The validation of sociocybernetic models

Johannes van der Zouwen (Department of Social Research Methodology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 1 August 1997


In a computer simulation experiment, the sociocybernetic concepts of self‐referencing control, disturbances from the environment, goal‐oriented behaviour, and morphogenesis are subsequently included in a model. With this model, a large variety of trajectories with quite different behaviours can be generated by only minor changes of initials and coefficients, which leave the structure of the model fully intact. Shows that the same trajectory can be generated by models which have a completely different structure. Thus, the “fit” between observed and generated trajectories is an insufficient criterion to warrant decisions regarding acceptance or rejection of the model, and the theory behind it. Additional criteria have to be introduced in model‐testing methodology. The sociocybernetic concept of self‐referentiality even requires a radical change in this methodology.



van der Zouwen, J. (1997), "The validation of sociocybernetic models", Kybernetes, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 848-856.

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Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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