1. "The system of interconnected and expedient actions carried out by an organism" (UNESCO-UNEP, 1983, p.6)
2. A repetitive sequence or pattern of actions or operations, and resulting states, characteristic of a specific system.
The second definition is more general than the first, since it can apply to non-living systems, as well as to societies of organisms.
The concept of behavior, when referring to a complex system, may be associated with an interconnected network of actions.
G. PASK gives the following examples: "The behavior of a steam engine is a recurrent cycle of steam injection and piston mouvements that remains invariant. The behavior of a cat is made of performances like eating and sleeping and, once again it is an invariant form selected from the multitude of things a cat might possibly do" (1961, p.18).
Models of numerous different behaviors can be constructed, but one model may be used to modelize analogous behavior of different systems, as for example cyclical oscillations in homeostatic systems, or dissipative structuration in systems far from equilibrium.
Behavior is thus a systemic-cybernetic concept of very ample significance and does not exclusively and necessarily have psychological overtones.
However, as stated by R. ESPEJO: "The greater the number of distinct behaviors that are recognized in a situation, the more complex it appears to be" (1988, p.140)
From a somewhat different viewpoint G. KLIR defines behavior as: "A particular set of time-invariant relations between certain quantities". He then proceeds to define three basic kinds of behavior:
"1. Permanent (real) behavior - the set of all absolute relations;
"2. Relatively permanent (known) behavior - the set of all relative relations of a particular activity;
"3. Temporary behavior - the set of local relations within a distinct section of a particular activity".(1965, p.30)
He adds: "It should be remembered that permanent behavior is known only in some cases, e.g., when it is directly given in some engineering system" (Ibid)
Still from another perspective, A. ROSENBLUETH, N WIENER and J. BIGELOW (1943, p.22) proposed a classification of orders of behavior.
In turn, R.L. ACKOFF establishes the following behavioral classification of systems (1971):
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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