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Control Theory

  • By: Sandi W. Smith & Jessica Russell
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Control theory, derived from Norbert Wiener's cybernetic theory tradition, is an approach to understand self-regulating systems. Control theory provides a model of human functioning that explains the way people behave and how they assess their own behaviors. The foundation of control theory is the negative feedback loop (Figure 1), which is based on the discrepancy between the perception of a present and a desired ideal state. It is through this negative feedback loop that perceptions of present situations are compared with reference values that form ideal situations. The loop is termed negative because it functions to reduce deviations from desired states. The negative feedback loop contains four closed system factors (input function, comparator, output function, and impact on environment), as well as two influencing factors ...

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