Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Cybernetics and Feedback

Cybernetics is the study of communications of subsystems within a larger system and how the communication is used to maintain a balanced or steady state. One of the primary topics in cybernetics is feedback. There are two types of feedback, positive and negative. Positive feedback reinforces certain behaviors in the system. If the system selects a specific output state based on some input and then receives positive feedback, the system believes it has performed the correct action and will continue to do so in future events. On the other hand, negative feedback signals that the system has performed an incorrect action and must alter its choice in the future. When the system is in a steady state, it used positive and negative feedback to ensure that it is making the correct choices and performing as expected. Another possible state is a growth state. In this case, incorrect feedback is received and an incorrect behavior is reinforced so the system begins to develop flawed logic until it receives proper feedback to correct the error. A third state that can occur is change. In this state the system uses both positive and negative feedback to create a new state or behavior if the current set of states is not sufficient.