Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Negative Feedback in Family Systems Theory

  • Stephen T. FifeEmail author
  • Carissa D’Aniello
  • Derek Holyoak
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_292

Name of Concept

Negative Feedback in Family Systems Theory.


Becvar and Becvar (1998, 2012) defined feedback as a central component and important criterion of cybernetic systems. It is classified as communication, or information flow, and is the energy input and output of systems. All behavior in family systems is considered communication and as such, acts as feedback to either maintain or alter the projected course of that system (Becvar and Becvar 1998). Feedback is categorized into two groups, positive and negative. Due to the common social definition often assigned to the words positive and negative, it is important to note that the words, in reference to systemic feedback, do not connote good or bad. Instead, the terms signify the contextual response of the system to the various inputs and outputs of that particular system (Becvar and Becvar 1998). Both positive and negative feedback are typically applied at the level of first-order cybernetics. However, second-order...

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  1. Bateson, G. (1967). Cybernetic explanation. The American Behavioral Scientist, 10(8), 29–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Becvar, D., & Becvar, R. (1998). Systems theory and family therapy: A primer (2nd ed.). Lanham: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  3. Becvar, D., & Becvar, R. (2012). Family therapy: A systemic integration (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen T. Fife
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carissa D’Aniello
    • 3
  • Derek Holyoak
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA
  2. 2.Texas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  3. 3.University of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Eli Karam
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA