The Path of least Resistance creates a more accurate context for what controls behavior. We are seeking to understand the origins of conflict and how to end it. This article is part one of a three-part series that examines what controls behavior. Part two looks at the common types of conflicts (see our article Relationship IQ), and part three describes how people manage conflict in their lives (see our article Conflict Management). Conflict is the greatest human tragedy. Let’s understand it to end it.
To facilitate this process, we will take a brief look at the most common behavioral theories, and then discuss the Path of Least Resistance. Human beings have tried to control the behavior of the masses for centuries. Tyrants use fear and intimidation. Religion uses fear and reward to manage and manipulate on a massive scale. Survival instincts control behavior. Have the air sucked out of the room, and you will see extreme behaviors, once the air returns, it no longer controls you.
Pavlov and his dog taught us about stimulus response. Covey and Maslow discussed the human needs hierarchy. Maslow’s theory is that as we evolved, so did our motivations. At the lowest level are survival needs, air, water, and food. The next level is the need to belong, love, and relate. The third level is the need for recognition, dignity, and self-respect. The fourth level is self-actualization, being the best you can be. The final motivation is self-transcendence, living for the greater good of everyone and having an impact beyond your death. He described the needs below self-actualization as deficit needs; you feel something is missing in your life. Covey articulated it more simply by saying that we strive to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy.