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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Cybernetics is the study of principles governing goal-directed, self-regulating, information-processing systems (artificial and living). Originating in the 1940s, it helped shape the cognitive revolution in psychology and has provided insight into cognition and the control of behavior. This chapter elucidates cybernetic concepts and discusses their application to understanding personality and social behavior. Cybernetic approaches are promising for developing solutions to two major problems at the intersection of personality and social psychology: first, describing stable individual differences in terms of psychological processes that change from moment to moment in response to situational factors; second, developing explanatory, process-based theories to accompany the descriptive models of personality, like the Big Five, that constitute the largest accomplishment of personality psychology in the last half century. Following discussion of the basic principles of cybernetics, a cybernetic theory of the Big Five is discussed, followed by applications to social behavior, including self-monitoring and interpersonal theory.

Keywords: cybernetics, personality, Cybernetic Big Five Theory, interpersonal theory, self-monitoring

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