Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why do we behave the way we do?


Human behaviour is largely constrained by the rules that govern particular situations and environments. We are constantly obliged to behave in a particular way, or to avoid certain behaviours. These rules may be formal regulations such as laws, or they may be informal rules of ‘social etiquette’, which are not written down but are implicit within the situation itself.

‘Moral’ rules exist to safeguard our own welfare, and the welfare and the rights of other people around us, whereas others, ‘social-conventional’ rules, merely exist in order that our system can continue to operate with as little conflict as possible. This fundamental distinction concerns the perceived consequences of rule violations for other people; why does a particular rule exist? We must differentiate here between moral rules and social-conventional rules (eg: Smetana, 1981). Transgressions of moral rules result in direct infringements of people’s rights and welfare. For example, we have formal laws forbidding assault and theft, and informal rules about not cheating on one’s partner or shouting unwarranted verbal insults. Social-conventional transgressions are considered to be less serious. They violate the arbitrary and agreed-upon conventions that co-ordinate the behaviour of individuals within social systems; for example, failing to make a tax return, TV licence evasion or talking to yourself in public places. There is strong evidence (eg: Smetana, 1985) that children are able to distinguish between these types of transgression from an early age and throughout early adulthood, and that moral transgressions are considered far more serious than infringements of social-conventional rules.

In general, moral transgressions trigger one of the ‘moral emotions’; guilt, shame, remorse or empathy (eg: Blair, 1995). These emotions act as internal ‘cues’ to prevent future transgressions. Social-conventional transgressions do not directly initiate these internal emotional cues, but depend on the threat of legal punishment or social disapproval to maintain appropriate behaviour.

In general, if people adhere to the rules, then any system will work smoothly, every individual will co-operate with one another, and everyone’s welfare will be ensured. After all, this is why the rules exist. However, people don’t always keep to the rules. ‘Accidents’ happen, generally because a rule has been broken somewhere along the line. Breaking a rule reduces the safety margins that rules inherently provide, and increases the likelihood of an ‘accident’. Frequently this rule-breaking behaviour is not the result of a deliberate act, but is committed without conscious intent. What causes this behaviour, and how can it be prevented?

Attitudes vs behaviour

Attitudes have generally been considered as ‘steering’ behaviour in some fairly concrete way. Traditionally, it is thought that if you change someone’s attitudes, then their behaviour will also change to fall in line with those changes. However, although there is evidence showing that this approach can work (eg: Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), it has been suggested that it is not often the case, and even when it is, those changes in behaviour are not as great as one would expect (Howarth, 1988). In addition, there is a problem in measuring attitudes – the attitudes that an individual claims to support are only true at the moment that they are requested. A large number of factors will affect those stated attitudes. Consider a Fire Officer asking a youth about their attitude towards smoking in bed, after they have just attended a talk on the dangers of domestic fires. Can we assume that this measure is accurate and likely to predict behaviour? It is unlikely, and although this is an extreme example, the same effects can be seen whenever a measure of attitude is taken.


An attitude is essentially a ‘behavioural intention’; how we would like to behave at the time that we are asked. The trouble is that there are a huge variety of things that stop us from behaving in the way we say we would like to behave. One of the strongest influences is habit (Ronis, Yates & Kirscht, 1989; Ouellette & Woods, 1998); how we have always behaved in the past when a particular set of circumstances has arisen. We may think that smoking in bed after a few beers is potentially dangerous, but if that is what we have always done when we get home from a night out, then we will continue to do so regardless. Throughout our lives, habits form the strongest basis for predicting behaviour (see Verplanken & Aarts, in press).

Why do habits form?

Humans have only a limited cognitive capacity (Miller, 1956); we can only think about a certain number of things at a time. The less thought that goes into our day-to-day lives, the better. As a result of this, we have adapted the way in which we use this finite capacity. Habits enable us to deal with situations that we have encountered before (and possibly had to think about quite carefully), without expending too much of that precious cognitive capacity. We don’t have to think particularly hard about what we are doing; we don’t have to pay too much attention to our environment or to our actions. We can think about other, more important things, while still being able to live our day-to-day lives.

How do habits form?

