A synergetic perspective on urban scaling, urban regulatory focus and their interrelations

Hermann Haken, Juval Portugali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


By means of rich data, studies on urban scaling suggested that many urban properties scale with city size in universal ways. A recent study suggested an explanation why the behaviour of citizens in small and large cities differs qualitatively, by deriving the urban agents’ behaviour from an extended version of Higgins’ regulatory focus theory regarding humans’ motivational system. Based on several sets of laboratory experiments, this study demonstrated that urban context of large, fast-paced cities and that of small slow-paced cities encourage two distinctively different motivations and behaviours on the part of their inhabitants. What remains an open question following the above study, however, is the way these behavioural reactions are related to the dynamics of cities as complex, adaptive, self-organization systems. The aim of the present paper is to answer this open question. It does so from the theoretical perspective of Synergetics and its application to the domain of cities by means of synergetic inter-representation networks, information adaptation and their conjunction. From this conjunction, the paper suggests a theoretical interpretation associated with a mathematical model that links the theoretical framework to the empirical findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number191087
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Information adaptation
  • Regulatory focus theory
  • Synergetic inter-representation networks
  • Urban scaling


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