Notations for dynamics diagrams
The dynamics diagrams are drawn in the style of the System Dynamics causal
loops diagram. Causal loops diagrams emphasize the causal relationships
among things. By better understanding these relationships, we can gain
insights to the dynamics involved. It also allow us to develop possible
policy or remedies.
The sample diagram below illustrates the notations of causal loops
- Words denote variables, values that can go up or down.
- For example "seek truth" is a variable.
- Arrows denote causal relationships between variables.
- I.e. change in one variable causes change in another variable.
- Arrows with "+" sign indicate positive correlation.
- For example, "seek truth" drives "do the right thing".
This means that the more one seeks truth, the more one will do the
right thing. Similarly, the less one seeks truth, the less one will
do the right thing.
- Arrows with "-" sign indicate negative correlation.
- For example, "do the right thing" controls "need to be right".
This means means that doing the right thing decreases the needs to be
right. Similarly, not doing the right thing increases the need to be
- A closed loop of arrows form one causal loop.
- A causal loop is thus a feedback loop of variables. The sign
for the loop is the product of all the signs of the arrows.
- A loop with "-" sign indicates a balancing loop which stabilizes.
- For example, the green loop consisting of "need to be right",
"seek truth", and "do the right thing" form a balancing loop.
So the more one needs to be right, the more one seek truth,
which drives one to do the right thing, which decreases the need to
be right. So the values stabilizes.
- A loop with "+" sign indicates a reinforcing loop which magnifies the values.
- For example, the purple loop consisting of
"do the right thing", "fear of being condemned", and "correct others"
form a reinforcing loop.
So the less one does the right thing, the more one fear being condemned,
the more one starts to condemn and correct others, which further
causes one to not do the right thing. A snow-balling effect occurs.
How to use these diagrams?
Studying the diagrams will help us understand the dynamics involved.
For example, the purple loop above clearly illustrates a malicious
cycle that can occur in an unhealthy state, when one's not doing the
right thing. But when one's in a healthy state and doing the
right thing, the purple loop can also explain why one's basic fear
can be conquered.
Once we've gained the insight into the
problem, we can begin to solve it by strengthening and weakening
the effect of certain links. This can help us break through the
unhealthy cycles and strengthen the healthy ones.
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