Over a period of time, we learn to behave in a particular way when we encounter a set of circumstances that we recognise. There is evidence that suggests that habits start off as ‘implementation intentions‘ (Gollwitzer, 1993), or decisions that state, “when X happens, I will do Y”. For example, “When I have got home from a night out, got undressed and into bed, and before I turn the light out, I will smoke a cigarette”, or “When I get home from work, I will slump in front of the TV all evening or go to the gym or take my wife and kids to the cinema”. These implementation intentions are likely to be strongly influenced by our personality, as it is our personality traits that dictate how we perceive the world around us and how we react to the things that we experience. This is particularly true of habits that involve rule-breaking behaviour.

The effects of personality

To the majority of the population, the transgression of a rule generally has an implicit aversiveness that prohibits acts of rule violation (Lykken, 1995). We don’t break rules because it ‘doesn’t feel right’ to do so. Some elements of personality can determine whether we will break rules or not, particularly when the moral/social-conventional distinction is taken into consideration (Burgess, 1996).

We all have urges to do certain things, to behave in a particular way that might involve breaking rules. The personality characteristics that determine these urges would predict behaviour very well if no rules existed to constrain our behaviour – the situation involves no rules, there is nobody to get hurt and no price to pay for rule transgressions. If we are certain that there will be none of these negative consequences, we might engage in the kind of behaviour modern society considers to be antisocial and illegal.

Assuming that an individual has the urge to behave in such a way, this is where a second set of personality characteristics becomes important. These traits will determine how likely an individual is to consider themselves bound by the rules. Some people will follow the rules to the letter, some will follow only those rules that they consider legitimate and justified, and a very small proportion will not abide by any rule that prevents them from achieving their goals. Using pen-and-paper personality scales it is possible to predict, with a fair degree of accuracy, how an individual will perceive the rules and how likely they will be to abide by them.

However, all this assumes that we are conscious of the rule-breaking behaviours that we are engaging in, and are able to think logically and rationally about it. The trouble is that the existence of a habit will prevent this logical, rational process from taking place. Simply recognising certain elements of our environment will trigger our habitual response and we won’t think about our subsequent behaviour any further.

Habits can become established quite early in life and, as described earlier, personality characteristics may have a large part to play in determining the nature of these habits. However, certain elements of personality change as we get older, especially those elements that determine our drives and urges. Once a habit is established it will determine our behaviour, even though the initial motivations for that behaviour may no longer exist. The fact that the behaviour is ‘automatic’ means that even if we are breaking rules, we can largely ignore those transgressions because we are no longer ‘in control’ of those behaviours.

What effects do habits have?

One of the fundamental reasons that we develop these habits is to reduce the amount of information in our environment that we need to attend to in order to decide how to behave. As a result, we are able to do more things, or more complex things, and most of the time we can do them successfully. However, we tend to generalise the circumstances in which we engage in these habitual behaviours. In other words, we miss things in the environment,‘external cues’, that might tell us that the habitual behaviour is not appropriate in that specific set of circumstances. In addition, the behaviours we engage in become less complex and varied, as we ignore the ‘fine detail’ of situations and as a result end up with a limited number of rigid patterns of behaviour that are resistant to change. This increases the likelihood that the behaviour we choose will be inappropriate, simply because we are not taking all of the environmental and situational information into account before we act.


It is likely that we will establish a collection of habitual responses to a variety elements in the environment. We can describe this set of habits as a ‘mind-set’ (Gollwitzer, 1993, 1996). This mind-set will direct our conscious attention only towards particular types of relevant information in the environment. For example, when someone is considering a choice of goals, a ‘deliberative’ mind-set may be activated that comprises an open mind for new information and promotes relatively objective information processing – in other words, we are thinking; “How do I sort this one out then?”. However, an ‘implemental’ mind-set will focus attention on particular information regarding where, when and how to act, and is characterised by closed-mindedness, or; “I know what to do – let’s get on with it”. Once a behavioural act is initiated, an ‘actional’ mind-set will focus the individual’s attention exclusively on aspects of the self and environment that sustain that behaviour; in other words, they will be thinking something like, “This bit goes there, and then I do that”. Recent research (Verplanken, Aarts, van Knippenberg, & Moonen, A.; 1998) has suggested that a habitual mind-set may enhance the perceptual readiness for habit-related cues, and prevent the individual from being distracted and adopting other, less efficient courses of action. This mind-set acts as a kind of enduring ‘default’ cognitive orientation that is inherently associated with the habitual behaviour, although it may be present all the time, and not only during the time that a habitual action is actually executed.

