Rules and Guidelines of Human Behavior

The Three Rules of Human Behavior:

Three R?s of Human behavior

Reason, Response, Results



We always have a motive for what we do!

Every action and every word is purposeful. Because the reasons are often emotionally based we cannot explain our feelings so we say, ?I don?t know why I did that.? feeling we cannot sufficiently explain or are afraid the true reasons will not be well received.

When analyzing a person?s behavior, always ask yourself, ?What emotional reason would lead them to do what they did??



We act in accordance to what ?We Think? others think.

We are often motivated by what we think other people are thinking about us. For example: While getting a drink between classes some jerk put a wad of gum on the fountain causing it to squirt your new jeans making it appear that you wet yourself. You know it?s only water, but worry that others will assume that you didn?t make it to the bathroom in time. As a result you may avoid class, hold a book over the wet spot, or feel the need to explain (or complain) to people. Your actions were probably caused by fears of what others might think, not what they will actually think. They are usually so wrapped up in their own thoughts, they don?t notice your situation.



Situations defined as real are real in their consequences.

Everything you do has results (consequences and after-effects). In the water fountain incident your worry about what others will think led you to change your behavior. For instance by taking time trying to dry the water spot you get to class late resulting in detention or maybe you tried to explain yourself and everyone becomes aware of the wet spot and your embarrassment. Whatever your reaction, there will be consequences of how you defined and interpreted that situation.

These three rules explain the majority of interpersonal behaviors. Once you understand them you are on your way to mastering human behavior. While these three rules are the foundation of behavior, there are many guidelines and tips for improving your personal and professional success. The following suggestions can help you reach your goals.


When you interact with people, one of three styles are used.

1. If they act like a parent, you are expected to act like a child.

2. If they act like a child, you are expected to act like a parent.

3. If they act like an adult, you too will act like an adult.

4. If you act like an adult, they will also act like an adult.

What do I mean by ?act like a parent, child or adult?? A ?child? reacts to a parent?s demands of obedience with either compliance or rebelliousness. A parent is someone who is believed to have the authority to dole out punishments or provide rewards.

A parent?s role consists of questioning, ordering, punishing or rewarding while a child?s role consists of being submissive and obedient or rebellious and disobedient. A parent feels they have the right to expect obedience to their authority. On the other hand an adult is someone that is reasonable, acts rationally and accepts others as equally important and valid as themselves.

How can we use this ?role? information? When people treat others like children they are expecting them to act as subordinates (powerless children). They feel the ?child? must answer to them and seek their approval. In other words, if someone questions you (your motives or actions) expecting an explanation, they are playing ?parent?. Even if they have authority over you, respond to them rationally as an ?adult?.

For example, a friend asks, ?Where were you yesterday, I called and called and no one answered?? You can explain where you were, whom you were with and what you were doing (like a child would) or you can respond like a parent (if you want to take that role) and answer with your own question like, ?Why do you want to know?? This reversal of roles is still a parent/child interaction and often leads to feelings of anger.

On the other hand an adult responds with something like, ?I had things to do, why were you calling?? This is a factual and unemotional reaction that will lead to a rational conversation. Maintaining the adult position usually results in the other person also adopting an adult position. This leads to a positive and constructive interaction based on mutual respect.

Contempt, the emotion of disrespect, is the only emotion expressed on only one side of the face. Most people refer to this facial expression as a ?smirk?! Although few people don?t notice the typical smirk, but those that do often don?t understand its meaning. A smirk represents contempt and suggests that the ?smirker? feels better than you. By recognizing the smirk and its meaning, you gain power by knowing where they stand without anyone saying a word. This knowledge allows you to plan your reactions in advance.

This knowledge can be used in many ways. Knowing someone thinks they are superior gives you useful information to work with. For instance, you can make them an ally by suggesting (before anything else is said) that you know they have more knowledge or are smarter than you (both may be wrong) and ask for their thoughts. When you do this, you will often see the smirk disappear and they will see you as smart (since you recognize their superiority) and it makes them feel good about you. The result is often a cooperative relationship. A wise man once said, ?the best way to eliminate an enemy is to make them your friend.?

One last note: Whenever someone says something derogatory about you and then tries to qualify their comment with, ?Oh I was just joking!? beware! They are trying to make their comment seem as though it was a ?just a harmless remark?. What you need to be aware of (not necessarily announce out loud though) is that joking or not, their comment was on their mind. In other words, ?If they said it, they thought it!?

Putting this all together in an example:

You are at the mall with a friend and you see your boyfriend being very friendly with some girl. When he notices you he says something to her and she walks away. You come up to him to see what he is doing and say hello. But before you can he acts angry and says, ?What are you doing here? You said you were going to stay at home. I called but your mom said you were here. Why did you lie to me? How can I trust you when you lie to me?? As you try to explain that your friend wanted your help picking out a gift for her sister?s wedding he interrupts and says that he is going home and if you want him to forgive you, you better be home to receive his call in a half hour and then he aggressively walks away and you feel bad resulting in the loss of enjoyment from your outing.

What was really going on?

When your boyfriend saw you, he was afraid you would accuse him of flirting and that he is cheating on you. Instead of simply acting like a rational adult, he feared he may have to answer to you as an authority (parent) figure. Instead his fear of what you might be thinking led him to evade a possibly bad situation by taking on the parent role first (hoping to force you into the child role). So instead of waiting for you to confront him, he evades the situation lying or telling the unpleasant truth by acting angry. Using the appearance of anger he assumes the role of the parent and through questioning you he tries to force you to respond to his authority. Since his reaction causes a parent-child conflict you both go your separate ways feeling depressed and fearful and the result is that your relationship is damaged along with your self-esteem.

How could this be have been handled:

1. Realize that his parent role of confronting you and appearing angry are actually based on fear, a valid conclusion.

2. You take on the adult role when he asks about why you are here, by responding with, ?Angela?s sister is getting married, would you like to help us look for a wedding present?? You have complied in an adult and non-confrontational manner soothing the situation. This response shows that his fears have no basis and all is OK. He will probably answer like an adult with something like ?sure? or ?Naw I?m going home?.

For more information (and much more) go to:


Short note about the author

David A Camp PhD is a widely trained criminologist, consulting expert (from local news to national publications) and professor of criminal justice that specializes in deception and deception detection. His students have ranged from police and judges to secret service agents and U.S. Marshals.


Author: David A. Camp, Ph.D.