Influencing human behavior by Harry Allen Overstreet - Summary

This book is a jack of all trades. It goes into capturing peoples attention, how to speak/write, planting ideas in people, analyzing crowd behaviors etc. while being one of the most excellently literary books I've read in a long while.

Influencing human behavior by Harry Allen Overstreet


The key problem: capturing the attention

What we attend to controls our behavior. What we can get others to attend to controls their behavior.

=> is the key to influencing human behavior

Get a student to say "No" at the beginning, or a customer, child, husband, or wife, and it takes the wisdom and the patience of angels to transform that bristling negative into an affirmative.

The appeal to wants

We capture attention when what we say or do is in response to people's wants. There, apparently, is at least a clue!

No appeal to reason that is not also an appeal to a want can ever be effective.

The problem of vividness

The secret of all true persuasion is to induce the person to persuade himself. The chief task of the persuader, therefore is to induce the experience. The rest will take care of itself.

The psychology of effective speaking

try to cultivate a musical voice of a fairly wide range and flexible use.

accuracy of phrasing develops accuracy of mind

The psychology of effective writing

All I could see from where I stood was three long mountains and a wood. I turned and looked the other way and aw three islands in a bay. So with my eyes I traced the line of the horizon, thin and find, straight around and till I was come back to where I started from.

Crossing the interest dead-line

Note again that our novelist starts, not with general observations, but with a concrete, easily visualized, and interesting situation. Nor is the situation a static one. Each sentence is a situation, which is part of the larger one; and each moves us on to the next.

Present a cause in action. The mind will demand the outcome.

For example:

The lady descended upon me after my lecture like locomotive spurting steam. I edged back from the spary of her words. So you are the man who that nasty article about Americans in Mexico? ...

Making ideas stick

Only as our minds are sharpened are we able to fashion the phrases that stick.

How to change persons: the entering wedge

A person, in short, is what he is by reason of the more or less unified aggregate of his habit systems.

The building of habits: associative techniques

the environments we provide are habit builders.

Our unconscious fabrication habit

Ignorance, relative or absolute, is always the fertile soil for fabrication.

The problem of straight thinking

He[The average adult in an average small city] is now a man of between thirty and forty. He has read the newspapers and popular magazines; has gone to "happy ending" plays; perhaps to church; has learned to make a fair amount of money. He has never had the chance to subject his mind to a thorough overhauling as far as the really crucial matters of human life are concerned. HIs mind, therefore, is, save in rare cases, a museum of immature fixations, snap judgments, picked-up prejudices, and unverified "hand-me-downs." It is the mind of a child on a the shoulders of an adult.

Diagnosing the public

Training the creative mind

Conflict and invention

The technique of humor

Judge not, lest ye lose the fine power of indulgent laughter.

The individual and his world


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