The upshot of all this is that when we find ourselves in a familiar environment, it is very likely that we will think and behave in a habitual, preordained way, without looking around us for unexpected elements of the environment. This will obviously leave us open to making errors of judgement in our behaviour, which may have serious consequences for our safety, and that of those around us.

How do we stop inappropriate habits from forming?

There is very little that can be done to persuade the small percentage of the population that will not abide by the rules regardless of the consequences. However, some rules are broken by a large proportion of the population, due to the way in which those rules are commonly perceived. The rules’ legitimacy and the justification for abiding by those rules should be emphasised in the strongest possible way. Highlighting the negative consequences for other people (‘moral’ basis for the rules) will reinforce this justification, and make compliance more likely. It is important to emphasise other people’s rights and welfare, because otherwise it is only the individual’s personal safety that is at risk. Personal safety is inherently nobody else’s business but our own, and therefore if someone imposes rules on us ‘for our own safety’, we are likely to feel patronised and ignore them. If someone wants to risk their own safety, then why shouldn’t they? However, in threatening the welfare of other people, the rule transgression emerges from the ‘personal’ sphere into the ‘public’ sphere, thus becoming subject to the legitimate concerns of others (see Verkuyten, 1992; Verkuyten, Roodpijpers, Elffers & Hessing, 1994). Emphasising the effects of particular rule transgressions on others makes those transgressions more aversive, and therefore less likely.

Because habits are formed fairly quickly as a result of experience of a particular environment or set of circumstances, it is important to introduce the moral justification for the relevant rules from the moment the individual enters the new environment or experiences the new set of circumstances for the first time. In the majority of cases, this means as early as possible in the life of the individual.

How can we change existing habits?

Again, by emphasising the moral justification of particular rules we can make compliance more likely. Furthermore, we can counteract the effects of the mind-set by deliberately drawing attention towards elements of the environment that might otherwise have been considered irrelevant and ignored. Drawing attention to specific safety-related elements can counteract the deficiencies in our cognitive capacity by providing the basis for new, safer habits. After a time, these habits will require no more conscious attention than the inappropriate ones, but will reduce the likelihood that rules will be broken and consequently reduce the risk to the individual.

Obviously the specifics of each rule and situation will dictate exactly how this is achieved, but the theme is consistent. People ignore vital information in the environment which, if taken into consideration, could cause them to question their habitual responses. Given a strong enough argument in favour of change, reminders in the environment and perhaps some form of additional incentive, people’s inappropriate habits can be changed, and more appropriate behaviours take their place.”

This article has a great insight to human behaviour and how one can change ones inset by using the rules of common behaviour. By manipulating moral rules which are not as set in stone such as law and etiquette behaviour making people del the way they are acting is appropriate to the environment they are in.

Why am i always late?

I found this article it is very interesting and opens up some home truths.. why are you late? i know why i am what do you think?

“Are you ever late? Does lateness feed you? Do you constantly have people waiting on you? Do you know people who drive you crazy because they are always late? Have you ever admonished someone for always being late? Has someone called you on it?  Here are other ways that lateness communicates. Look at the list for the likely match or combination of matches to your issue.

1. THE RUSH .  Lateness feeds the adrenaline junkie. If you love thrills and excitement, and there are not enough in your life, you may use running late as a way getting your excitement fix. Instead of speeding like a maniac to be on time, give yourself other opportunities to feed your fire. Perhaps tango lessons, skydiving, hockey  tickets or take up boxing.

2. THE TIME-CHALLENGED .  Face it, some people are clueless about time. They just don’t understand that an hour has sixty minutes. They say they will be there in 15 minutes and they arrive 45 minutes later, truly unaware that they are late. This personality might be called the absent-minded professor. They also can’t seem to understand how long an activity truly takes . For example, they think they can wait to leave the office for a meeting 10 miles across town 5 minutes before the meeting. They don’t factor in how long it will take them to get their meeting materials packed up, how long it will take them to get to the car, the traffic on the way and how long it may take to find a place to park. They also don’t allow for the unexpected delays such as an accident on the road. Because they have an unrealistic sense of time, they tend to fall privy to the “one more thing” phenomenon. That is they try to do one more thing before they leave. They check their e-mail one more time before they go down the hall for the meeting. They make one more phone call before they leave the house for the appointment. Because their sense of time is unrealistic, they think they can stretch it and bend it like silly putty. 

