making-sense-of-behavior

Making Sense of Behavior by William T Powers and My Thoughts

[amazon_enhanced asin=”0964712156″ /] This is the eighth book in the series Learning Together and Leading Together where we are going through the Personal MBA plan curated by Josh Kaufman. Our goal is to get through 99 books this year. Do we read the whole book? Nope. We digest the summary of the book and I give my thoughts and you give your thoughts. Feel free to follow along and comment if you would like. Josh has been kind enough to write a summary of this book and breaks down the book into 10 points. I encourage you to read the full summary. Here are the 10 points from that summary:

  1. Perception is how our minds experience the outside world.
  2. Our brains compare what we perceive vs. internal preferred or desired “reference levels”.
  3. Behavior is the control of perception.
  4. When a perception is “under control,” we do nothing.
  5. When a perception is “out of control,” we act in ways to bring it back under control as quickly as possible.
  6. Our actions to bring a perception under control depend on the environment in which they’re taking place.
  7. There are control systems at every level of human action, from our cells all the way up to our highest values and ideals.
  8. Higher-level control systems average perceptions over time.
  9. It’s possible for control systems to conflict with each other by trying to control the same perception with mutually exclusive reference levels.
  10. You can never control another person in a “control systems” sense – you can only act on their perceptions or negotiate a change in their reference levels.

Main idea of the book: People aren’t behavioristic stimulus-response machines. People’s behavior is far more complex because we want things and prioritize things, and those desires and perceptions constantly shape our behavior. These ideas stretched me: 1.Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) is a non-behavioristic way to explain human behavior. Instead of blindly and automatically responding to stimuli, PCT explains behavior through the control of perception. Every action humans take is intended to change a perception the actor is currently experiencing to more closely fit the preferred reference level. 2. We only act when a change in our Environment knocks a perception out of control. That’s where the stimulus-reponse model fails – it assumes that the same stimulus will produce predictable responses every time, which is not true. My Thoughts: This book was not in my wheel house. I find the kind of information in this book fascinating but it is not normally on my short list of things that I prefer to read. In fact my wife and I had a conversation recently that said if we could only figure out how to motivate our kids better then we would be much better off. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the principle that you can not manage different people the same way. I also understand that I will react to a situation much differently than my wife, my brother, and even many of team. The big take aways for me were the idea of perception and how that perception is regulated by our senses which is an extension of our brains. To think that someone would behave differently because they don’t have a sense of smell never hit me before. I could understand that for someone who can’t see or can’t hear but we rely on all of our senses. We also rely on our sense of belonging and our perception of our emotions. In reality, this book was much deeper for me than Brain Rules for some reason. That said I enjoyed Brain Rules more. How about you? What did you think of this book?

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