Abstract for: Does system dynamics or control theory help you to strike a balance?
The performance of laymen on tasks testing for knowledge of basic dynamics, such as the bathtub tasks, is consistently weak. There are some reports of beneficial effects of introductory courses in system dynamics or a strong mathematical background. This study investigates the effects of a system dynamics background beyond the introductory level, and strong mathematical background including courses in differential equations and control theory, on the strategies applied to, as well as performance in, the rabbits-and-foxes task. The task objective is to establish equilibrium in a predator-and-prey system. These well-educated participants performed no better than social science students. The strategies applied differed however, and the dynamic systems educated participants did not demonstrate as much misconceptions about the system as social science students have been found to do. The weak performance raises the question if there are better ways to develop a mature concept of equilibrium.