Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 9, Iss. 4, October, 2005, pp. 463-478
@2005 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Statistical Distributions and Self-organizing Phenomena: What Conclusions Should be Drawn?

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University

Abstract: Some salient properties of the inverse power law distribution, the exponential distribution, catastrophe distributions, and the relationships among them were explored and compared. Self-organizing events may display any of these distributions. Catastrophe functions and their distributions do not display fractional (fractal) dimensions. Thus it is possible to have self-organization without the fractal. An empirical example from leadership emergence research illustrated a situation where a power law distribution provided a poor characterization of the data, but a swallowtail catastrophe model did so quite well. The results call into question some simplistic assumptions about the relationships among fractals, inverse power laws, self-organization and so-called pink noise.

Keywords: inverse power law, exponential distribution, leadership emergence, self-organization