Invariants of Human Behavior

Invariants of Human Behavior and qualitative level can one find many general strict invariants in biology. Moreover, some of the most important invariants in science are not quan­ titative at all, but are what Allen Newell and I (1976) have called "laws of qualitative structure. " For example, the germ theory of disease, surely one of Pasteur's major contributions to biology, says only something like: "If you observe pathology, look for a microorganism-it might be causing the symp­ toms. " Similarly, modem molecular genetics stems from the approximately correct generalization that inheritance of traits is governed by the arrangement of long helical sequences of the four DNA nucleotides. Finally, in biological (induding human) realms, systems change adaptively over time. Simple change is not the problem, for Newton showed how we can write invariant laws as differential equations that describe the eternal move­ ments of the heavens. But with adaptative change, which is as much governed by a system's environment as by its internal constitution, it becomes more difficult to identify true invariants. As a result, evolutionary biology has a rather different flavor from physics, chemistry, or even molecular biology. In establishing aspirations for psychology it is useful to keep all of these http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annual Review of Psychology Annual Reviews

Invariants of Human Behavior

Annual Review of Psychology, Volume 41 (1) – Feb 1, 1990

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Publisher
Annual Reviews
Copyright
Copyright 1990 Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
Subject
Review Articles
ISSN
0066-4308
eISSN
1545-2085
DOI
10.1146/annurev.ps.41.020190.000245
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

and qualitative level can one find many general strict invariants in biology. Moreover, some of the most important invariants in science are not quan­ titative at all, but are what Allen Newell and I (1976) have called "laws of qualitative structure. " For example, the germ theory of disease, surely one of Pasteur's major contributions to biology, says only something like: "If you observe pathology, look for a microorganism-it might be causing the symp­ toms. " Similarly, modem molecular genetics stems from the approximately correct generalization that inheritance of traits is governed by the arrangement of long helical sequences of the four DNA nucleotides. Finally, in biological (induding human) realms, systems change adaptively over time. Simple change is not the problem, for Newton showed how we can write invariant laws as differential equations that describe the eternal move­ ments of the heavens. But with adaptative change, which is as much governed by a system's environment as by its internal constitution, it becomes more difficult to identify true invariants. As a result, evolutionary biology has a rather different flavor from physics, chemistry, or even molecular biology. In establishing aspirations for psychology it is useful to keep all of these

Journal

Annual Review of PsychologyAnnual Reviews

Published: Feb 1, 1990

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