Science of Self ™ Knowledge Centre

Layers of Performance (Layer 8: Behaviour)

Sep 4, 2012


This is part of the Layers of Performance framework: Click Here to read the introduction.


Over the years, we have seen many different models created to explain and understand behaviour. Some that we've seen use old-school descriptive words, like the four temperaments: sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic; and some even use animals, like the four birds: eagle, peacock, dove, and owl. These sorts of models all owe their origins to the ancient Greeks and, at their heart, are attempting to describe how we act and communicate.

Behaviour can be broken into two core components:

  • Natural Behaviour: Our natural behaviour is our preferred way of doing things. That is, with no external pressures acting on us, this is the way we would choose to go about doing things.
  • Adapted Behaviour: Our adapted behaviour is the way we perceive our environment requiring us to alter our approach, be it for survival or success. For example, we may adopt different approaches working with our colleagues at work than with our teammates on the sporting field.

We have placed behaviour on the outside of the Layers of Performance model, as it is what people see on the surface — behaviour is always observable. Besides a person's physical appearance, behaviour is the very first thing we notice about a person and includes their tone of voice, words, body language, pace of speech, and actions.

With behaviour being the first thing that we notice about others, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of assuming that their behaviour is their personality. Personality is much larger than just behaviour and is made up of many parts, some in the Layers of Performance framework, and some outside its scope.

Behaviour is an important element to understand as it influences everything we do, particularly our work and relationships. By learning more about our behavioural style and the behavioural styles of others, we can communicate our ideas more effectively, develop better relationships, and find work that we are naturally suited too.

The most well known model that has ever been invented for grouping together common behavioural characteristics is called the DISC model of human behaviour, created by Harvard Psychologist William Moulton Marston. Click here to learn more about the DISC model.

Related Information:

Topics: Profiling & Assessment Tools- DISC Profile

Theo Winter

Theo Winter

Client Services Manager, Writer & Researcher. Theo is one of the youngest professionals in the world to earn an accreditation in TTI Success Insight's suite of psychometric assessments. For more than a decade, he worked with hundreds of HR, L&D and OD professionals and consultants to improve engagement, performance and emotional intelligence of leaders and their teams. He authored the book "40 Must-Know Business Models for People Leaders."


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