I have a friend with a master’s degree in statistics. He calculates statistical formulas for credit ratings. He is a very bright man. He is always late. Talking to him about it didn’t change his behavior. Because he is almost always exactly an hour late, when I need to meet with him at 6:00 I tell him 5:00. He shows up at 6:00. We can still be friends.  The good news is that if these people are clued in about their issue and they want to change, they can. The time-challenged just need to realistically examine their schedule and ask themselves how long their activities truly take.

3. CONTROL .  Lateness is a form of control. If you are consistently late to dinner or appointments because you spent a few extra minutes getting ready or you didn’t give enough leeway for traffic, you may be saying to the person who is waiting: “I am more important than you. You must wait for me.” By making others wait you have power over them even if it’s only the power to make them tap their fingers on the desk, make them order another drink or hold up dinner till you get there. It is passive aggressiveness in its finest form, the invisible attack. People can get mad at you but it makes them look impatient or unreasonably demanding. After all, how are you supposed to control the external world. You can always have an excuse, the phone rang, someone came into my office with a problem, I couldn’t find my cell phone. You have power over everyone who waits for you. In fact, you may actually avoid being on time because it would communicate that you are kowtowing to others.

This form of time use is typically used by people who don’t have power. They are not the Big Boss. They would be uncomfortable doing anything directly to gain power, to ask for what they want., to demand attention. By using a silent command they get the rush of control without the risk of counterattack. Children are the true masters. They can’t find their homework or their right shoe, they need a drink of water, they have trouble with their buttons, anything to postpone bedtime or school.

4. LOW SELF ESTEEM .  When lateness doesn’t matter because you don’t matter then perhaps your lateness communicates your low self esteem or your lack of confidence. If you think, no one will notice anyway, you are discounting your value as a human being. And why would you worry about others if you don’t have any concern for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re rude or inconsiderate, if you just plain don’t matter. A lack of respect for yourself inhibits your ability to respect others.

My friend Ginger had a college chum who was always late. After Ginger sat alone in one too many restaurants, she shared with me that she was going to write this person a letter and tell her she didn’t want to be friends anymore.  I knew from Ginger’s conversations that Angie was very unhappy about her weight, discouraged that no one asked her out, and because she couldn’t find a job in her field, she was working for her dad. I  suspected she wasn’t’ feeling very good about herself. I suggested to Ginger she try to meet with her friend face to face to tell her how her lateness made her feel.

They arranged to meet at restaurant where there was entertainment. Ginger arrived at the bar to watch the band.  No friend. She got up to call her. Returned, still no friend, but a very cute blond guy was in her seat.. She struck up a conversation with the cute man.  Moved in with him three days later. A year passed and she married him. Angie missed the wedding. She walked into the church an hour late.

5. SOS! NOTICE ME.  Sometimes, something or many things in life are going wrong, and it is just too horrible to say out loud. So you communicate with your tardiness.  Your lateness says: Isn’t it horrible that I’m late?  Please ask me why, so I can tell you the horrible thing I am dealing with.

I knew someone who had been attacked in her home. She was living far away from her family for the first time and had no close friends.  There was no one to share her pain with. She told us with her time use. She became habitually late. She kept everyone in our office waiting wondering whether she was all right. It was a powerful SOS repeated over and over from a life that was sinking fast. It was only when the boss sat her down and reprimanded her that the story of her ordeal came tumbling out.  The boss listened to her and recommended among other things that she share her burden with a few of us. We supported her and soon she didn’t need her silent cry of lateness to communicate any more.

6. THE BIG EGO .  Related to the need for control is the BIG EGO. The difference is that silent controllers have no assigned power and big egos do.  They feel they have the right to be late-that it comes as part of their royalty package. The big ego says with his time use, I am so important that you the little peon who is waiting must sit patiently for me to arrive. As if they should be greeted with a standing ovation and Hail Caesars. You the know the type. The big boss who keeps everyone waiting for the meeting to start.. They come sauntering in smiling, not caring about their rudeness. In fact, they may revel in it. Or they come in ranting and complaining about the big problem they had to solve or the disaster they averted before they could honor you with their presence. Only the Pope and Superman have saving super powers worth waiting for.

