Colin G. DeYoung & Yanna J. Weisberg (2016)
Cybernetics is the study of principles governing goal-directed, self-regulating, information processing systems, both artificial and living. Originating in the 1940s and 50s, it helped shape the cognitive revolution in psychology and has provided crucial insight into cognition and the control of behavior. This chapter elucidates its basic conceptual features and discusses its application to understanding personality and social behavior. The central premise is that cybernetic approaches are promising for the development of solutions to two major problems at the intersection of personality and social psychology. The first problem is how to describe stable individual differences in terms of psychological processes that change from moment to moment in response to situational factors. The second is how to develop explanatory, process-based theories to accompany the descriptive models of personality, like the Big Five, that have been the biggest accomplishment of personality psychology in the last half century. Following an explication of the basic principles of cybernetics, we describe a cybernetic theory of the Big Five and its applications to theories of social behavior including self-monitoring and interpersonal theory.