Know thyself.


Why did you pick up this book or even decide you wanted to read something? Why did you choose your career, your employees, your belief systems, your partner? Seriously, what were you thinking, given most of the people you dated over the years? If ever you needed proof that we don’t truly understand what drives us or the people around us, you need only reach for the nearest photo album or trawl through a Facebook archive for a montage of poorly thought-through relationship decisions, ridiculous fashion choices and some cringe-worthy opinions: ‘unlike’!

Given all of us are merely the sum total of our decisions, perhaps a better understanding of what drives these decisions, what makes us buy and buy in, is called for. This is particularly pertinent as many of the theories about human behaviour that are doing the rounds are rather flawed and tend to be based more on wishful thinking than experience.

If we’re completely honest, for the past 100 years — perhaps throughout most of our history — the focus of understanding what drives human behaviour (or behavioural research, as it is currently known) has been searching for levers, both psychological and physical, with which to influence, change and attempt to control people’s behaviour. The aim is to make us more obedient followers, better behaved children, and more productive workers and members of society; and, as our society has industrialised and advanced, more willing consumers and more highly ...

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