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Influencing human behavior (1925) by H. A. Overstreet, PDF ebook

Influencing human behavior 

Influencing human behavior


Contents of the book:

Part one: Introductory techniques. I. The key problem: capturing the attention -- II. The appeal to wants -- III. The problem of vividness -- IV. The psychology of effective speaking -- V. The psychology of effective writing -- VI. Crossing the interest dead-line -- VII. Making ideas stick

Part two: Fundamental techniques. VIII. How to change persons: the entering wedge -- IX. The building of habits: associative techniques -- X. Our unconscious fabrication habits -- XI. The problem of straight thinking -- XII. Diagnosing the public -- XIII. Training the creative mind -- XIV. Conflict and invention -- XV. The technique of humor -- XVI. The individual and his world

Excerpt from the author's introduction

The object of these chapters is to discover how far the data of modern psychology can be put to use by each of us in furthering what is really the central concern of our lives. 

That central concern is the same whether we be teachers, writers, parents, merchants, statesmen, preachers, or any other of the thousand and one types into which civilization has divided us. In each case the same essential problem confronts us. If we cannot solve it, we are failures; if we can, we are — in so far, at least — successes. What is this central problem? 

Obviously, it is to be, in some worthwhile manner, effective within our human environment. We are writers? Then there is the world of editors, some of whom we must convince as to our ability. If we succeed in doing that, then there is, further, the reading public. It is a bit of sentimental nonsense to say that it makes no difference at all if a writer convinces not even a single soul of his pertinence and value, so be it only that he "express" himself. We have a way of being over-generous with so-called misunderstood geniuses. 

True, this is a barbarian world; and the fine soul has its hard innings. But the chances are that a writer who can convince no single person of the value of what he writes probably has nothing of value to write. At any rate, as his manuscripts come back, he might well cease putting the blame on philistine editors and public long enough to ask himself whether, indeed, he is not deficient in the very elementary art of making the good things he has to say really understandable. We are businessmen? Then there are the thousands of potential customers whom we must induce to buy our product. If they refuse, then bankrupt. We are teachers?

 Obviously, we are not teachers by the right of sitting on a platform. We are teachers only when something of what we intend takes place in the lives before us. If we are invariably confronted by indifference, boredom, hostility, hatred, we had best earn our salaries at another undertaking. We are parents? It may seem somewhat far-fetched to say that the chief concern of a parent is to be accepted by his children. "What" we cry, "aren't they our children; and aren't children required to respect their parents?" That, of course, is all old philosophy; old ethics; old psychology as well, coming from the day when children, as wives, were our property. Nowadays children are persons, and the task of parents is to be real persons themselves to such an extent that their children accept them as of convincing power in their lives. Hence the parent is no parent simply by right of his or her procreative power. For parents, in unnumbered cases, substitute "tyrant," "autocrat," "sentimentalist," "boor."

We need not specify further. As individuals, our chief task in life is to make our personality, and what our personality has to offer, effective in our particular environment of human beings. Nor need this connote undue egoism on our part. Lincoln had to make his personality, and what his personality had to offer, effective in his environment. So did the Nazarene, to the extent that folk gave up their all and followed him. So did Socrates. Neither Jesus nor Socrates, to be sure, could persuade the greater part of their human environment; and so they both met a tragic fate. But they persuaded enough of their fellows, profoundly enough, to make the impress of their personalities last through succeeding centuries.
About the author :

Harry Allen Overstreet was an American writer and lecturer, and a popular author on modern psychology and sociology. His 1949 book, The Mature Mind, was a substantial best-seller that sold over 500,000 copies by 1952. Harry Allen Overstreet was born in San Francisco, California, on 25 October 1875.

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