"Your Behavior" Book by Richard Pfau


[Richard Pfau (2017.05.15 9:35 EDT)]
I am pleased to share the following review of Your Behavior just published by the US Review of Books. In addition to the reviews by Fred Good and Lloyd Klinedinst on Fred Nickols’ website (www.nickols.us/bookreviews.html), it may convince you to have a look at the book, if you haven’t already, and consider sharing it with your clients and students as a tool for helping to change behavior and as an introductory psychology book. Available at https://amazon.com/dp/1557789274

Your Behavior: Understanding and Changing the Things You Do
by Richard H. Pfau
Paragon House

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

“Knowing that what you perceive is a construct of your brain may help you realize that different people often perceive reality differently. As a result of their differing perceptions, they may act differently. Furthermore, you can change how you view the world, to some extent at least – a realization that if acted upon, can change your life for the better.”

There are many self-help books out there, and many focus on only one aspect of your behavior: Become a more motivated person, find true love, stop overeating, etc. Few books examine the human being as a complex mechanism, and fewer still take the time to understand the underlying causes for our behavior. Your Behavior spends only one chapter on explaining how to change your behavior, with a majority of the book focused on explaining why you act the way you do. The result is a brilliantly organized trove of knowledge that will leave readers with a better understanding of what makes us tick.

Many psychological and behavioral theories have a narrow view of people, focusing on only part of the bigger picture. Instead of decrying these theories, author Richard H. Pfau attempts to unite them into one working model of behavior. The way we act, this book explains, is a product of your body’s functions, environment, culture, personal history, and many other factors. All these influences are covered in the book in a clear-headed manner than never lets the sheer number of factors become overwhelming. Instead, the book manages to unite all these causes into one coherent theory, which hinges on two key tenets: We are survivors, and behavior is driven by perception. We may not live purely by instinct anymore, but humans are still driven by the desire to stay alive. To do so, we perceive the world in a certain way, and attempt to alter it in our favor. This can mean anything from taking a drink when you’re thirsty, to going on a diet when you’re overweight. The importance of perception and survival is stressed throughout the book, which builds up from theory to actionable information. In other words, by reading this book you will understand your behavior and be able to use this knowledge to change said behavior.

It’s a pretty lofty goal, but Your Behavior achieves it brilliantly. Although the actual “change your behavior” section is a mere chapter long, by the time you reach it you are well-versed in the nuances of your actions and motivations. In this book, learning is key. Pfau’s education background—a Ph.D. in science educatiion—is clear in the organization of this book, which uses the scaffoolding method of learning. Each chapter builds on the previous, adding information that is used to build up to a higher understanding of the central lesson. The book begins with the body, extends into the mind, then reaches outward into the environment. It then pulls all three together into the idea that we are survival- and perception-driven beings. Throughout the book, Pfau invites readers to take their learning further, providing numerous endnotes and footnotes with recommended readings, as well as highlights which add important facts, share noteworthy information or quotes, or illustrate a point through a chart. A pre- and post- chapter summary add to the well-organized layout, guiding readers along.

The chapter on changing your behavior feels like a postscript; the real apex of Your Behavior is the penultimate chapter, which explains in detail how to use everything you’ve learned to analyze your behavior (and the behavior of others). Three diagrams illustrate how to view your behavior in an all-encompassing manner. These are followed by a list of questions for understanding what you do and why. These are supplemented by several worksheets at the end of the book. Together, these questions can help you understand how many different factors culminate in a certain action. This book does not simplify the reasons behind our actions. It builds layers upon layers of complexity in a methodical and clearly organized manner. Other books claim they’ll change your life; Your Behavior gives you the tools to change it yourself.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review


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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: richardpfau4153@aol.com
Date: Mon, May 15, 2017 at 9:36 AM
Subject: “Your Behavior” Book by Richard Pfau
To: csgnet@listserv.illinois.edu