Gestures, facial expressions, posture – they are all crucial to what we’re communicating, though many of us don’t realise it

My interest in human behaviour and psychology started in primary school. In my attempts to socialise with other children, I had a constant, nagging feeling that everybody else had received a manual entitled How to Interact with Others. I was socially awkward, to put it mildly, and this meant I was picked on a lot, which in turn meant I started to ask myself some questions: how did my behaviour differ from others? Why did my antagonists act as they did?

And so began my lifelong exploration into why we do the things we do – to others and to ourselves. Psychological theory was interesting, but more urgently I needed practical social-survival skills. So I began to investigate every thinkable area of human behaviour. I took acting lessons. I worked in marketing. I studied philosophy. I looked into how the media shapes us. I developed a deep interest in magic (which is really about controlling the expectations of others). I took an interest in the structure of language. And, naturally, I did a lot of digging into social and cognitive psychology.

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