International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.


BEHAVIOR ( Operative) 1)4)

The behavior of a decision maker or operator when trying to manage a system or correct some disturbance in a function of the same.

The following types of operative behavior have been identified:

- skill-based behavior: it is similar to an automatic behavior, practically without mental activity. The operator only reproduces behavioral models acquired by intensive training. Any alarm functions as a trigger for a kind of conditioned reflex

- rule based behavior: this behavior supposes a conscious mental activity and is characterized by the sequential performance of coordinated tasks, according to learned or written well assimilated rules

- knowledge-based behavior: the operator, in a more complex and not very common situation, must understand the problem, plan adequate responses and execute the corresponding decisions. This behavior generally includes reasoned choices made in due time on the base of a proper understanding of systemic complexity. A high level of personal responsability can be achieved in this way.

A frequent and very dangerous error is to give responsabilities of this last level to people trained only for rule-or skill- based behavior.

Human behavior in operative situations and in relation to mental activity seems to respond to the three following basic types:

- Skill-based behavior: a practically automated behavior generally produced by a long training. Such behavior allows a very quick and efficient operative response, but then only in situations similar to those met during the training process. The skill acquired by a pianist for example is rigorously related to the universal standard board of pianos

- rule-based behavior: a less automated behavior, in which a measure of mental activity is needed in order to select the correct behavior in different specific cases. Such behavior is not over-complex when the number of possible different cases is limited and corresponds to more or less similar or well known situations

- Knowledge-based behavior: an intelligent mental behavior needed to tackle quite complex and/or unusual situations wherein automated skills or rule application are wanting. In such cases an operator must be able to discover adequate procedures in decision making or in design processes.

Christmas tree effect; Complexity; Decision tree


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

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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