ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Peoplewatching: A Good Book about Normal Human Behavior for Autistic Adults to Learn From

Updated on November 24, 2015

Normal human behavior explained and analyzed - a wonderful tool for autistic adults.

As an autistic person, many aspects of human behavior and culture do not come naturally to me. What the average person knows or learns instinctively, the autistic person must learn through study or miss out on a world of human interaction.

Some aspects of non-verbal communication are so vital that unless a person with autism can imitate them with some degree of accuracy, he or she will encounter severe difficulties - in getting a job, in keeping a job, in workplace advancement, in courting a mate, and in maintaining relationships.

The book that changed my life and finally put all of the human behaviors I was trying to mimic into perspective is Peoplewatching by Desmond Morris. Morris is likely not an autistic person himself, but a scientist who has examined human behavior as a scientist would examine the behavior of any animal. He explains it all in clear language and does not flinch from uncomfortable facts.


I am not a therapist or medical professional, simply a person who has a high-functioning type of autism sometimes called Asperger's Syndrome. I am recommending this book only as an autistic person who has found it to be an immensely useful resource in understanding other people and in making myself understood. In no way should this advice be construed as replacement for professional medical advice or psychological counseling.

This book is NOT about autism, but about normal human behaviors.


Why Aren't There More Books for Autistic Adults to Learn About Human Behavior from?

Since non-autistic people instinctively or near instinctively know or learn standard behavior such as eye contact, tone of voice and body language, there isn't much material aimed at teaching those behaviors.

We are extremely fortunate that some people have wondered why human beings do the things we do. Because of this, scientists have analyzed thousands of behaviors common to almost all human beings.

Peoplewatching is a book written by one such scientist.

image by Benito LeGrande, SXC
image by Benito LeGrande, SXC

Peoplewatching Explains Why as Well as What

The beauty of a book written to explain why people do the things they do is that not only does the book describe behaviors and the circumstances in which they occur but it attempts to explain the reasons behind them.

I have found that I learn things much better when I know the reasoning behind what I'm learning. I believe that this is pretty common and a useful learning or teaching strategy for people, with or without autism.

Peoplewatching by Desmond Morris

Please note once again that the book is not about autism, I'm recommending it to people who have high-functioning autism.

Several people have bought and returned it, upset that it's not about autism so I've added a few statements on this page. Fortunately, most folks will take that 'for' in the title to mean 'for' and not to mean 'about' but I figured I'd mention it a few times, just in case.

Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language
Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language
Peoplewatching is the book that (finally!) describes normal human behaviors and attempts to explain why people do the things they do.

Peoplewatching Explains Things People You Know Can't or Won't Explain

Peoplewatching is a great book for adult autistics because it unabashedly examines, defines, and analyzes normal human behavior all laid out in an engaging book easily understandable to the layman. It touches on topics many people are unaware of and it plainly explains behaviors which many people might be reluctant or too uninformed to explain to an adult friend or family member.

Not only does it examine behaviors such as eye contact and tone of voice in regular social circumstances, it examines behaviors that relate to love and sexuality as well. That's right, you can learn about things like flirting with (and noticing romantic interest in) potential partners from this book!

I would strongly recommend Peoplewatching by Desmond Morris to any adult struggling with autism or Asperger Syndrome. It has cleared up a lot of things for me such as how much eye contact is normal and what kind of things I may be doing that might make someone think I'm flirting with them if I'm not.

A Pocket Guide to Manwatching - A smaller version of Peoplewatching

The pocket version is also not about people with AS, but about neurotypical behavior.

Pocket Guide To Manwatching
Pocket Guide To Manwatching
This is basically a condensed version of Peoplewatching. It's a bit of a trade-off. This book is far more portable but I find I do miss some of the big photos and illustrations from the full-sized version.

Peoplewatching is not about autism but about normal human behaviors.

Do you think Peoplewatching by Desmond Morris could be a useful tool for adults with autism?


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)