Self-cybernetics: Toward an integrated model of self-concept processes

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Abstract

An attempt is made in this paper to develop a self-cybernetic model of human behavior, explaining behavior in terms of self-concept and cybernetics. The integrated model is essentially a self-cybernetic system described as a cyclical process involving monitor, input, comparator, and output processes. The monitor component is described in terms of self-monitoring; input component is described in terms of self-perception; comparator component is described in terms of self-evaluation; and the output of the self-cybernetic system is described in terms of three psychological processes—behavior change, cognitive change, and information search. It is argued that a self-cybernetic system can be analyzed as a series of self-cybernetics cycles in time (t—1, t, t+1,…, t+n). Each self-cybernetic cycle starts out with a self-monitoring process that guides the person to monitor certain self-related information from the environment and/or activates certain self-expectancies from memory. The input serves to categorize the information as similar/dissimilar to self-expectancies evoked from memory. Information that is self-debasing attributed to the self and/or inconsistent with the evoked self-expectancy produces a stress signal forcing the individual to take corrective action through (1) cognitive change, (2) behavior change, (3) information search, or (4) a comparator operation. Cognitive change essentially involves employing one of the following three coping strategies: (1) self-concept differentiation, (2) self-concept compartmentalization, or (3) self-concept change. Behavior change involves decision making to engage in a course of action to reduce the stress. Information search involves entering into an information search cybernetic cycle having its own monitor, input, comparator, and output functions. A comparator operation involves a self-evaluation in which the self-perception (input) is evaluated in relation to a self-expectancy (referent). Unfavorable self-evaluations produce a stress signal which induces the person to engage in an output-related operation—cognitive change, behavior change, or information search.

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