Systems Psychology


Systemic Psychology
Systems Behavior
Systems-Based Psychology


Human cognition as a complex system

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … doing/being/living
  • Learner is … a complex system
  • Learning is … adapting, evolving, maintaining viability
  • Teaching is … engaging




Inspired and informed by Complex Systems Research, Systems Psychology views human cognition as an emergent and nested complex system.


So far, the most frequent concerns expressed about Systems Psychology boil down to worries over the methodological difficulties associated with embracing the actual complexity of human cognition.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Gregory Bateson; Humberto Maturana; Francisco Varela

Status as a Theory of Learning

Systems Psychology is a theory of learning … knowing … living … being …

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Systems Psychology is not a theory of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Supported by extensive research across multiple domains in the physical and social sciences, Systems Psychology meets the criteria of a scientific theory.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2020). “Systems Psychology” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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