Exploring the perceptual control hierarchy

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Perceptual control is achieved and maintained within a hierarchical network of interconnected control systems. In his work on Perceptual Control Theory (PCT), Powers described eleven levels of control: intensities, sensations, configurations, transitions, events, relationships, categories, sequences, programs, principles and system concepts. Despite Powers’ warning to not take these levels too seriously - they are hypotheses that need to be studied further - this chapter describes how our human perception is different at each level, and paints a picture of how PCT allows us to understand the complexity of our experience. This chapter explains the mechanism of hierarchical control, outlines the experience of control and loss of control at each level through the use of many examples, and explores its connection to the experience of self, emotions and time. The chapter concludes with ideas to test the presented hypotheses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Interdisciplinary Handbook of Perceptual Control Theory
Subtitle of host publicationLiving in the Loop
EditorsWaren Mansell, Eva de Hullu, Vyv Huddy, Tom Scholte
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780323998413
ISBN (Print)9780323911658
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2023


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