Predicting human behaviour can give you an advantage in any situation. By being able to anticipate how a person might respond or react, you can steer it to more or less the direction you want it to go.

If you're trying to persuade a person to do something, the ability of predicting human behaviour can help you adjust so that you can achieve your desired ends.

Human behaviour is complex. There is no foolproof way to tell exactly how one would behave in certain circumstances. In general, however, there are things you should look out for.

1) Interest

The question is always, "What is in it for me?" If you are trying to see how a person might react to something, evaluate whether they will profit or lose, or experience pain or pleasure from the outcome.

This is not fail-safe though. Sometimes a person acts irrationally and not in their own best interest. This means that you have to include other factors in predicting human behaviour.

2) Unconscious Need

Expect the unexpected. According to Sigmund Freud, sometimes behaviour is neither rational nor irrational, but arational.

Be prepared for behaviour that will seem to come from nowhere. This may spring from the unconscious mind, from memories of experiences or emotions that have been buried.

3) Character

Knowing a person's character definitely helps in predicting human behaviour. Is this person essentially honest or dishonest? Is he trustworthy? Industrious or idle? Where did he come from? What values does he have?

Character is a blend of genetics and deeply-rooted habits. If you want to predict how someone would behave, carefully observe a person's routines, practices or way of life.

When you understand a person's character, you will rarely be surprised by their behaviour. It is said that man can hardly violate his own nature.

Countless factors affect a person's behaviour, but the society and the environment this person is exposed to should not be taken for granted as well. These contribute greatly to how a person thinks, whether a behaviour is acceptable or not, and whether something will be considered common or unusual.

It can also help you make sense of the individual's interests, unconscious needs and character... helping you adjust how you relate to them.

Predicting human behaviour is far from easy. There are no rules of thumb or formulas, no set guidelines or timeframes. The trick is to be observant, open-minded and intuitive.

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