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Why People Behave the Way They Do? Essay

Dr. Clawson’s article is dedicated to one of the crucial aspects of organizing successful business – leadership. The author makes a good point by comparing leaders to psychologists and emphasizing the need for understanding human behavior (Clawson 1). Clawson’s article, as well as other his works, has received much positive feedback. Many scholars and business professionals find Clawson’s approach to leadership rather productive and perspective.

In her research on employees’ resistance to leaders’ commands, Judith Zimmerman analyzes Clawson’s definition of leadership and its significant features (239). Following Clawson’s ideas, Zimmerman agrees that people’s perspective on innovations delineates their acceptance of or refusal from the new trends suggested by leaders of the organizations (239). Motivating employees is a difficult task that demands excellent leadership skills (Clawson 1; Zimmerman 242). Clawson’s article gives insight to the proper behavior of a leader who wants to achieve the most beneficial outcomes for his or her company.

The highlights of the article are the explanations of the beginnings of people’s behavioral tendencies, motivation, and the rational-emotive model of behavior (REB). When describing the initial factors of behavioral patterns, Clawson identifies several core questions delineating people’s conduct (4). According to the author, such questions as “when I’m cold, am I made warm?” and “when I’m alone, am I loved?” (3) suggest another important query: “how can I get other people to do what I want?” (4). Clawson explains that on the way to achieving this aim, people are dependent on such factors as genetic inheritance, strengthening of the tendencies, and memes (5-7). Genetic endowment is considered a significant element in forming people’s leadership traits.

Not all of our features can be nurtured and learned: a considerable part of them is installed in the genetic code (Clawson 5). What concerns tendencies of people’s character, Clawson remarks that they are more or less developed by the age of then and later they are only solidified but can rarely change (5). Therefore, no matter how many achievements a person makes, there still may remain some aspects whose origin goes back to childhood and that cannot be altered (Clawson 5-6). In contrast with genetically inherited features, memes are defined as the ideas cultivated during one’s conscious life and shared with others (Clawson 7). Clawson draws a parallel between memes and genes, the former ones being mental correspondents to biological heredity (7).

The author suggests an interesting approach to understanding motivation. Rather than seeing it as a punishment-reward opposition, Clawson remarks that a good leader should have a more comprehensive perception of motivation (8). For instance, he notes that many people tend to leave a job when they feel neglected and when their abilities are not noticed (Clawson 9). Grounding on his views on motivation and memetic and genetic inheritance, Clawson introduces a rational-emotive model of conduct that includes events, behaviors, conclusions, feelings, and VABEs (values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations) (10-12). With the help of this model, the author explains the causes of people’s behavior and provides tools helping to lead one’s subordinates (Clawson 10).

Clawson provides an engaging explanation of how and why people make assumptions and how these assumptions delineate our behavior (12-13). A significant place in Clawson’s model belongs to the explanation of self-concept and defense mechanism. He divides self into three core parts: the ideal self, self-image, and self-esteem (Clawson 20). When there is a big gap between one’s self-image and the ideal self, a person feels bad about oneself (Clawson 20). Defense mechanisms come into action when people start to realize the gaps in the dimensions of self. Clawson emphasizes that when a leader wants to make a positive change in people, he or she needs to organize the work in such way which would not activate people’s defense mechanisms (22).

The article by James Clawson provides significant outcomes on a business level as well as on personal one. On a personal level, I will take away the notion of the fundamental questions and the impact which the answers to these questions can produce. It is quite essential to realize that the “holes” in one’s personality can delineate one’s behavior and even attitude towards other people (Clawson 3). Another thing that particularly interested me in the article was the author’s emphasis on genetic inheritance. It never occurred to me how much influence genes have on people’s behavior.

After reading the article, I will pay more attention to people’s culture and give it credit before making any conclusions or suppositions. Another focal point of the article that attracted my attention was the notion of VABEs. People’s tendency to protect their VABEs impressed me a lot. I would have never thought that there are so many internal and external factors taking part in formulating assumptions and defending them. Finally, Clawson’s definition of self and interaction between its three constituents (the ideal self, self-image, and self-esteem) is an essential takeaway from this article (20).

On a business level, several significant conclusions can also be made. First of all, I will be more attentive to people’s cultural and family background when making professional decisions. Clawson was rather good at explaining that a true leader should not only think about the employees’ present behavioral patterns but also pay attention to the causes of such conduct (5). Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarities of the employees’ organizational, family, regional, national, and sub-national culture (Clawson 2). Another valuable lesson from the article is Clawson’s interpretation of motivation. Having read the article, I realized that motivation plays a decisive role in getting the employees interested in dedicated work. A good leader should not operate only two options – reward and punishment (Clawson 8). Instead, to make employees genuinely passionate about what they are doing, it is necessary to organize a variety of motivational techniques and choose the most appropriate of them for different people.

Clawson’s article is much more than a scholarly paper on leadership. It discusses a number of crucial issues concerning interpersonal communication both on business and personal levels. The author shares his experience and knowledge about the most effective approaches that should be employed by good leaders. Some aspects of the article are analyzed at more than just one level: Clawson combines evidence from psychology and business ethics to present a full picture of his theory. His rational-emotive model of behavior provides the explanation of the causes of people’s actions and decisions and suggests tools that might be helpful for leaders to manage their subordinates. Clawson’s works have had an impact on many researchers in the field of leadership. His article “A Leader’s Guide to Why People Behave the Way They Do” gives both personal and professional advice on how to understand and influence people.

Works Cited

Clawson, James G. “A Leader’s Guide to Why People Behave the Way They Do.” University of Virginia – Darden School of Business, 2001, pp. 1-28.

Zimmerman, Judith. “Why Some Teachers Resist Change and What Principals Can Do About It.” NASSP Bulletin, vol. 90, no. 3, 2006, pp. 238-249.

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"Why People Behave the Way They Do?" IvyPanda, 14 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/why-people-behave-the-way-they-do/.

1. IvyPanda. "Why People Behave the Way They Do?" September 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/why-people-behave-the-way-they-do/.


IvyPanda. "Why People Behave the Way They Do?" September 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/why-people-behave-the-way-they-do/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Why People Behave the Way They Do?" September 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/why-people-behave-the-way-they-do/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Why People Behave the Way They Do'. 14 September.

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