What Other People’s Behavior Can Tell You About Them

From silence to incessant speech and pulling away to unexpectedly drawing close, the behavior of other people can seem to speak volumes—even if you are not entirely sure what the behavior is trying to say. Many of us internalize the behavior of other people and take on responsibility for different actions and outcomes, but other people’s behavior cannot be regarded as a reflection of you; instead, behavior can tell you about a person’s mental state, their needs, their relationships and attachment habits, and may even provide insights into their family of origin.

The Study of Behavior

The study of behavior is both new and old. Although dedicated psychological theories and schools of thought are relatively new, world literature, epics, and oral tradition have all explored human behavior, what it means, and how it impacts individuals and society as a whole. Behavior is a compelling field of study, because human behavior can provide an immense window into how people think and process. Understanding how and why people behave the way that they do can help improve relationships, de-escalate conflict, and create greater harmony in social spheres and entire communities. The study of behavior has many different names, depending on its focus and scope, but can include fields of study such as sociology, psychology, and even anthropology.

Behavior and Psychology

Behavior plays a substantial role in the application of psychological study, as behavior is often the unconscious acting-out of thought processes and ingrained habits. While words and behaviors can both be chosen carefully, it is behavior that is more often delivered without conscious thought or intention, and therefore behavior is often placed under a microscope when evaluating someone’s mental health or mental state. Behavior plays a role in virtually all aspects of psychology, but is perhaps more highly elevated and regarded in studies such as behaviorism, which posit that behavior is the most significant driving force of human mental health, and that changing behavior will ultimately change health.

Learning to Read Behavior

Someone who has studied human behavior, such as a psychologist, licensed social care worker, or even a sociologist will have a much easier time discerning the most likely meaning of different behaviors, but once you have a basic understanding of how people work, you can begin to understand the behavior of those around you more effectively.

What Behavior Tells You About People

Plenty of people’s communication resides in areas other than spoken communication, and behavior is an important one of those arenas. If someone is regularly hostile toward you, for instance, it could indicate that they do not want to be close, or are actively trying to set a boundary between the two of you—even if they also regularly say that they do not have any issues with you, or are perfectly content. If someone regularly shows you that they care by remembering important details about you or your life, but they do not frequently verbalize their love or affection for you, it is likely safe to suggest that they do value you.

Behavior can also tell you about others in ways that do not relate to you (learn more here). If, for instance, someone is regularly loud and boisterous, it could be a personality trait—but it could also indicate insecurity, or a constant lack of attention or affection while growing up or at home. If someone with whom you regularly interact always seems nervous, jumpy, or fearful, it could suggest that they have been or are currently being treated poorly by someone close to them—or that they have experienced a major upset.

Although you should not consider yourself an expert in behavior and ignore all verbal communication, understanding that behavior is an immensely valuable form of communication can help relieve you of romantic heartache, encourage you to be a more present and understanding friend and family member, and can help you navigate the world with compassion, rather than anger or disdain.


Blog oficial da escritora Fabíola Simões que, em 2015, publicou seu primeiro livro: "A Soma de todos Afetos".


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