B2 Book section
Systems thinking and adult cognitive development (2020)

Ståhle, P., Mononen, L., Tynjälä, P., & Kallio, E. K. (2020). Systems thinking and adult cognitive development. In E. Kallio (Ed.), Development of adult thinking : Interdisciplinary perspectives on cognitive development and adult learning (pp. 191-207). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315187464-12

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ståhle, Pirjo; Mononen, Laura; Tynjälä, Päivi; Kallio, Eeva K.

Parent publication: Development of adult thinking : Interdisciplinary perspectives on cognitive development and adult learning

Parent publication editors: Kallio, Eeva

ISBN: 978-1-138-73350-3

eISBN: 978-1-315-18746-4

Publication year: 2020

Pages range: 191-207

Number of pages in the book: 245

Publisher: Routledge

Place of Publication: Abingdon, Oxon

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315187464-12

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/68848


This chapter explores the links between scientific systems approaches and adult cognitive development. First, it describes the premises and basic concepts of systems thinking. It then continues to give an overview of the history of systems approach and the development of the main models and theories from its roots, which lie in the natural sciences. This is followed by an examination of the three systems paradigms, namely, Closed Systems, Open Systems, and Dynamic Systems and their implications to research and operational interests, in addition to their explanatory power in today’s world. Second part of the chapter focuses on describing the intersections between the Dynamic Systems paradigm theories and Jan Sinnott’s theory of postformal thought. This is carried out by describing the key theories behind the paradigm, that is, self-organizing and self-referential systems and their applications to social systems. Furthermore, it examines Sinnott’s theory’s overlap with the third paradigm approach. The chapter concludes that there are some linkages between the fields. It suggests that both research fields could benefit from each other by gaining new understanding and insight, and a genuine merger could lead to new discoveries. The chapter is providing inspiration for future research by raising new questions, settings, and methodologies.

Keywords: adults; thinking; cognition; cognitive development; learning; adult pedagogy; developmental psychology

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:57