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System Dynamics Glossary

What is the meaning of Single loop learning?

Single loop learning is a term borrowed from electrical engineering or cybernetics where, for example, a thermostat is defined as a single-loop learner. The thermostat is programmed to detect states of ‘too cold’ or ‘too hot’ and correct the situation by turning the heat on or off. Whenever an error [difference, d, between actual and desired states] is detected and corrected without questioning or altering the underlying values of the system (be it individual, group, inter-group, organisational or inter-organisational), the learning is single-loop (Argyris, 1992: 8).

Other topics in our resources on System Dynamics related to Single loop learning include: 
  • double loop learning

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