Control theory, or cybernetic theory, examines self-regulating systems, both mechanistic and humanistic. The theory’s central ideas have been around for many decades (for example, Cannon, 1929), but Wiener (1948) is generally attributed with establishing control theory as a distinct body of thought. Control theory has had a major impact on a diverse number of fields, such as management, engineering, applied mathematics, economics, and health care.
According to control theory, the feedback loop is the basic unit of cybernetic control (Carver & Scheier, 1982). The feedback loop contains four elements: (1) a referent standard, (2) a sensor, (3) a comparator, and (4) an effector. Many people have used the example of a thermostat ...