I remember sitting at a conference table full of coworkers, waiting for the president of the company to arrive. This happened every meeting and ended with the same ritual. He would walk through the conference room door, go over and get his doughnuts asking the female nearest him to get him coffee all the while greeting a selective few  people at he table with the same greeting. “Hey, how are you feeling?” If he had asked me that question, I would have been tempted to reply. “Miffed and insulted by your lack of consideration.” He never asked me.

7. HIDDEN ANGER .  Sometimes we leave people waiting because we hate them. Okay, “hate” may be too strong a word. Let’s say, because we are secretly unhappy with them. We may be jealous, envious, resentful or just plain not like that person. When I say this is a secret I mean these feeling may even be  a secret even from yourself. While the feeling swirls in your subconscious, you  may not even be aware that you are mad or have other negative feelings.

Perhaps you would like to think you never get mad because you are just too nice a person. Perhaps the person you leave waiting has too much power over you for it to be safe to be mad at them directly. In any case, like a child who sticks out their tongue at someone when their back is turned, when you leave a friend waiting at a restaurant by themselves, standing on a street corner, sitting in a conference room, you are acting just as childish. Again, this behavior is passive aggressive. You could be assertive and say out loud, “I have a problem.”  But it is somehow easier to show up late.

I know someone whose husband  is habitually late. She sits in the living room dressed for a cocktail party or dinner with friends wondering if he has been in a car accident. Trips to pick up one thing at Home Depot so they can finish with a project become three hour marathons of waiting while the paint hardens on the brushes. She and her children have waited for him to eat so many dinners they are now used to eating at 8:00. Her family and friends have experienced her stress and humiliation as they waited with her so now they suggest plans that don’t include him. This has led to arguments of course, but he always has an external excuse for his lateness.  In her mind the message he is sending is that his work and tasks are more important than she is. Underneath there may be a bigger message. He may be saying, “I am angry and unhappy, and I don’t know how to express it.”

Lateness does not always have a Freudian or hidden message. And you may rarely be left tapping your foot or checking your watch. But remember, time communicates. If you are walking through the door apologizing and complaining about traffic or last-minute phone calls, listen to the message you are sending.

Now you have the handbook for the silent signals of lateness.”

How many sins can you see?

Always late

no matter what time i aim to be awake i am always running late, most of the time i give up on my plans as i ponder that long….

Live in graffiti

Lets sin

The seven deadly sins is not just a portray on our city walls it is engraved on them on all our buildings and in all of us. We all are built up of sin and it is craving to come out, what if an environment was built based on sin? 7 sins 7days 7 weeks 7 months can all these tie in together? starts on the 7th of every month for 7 days a sin for everyday.



What it is: Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.

Why you do it: You’re shiftless, lazy, and good fer nuthin’.

Your punishment in Hell will be: You’ll be thrown into snake pits.

Associated symbols & suchlike: Sloth is linked with the goat  and the color light blue.

“Sloth like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright.” – Benjamin Franklin


What it is: Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.

Why you do it: You live in possibly the most pampered, consumerist society since the Roman Empire.

Your punishment in Hell will be: You’ll be boiled alive in oil. Bear in mind that it’s the finest, most luxurious boiling oil that money can buy, but it’s still boiling.

Associated symbols & suchlike: Greed is linked with the frog and the color yellow.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Greed is a major issue with modern society, lets start with debt people are endlessly getting into debt because they have to own and buy everything they desire. What about drugs look at what greed is doing to our big stars our role models the people who we strive to be, they are overdosing on drugs purely from greed. What is happening to people that we are self destructing of inanimate objects.


What it is: Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.

Why you do it: Oh, please.

Your punishment in Hell will be: You’ll be smothered in fire and brimstone. Not kisses.

Associated symbols & suchlike: Lust is linked with the cow and the color blue.

“The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger; the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind, the latter to preserve themselves.” – Joseph Addison

Lust always has and always will exist, lust excites every person there is no bad thing about this sin apart from the destruction it can cause after.


What it is: Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.

Why you do it: Because you were weaned improperly as an infant.

Your punishment in Hell will be: You’ll be force-fed rats, toads, and snakes.

Associated symbols & suchlike: Gluttony is linked with the pig and the color orange.

“Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us.” – Peter De Vries

Gluttony has now transformed into binge drinking and the high rate we our diving into obesity. Gluttony is hitting our race hard and we need to do something about it before gluttony spins out of control.