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Why Do We All Behave In The Way We Do? Book Review by Gillian Young and the girls

Gillian and the girls, reading How Do We All Behave In The Way We Do?

Today, I’m reviewing the third in S S O’Connor’s Secrets of Life Series. Thank you, LiterallyPR and S S O’Connor, for my copy in exchange for an honest review.


Following on from How Did Life End Up With Us? and How Did We Get To Be So Different?, book three: Why Do We All Behave In The Way We Do? delves into the studies of human logic through the works of many greats such as Adam Smith, Elinor Ostrom and Martin Nowak.

Until now, these heavyweights in human psychology were unknown to me, but, as in O’Connor’s previous books, I have finished this book having discovered a great deal. When you read the book blurb you’ll see why!

But what did I really think of Why Do We All Behave In The Way We Do? Read on and find out.

S S O'Connor. Author of The Secrets of Life series


SS O’Connor spent 20+ years as an advertising executive before becoming a serial entrepreneur, assembler of private equity projects, investor and corporate strategist. He has been chairman/director of numerous public and private companies. His acclaimed novel, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, was published in 2013. He lives in London and Somerset.


In this, the third book of The Secrets of Life quartet, SS O'Connor explains how game theory developed, and why it came to show us not only how humans arrive at their decisions but why so much of the apparently bizarre behaviour of the natural world has the same Darwinian reasoning to it. Instead of the confusion and chaos one might expect, he shows that there's a profound logic behind the choices organisms face when they interact and how we humans then refined this process through the addition of our intelligence and language skills.

Starting with the extraordinary new ways of thinking that Adam Smith opened the world's eyes to, the book progresses to the 20th century - and shows how the mathematical reasoning behind our thought processes was gradually revealed - at a time when the very future of the world was at stake.

From the earliest investigations through to the fevered disagreements of later experts, this third volume lays out the issues that game theory was to illuminate. In particular, the book provides insights into how the interests of the individual should be balanced against those of the group, and why the mechanism of trading would extend far further into our lives than we could ever have imagined.

As the story unfolds, it becomes ever clearer how cooperation evolved to be the critical factor at every level of life. It was the force that built our world, and it would settle so deeply into our hardwiring that it would become instinctive and innate in us. Perhaps most pleasing, the same logic also shows how the benefits of collaboration are always bound to ratchet upwards - and how this will inevitably lead to ever-increasing levels of moral behaviour.


This book is bursting with questions on human behaviour. S S O’Connor investigates the answers by researching the works of revered philosophers, professors, mathematicians, and economists. The minds of these people are staggering. To name but a few, there is Adam Smith, John Von Neumann, Lin Ostrom and Martin Nowak. Each person’s work is equally enthralling. Some of these theories, however, were a bit hard to swallow, such as those of Professor Garrett Hardin. In 1968, Hardin wrote his paper entitled, The Tragedy of the Commons, - this was a theory of how humans have come to the point of natural disasters. To quote SS O'Connor on Hardin's theory,

Phew. Strong stuff, even then.

Within this book, there are so many opinions, discoveries, and great topics for debate. If, like me, you’ve never heard of the Hawk/Dove Principle or The Prisoner’s Dilemma - then get this book! Why Do We All Behave In The Way We Do? definitely gets the reader thinking.

I’ve looked at computers and the age of the internet and cannot even begin to think how this all came about. Then, I read this book and discovered John Von Neumann, aka ‘the best brain in the world’. Many general computers are based on ‘Von Neumann architecture’, which in laymen’s terms, is a design model for computers. S S O’Connor talks about Von Neumann’s fascination and ultimate research into human behaviour and how ‘we’ interact. To quote SS O’Connor on Von Neumann:

John Von Neumann was convinced that he could pick this wildly complicated picture of strategic interaction apart.’

Once again, S S O’Connor has tackled a subject with humour and detail and in a language which is easy to follow and digest.

I look forward to reading the last in this fascinating series.

Thank you, once again, to LiterallyPR and S S O’Connor for giving me the opportunity to read and review Why Do We All Behave In The Way We Do?


On 11th June, I'll be reviewing Swinging for Joy by Aishah Hight and illustrated by Whimsical Designs by CJ.

London and her amazing dog Joy encounter a young boy who’s lost a family treasure. Inspired to help, Joy springs into action, leading London and the boy on a delightful adventure to find it. Will they find what they’re looking for and discover the legacy behind the lost treasure?

Thank you for reading my latest review. I hope you enjoyed it and that you’ll join me next time for my review on Swinging For Joy.😊

See you soon!

Gill x

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