This textbook provides a tutorial introduction to behavioral applications of control theory. Control theory describes the information one should be sensitive to and the pattern of influence that one should exert on a dynamic system in order to achieve a goal. As such, it is applicable to various forms of dynamic behavior. The book primarily deals with manual control (e.g., moving the cursor on a computer screen, lifting an object, hitting a ball, driving a car), both as a substantive area of study and as a useful perspective for approaching control theory. It is the experience of the authors that by imagining themselves as part of a manual control system, students are better able to learn numerous concepts in this field.

Topics include varieties of control theory, such as classical, optimal, fuzzy, adaptive, and learning control, as well as perception and decision making in dynamic contexts. The authors also discuss implications of control theory for how experiments can be conducted in the behavioral sciences. In each of these areas they have provided brief essays intended to convey key concepts that enable the reader to more easily pursue additional readings. Behavioral scientists teaching control courses will be very interested in this book.

chapter 1|7 pages

Perception/Action: A Systems Approach

chapter 2|9 pages

Closing the Loop

chapter 3|10 pages

Information Theory and Fitts’ Law

chapter 4|6 pages

The Step Response: First-Order Lag

chapter 6|12 pages

The Step Response: Second-Order System

chapter 7|16 pages

Nonproportional Control

chapter 9|17 pages

Order of Control

chapter 10|8 pages


chapter 11|8 pages

There Must Be 50 Ways to See a Sine Wave

chapter 12|17 pages

A Qualitative Look at Fourier Analysis

chapter 13|21 pages

The Frequency Domain: Bode Analysis

chapter 16|11 pages

Driving Around in Circles

chapter 17|17 pages

Continuous Tracking: Optimal Control

chapter 19|17 pages

Varieties of Variability

chapter 20|13 pages

Lifting a Glass of Juice

chapter 21|17 pages

Sine Wave Tracking Is Predictably Attractive

chapter 23|12 pages

Fuzzy Approaches to Vehicular Control

chapter 27|18 pages

Adaptation and Design