What are the causes of human behavior

Psychology of change

Finality: Human action is always goal-oriented


Winfried Berner, The implementation advice

In principle, we have two options for explaining a person's behavior: We can either use his or her causes think about ("He does that, because ... ") or via the aims of his actions ("He does that, in order to ... "). One is called a causal explanation (causa: reason, cause), the other a final one (finis: end, goal, purpose). Of course, these two explanations are not mutually exclusive: behavior can have both causes In practice, however, the final explanatory approach proves to be more productive: It provides both more conclusive reasons and better predictions, and it helps to better recognize which reactions might be useful and which might not.

  • Causal and final explanation
  • The distinction between causal and final explanations is very old in the history of science. Aristotle already distinguished (among other things) between the "causa efficiens" (effective cause) and the "causa finalis" (ultimate cause). The founder of individual psychology Alfred Adler (1870-1937) recognized that final explanations are far more useful for understanding human behavior than causal ones. An example of his student Rudolf Dreikurs (1897 - 1972) illustrates the difference: If a woman gets up in a lecture and leaves the room, then the causal explanation is that she goes out, because she is thirsty, not very satisfactory: "The fact that the lady was thirsty does not explain anything. It does not mean that she had to go out. But if she wants a glass of water, got to they go out. "(Dreikurs 1933, 2002, p. 54). In other words, from its purpose, its" finality ", its intention, human actions can be better and more fully understood than from its" reasons ", its causality.

  • Final explanation explains more


  • Causal and final explanations