A comprehensive study of human behavior in an eminently readable format.
Psychology researcher and debut author Pfau presents a clear and highly detailed, if occasionally dry, discussion of behavior that delves into the complex science behind it. He also provides a defined process that one may use to change entrenched routines. He logically intertwines the four parts of his book, and each nicely builds upon the ones that preceded it. In textbook style, Pfau offers overviews of each part and chapter along with further reading and notes at the end. He also includes a master list of “Highlights”—more than 100 sidebars with diagrams or explanations that further illuminate the main text. Part I, the shortest section, introduces the concept of behavior and explores how the body’s self-preservation instincts affect it. Part II considers how one’s personal behavior is derived from internal processes of, for example, the nervous system and endocrine system. Part III discusses the effect of environment on one’s actions. This section includes a particularly engaging discussion of how different people’s perceptions of the same situations can vary. A key point in this section is highly relevant to today’s news- and information-rich environment: the reality that “what we know about the world…is largely shaped by the media to which we are exposed.” The book’s fourth and final part is the most intriguing because it focuses on behavioral theories and models, analysis, and methods of effecting change. In it, Pfau introduces and explains perceptual control theory, which, he writes, “focuses on our control of what we sense and perceive, rather than on our actions.” He then demonstrates how to use PCT concepts for analytical purposes. The last chapter succinctly summarizes all of the book’s lessons and sets forth a lucid, step-by-step process for asserting control and altering the ways that one behaves. Excellent appendices provide supplemental forms and checklists.
An elegantly constructed and organized scientific exploration and self-help work.