Psychology considered as the science of human behavior is concerned with man's response to the impressions made upon him by objects, people, and events. They make up the situations that he meets. Behavior--the individual's way of dealing with these situations--if not a complete failure, results finally in some sort of adjustment to the conditions in which one lives; and this adjustment culminates in social and moral habits, in habits of work, in ways of thinking and acting; in short, in habits of life. And through all the adapting process runs the influence of physiological conditions, and the effect of their changes caused by the manner of life and the advance of years.
The adjustment may be mechanical and rigid, insensible to misfits, without power to readjust as conditions alter; or, again, it may be flexible and adaptive--capable of new adjustments as circumstances change. This adjustment represents the capacity of man for achievement. It is his efficiency--the strategy and tactics of life. It is well, then, from time to time to take an inventory of stock and try to discover the significance of the facts and principles of human behavior which investigation has revealed. Concerning the more common matters of every-day life, however, psychologists have offered relatively little of interpretative value. Yet these experiences make up the day's work. They determine its quantity and quality.
Much has been written about making others efficient, but comparatively little about one's own method of thinking, working, and acting. Yet knowing oneself reaches far into success and failure; and there is no other way of understanding the behavior of others. It is, therefore, in the hope of interpreting a few of these personal experiences of daily life that this book is written. The topics that could be discussed extend far beyond the limits of a single volume. The choice, of course, is largely personal, but the writer has tried to select types of conduct, as well as phases and causes of behavior, that are fundamental to thinking and acting, whether in the life of social intercourse or in the business and professional world. And, after all, thinking and acting determine achievement.
Table of Contents
I Organization for Mental Efficiency II. Thinking and Acting III. Habit in Preparation for Efficiency IV. The Psychology of Learning V. Fatigue and its Psychology VI. Curiosities of Memory VII. Memory and its Improvement VIII. The Psycholgy of Testimony and Rumor IX. Our Varying Selves X. The Psychology of Digestion
Edgar James Swift was born in Ravenna, Ohio, in 1860. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in 1886 and spent several years studying in Europe.
From 1895-1900, he was at Stevens Point Normal School, where he began publishing works in psychology and education. After earning a doctorate from Clark University in 1903, Swift joined Washington University as the first chair of psychology and education.
After the University created separate departments of psychology and education in 1924, Swift continued as a Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology until his retirement in 1931. He died in 1932.