The Psychologist as Social Systems Consultant

  • Rebecca M. Warner


In the discussion that follows, social system refers to a set of two or more people who are linked by social relationships or who are engaged in social interaction with each other. This definition is a special case of a more general definition of a system. Miller (1978) defined a system as “a set of interacting units with relationships among them.” Thus defined, the idea of a system is sufficiently general that it encompasses such diverse entities as a cell, an organ, an organism, or a social group. A basic premise of general systems theory is that there are essential similarities among all systems. (For instance, all systems engage in boundary maintenance and exchange information with their environments.) Another fundamental idea is that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Systems theory, like Gestalt psychological theories, emphasizes the importance of studying relationships among parts. Since each entity is involved in relationships with its environment, no entity (whether it is a cell or a person) can be adequately understood without taking its environment into account.


Social System Health Belief Model General System Theory Social System Consultant Sick Role 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca M. Warner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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