People’s behavior can be categorized according to the utility factor that represents them.
The utility factor is the extent to which their behavior is governed by what they give or take and varies between two extremes:
- The external utility focus which is the value they seek to obtain from other people and
- The internal utility focus which is the reverse and is the value they themselves are eager and willing to give to others
These two poles create between them a continuum of behaviors, the interexternal utility focus space where people seek to find for themselves an optimum combination between what they seek to take from others and what at the same time they are willing to give to others; the varying combination of the two puts people on different points on the continuum line closer to one pole or the other.
Some examples to make the points clearer:
a) External utility focus people: They tend to approach, communicate, and associate only with people that have a meaning for them and that can serve and enhance their purpose, while they show a tendency to ignore the rest.
People in this group act very selfishly and may, in the end, find themselves being characterised as egoists.
b) Internal utility focus people: They tend to make themselves available to be approached by other people that may need them and are open to offering freely their knowledge and advice to help others become better.
These people are altruistic idealists mostly endowed with great knowledge like gurus that have reached a climax in their field and who are kindly disposed to helping others.
c) Interexternal utility focus people: This group covers the space in between the two poles. The people here are spread along the continuum line according to how much they are willing to give and to what degree they seek to take.
The degree of the presence of each of the two moves them closer to one pole or the other and defines in certain ways their character and personality. This, in real life, is by far the largest of the three groups.
For those interested to explore the subject further and give it more substance, there are some interesting statistical issues to consider like: Is the distribution of utility based people’s behavior normally distributed? Is its shape symmetrical about the mean or skewed? Are its distribution points spread widely or very much focused (deviation)? What factors influence such attributes?
But even without going deeper into the subject, the bare knowledge of the utility based approach to behavior will afford considerable benefits; It will enable people to understand their circle better and, as a result, cope with their relationships more effectively.