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Applied Psychology

The Importance of Understanding Human Behaviour

Apr 28, 2022 | By Jenna van Schoor
The Importance of Understanding Human Behaviour- Global SACAP

The way we behave impacts our own lives and the lives of those around us. But how much do we know about why we behave the way we do? Are we really choosing what is best for us or are we just behaving habitually? Beyond gaining a better appreciation of our own psychology, gaining a better understanding of human behaviour can help us understand the various internal and external factors that shape our experiences. It can also help us understand others better and improve how we engage and interact.

Why does gaining this kind of understanding about ourselves and others really matter? In this post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why studying the way humans think, feel and act is an integral part of achieving personal and professional goals, and contributing to the world at large.

1. Understanding motivation

Understanding what motivates us, and the people around us, can be a very helpful tool, both at home and at work. This is because intrinsic and extrinsic motivators drive people in different ways. Therefore, understanding the interplay of both can help us grasp how to motivate them (and ourselves).

This is applicable in any group setting, but particularly in the workplace, as maintaining a motivated workforce is key to building and growing a successful company. In psychology and social work, a deep understanding of human behaviour can also help develop innovative and effective ways to address various social issues.

On a micro-scale, understanding what people value can assist in resolving conflict. In addition, understanding what motivates people assists in finding constructive ways to meet shared goals.

2. Increasing productivity

As we mentioned already, a motivated workforce is an essential part of developing and maintaining a thriving business. However, there are many different ways to motivate people, and some will respond differently to intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For example, a greater sense of purpose and fulfilment (intrinsic) or getting a raise (extrinsic).

If we don’t understand what drives human behaviour in the first place, how can we be expected to know how to motivate others constructively? While manipulation and force may be an unfortunate part of toxic work environments, genuinely taking the time to understand how people think, act, and feel can help create a healthy and productive work environment.

By developing more self- and other-awareness, we can also understand how to work best with people. This, in turn, can help guide us to seek out more fulfilling relationships and environments in which we can thrive (and inspire others to do the same).

3. Creating high performing teams

We can learn so much by understanding others and ourselves and applying this to any team or social setting.

Ubuntu is an African philosophy, which means “I am, because you are”. It is part of the Zulu phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, which literally means that a person is a person through other people. The better I understand myself, the better I can show up in interactions with others, the better I can show up for others in interactions. Communicating clearly and collaborating effectively in teams is essential to creating successful teams that thrive – not only in what they do, but who they are and how they do it together .

Even on a grander scale, learning more about how people think, act and feel can help with nation-building efforts, and create more harmonious social relations.

Understanding how to motivate people, increasing productivity and creating high performance are three critical aspects that come into play when we talk about understanding human behaviour in a business environment. However, these essential skills can be equally applied to other relationships in our lives, and different settings, such as in our families, schools, and other public institutions.

The future of studying our actions, cognition and feelings

As we all know, the world we live in is changing rapidly, mainly thanks to the incredible pace of technological development. Ongoing developments in wearable technological devices mean that we are finding more advanced ways to track how we think, act and feel. In other words, studying human behaviour will only get more exciting as more advanced methods of collecting and analysing data, and wearable technology, become available.

For this reason, we believe that understanding the fundamentals of what drives our actions, cognition, and emotions will set anyone up for self-mastery in their career and personal lives regardless of whether you’re working in a business, growing a family, interested in psychology, or specialising in applied psychology or academic research.

Study human behaviour at SACAP Global

At SACAP Global, our short courses are grounded in Applied Psychology and designed to have practical application in the world. Whether you’re entering the workforce, looking to expand your skillset, or pursuing a topic of interest, our Intro to Human Behaviour short course will set you up for success in a rapidly evolving world.

If you’re interested in expanding on what you learn in this course, we also offer another related course called Factors Influencing Human Behaviour. Both of these short courses provide an insight into our own, and others’ behaviour. This can be pivotal in learning how to better connect with ourselves and others, on a personal and professional level.

Want to pursue a formal qualification? Our online micro-credential courses are “stackable”, which means that each course is part of a module that forms part of a broader academic qualification. Completing specific combinations of micro-credential courses will be recognised as equivalent to modules within degree programmes at SACAP South Africa. Contact us to find out more!

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