Yet commonsense can never be sufficient to find the right motor will impulses. The ideal distribution of pauses is extremely different from merely stopping the work when a state of overfatigue has been reached. Even general scientific rules could not be the last word. Subtle psychological tests would have to be devised by which the plan for alternation between work and rest could be carefully adjusted to the individual needs of every rural worker. The mere sensation of fatigue may be entirely misleading. It must be brought into definite relations to temperature, moistness, character of the work, training, and other factors. On the other hand, the absence of fatigue feeling would be in itself no indication that the limit of safety has not been passed, and yet the work itself must suffer when objective overfatigue of the system has begun. At the right moment a short interruption may secure again the complete conditions for successful work. If that moment has passed, an exhaustion may result which can no longer be repaired by a short rest. Any wrong method of performing these simple activities, that is, any method which is not based on exact scientific analysis, wastes the energies of the workingman, and by that the economic means of the farm owner, and indirectly the economic resources of the whole nation. In the Harvard Psychological Laboratory we are at present engaged in the investigation of such an apparently trivial function as sewing by hand. The finger which guides the needle is attached to a system of levers which write an exact graphic record of every stitch on a revolving drum. And the deeper we enter into this study the more we discover that such a movement, of which every seamstress and every girl who makes her clothes feels that she knows everything, contains an abundance of important features of which we do not as yet know anything. With the same scientific exactitude the laboratory must investigate the milking, or the making of butter, the feeding of the cattle and the picking of the fruit, the use of the scythe and the axe, the pruning and the husking. The mere fact that every one, even with the least skill, is able to carry out such movements with some result, does not in the least guarantee that any one carries them out to-day with the best result possible.
The governmental experiment station ought to establish regular psychological laboratories, in which the mental processes involved in the farmer's activity would be examined with the same loyalty to modern science with which the chemical questions of the soil or the biological questions of the parasites are furthered. Only such investigations could give the right cues also to the manufacturers of farming implements. At present the machines are constructed with the single purpose of greatest physical usefulness, and the farmer who uses them has to adjust himself to them. The only human factor which enters into the construction so far has been a certain desire for comfort and ease of handling. But as soon as the mental facts involved are really examined, they ought to become decisive for the details of the machine. The handle which controls the lever, and every other part, must be placed so that the will finds the smallest possible resistance, so that one psychical impulse prepares the way for the next, and then a maximum of activity can be reached with the smallest possible psychophysical energy. Such a psychological department of the agricultural station could be expanded, and study not only the mental conditions of farming, but examine also the psychological factors which belong indirectly to the sphere of agricultural work. It may examine the mental effects which the various products of the farm stir up in the customers. The feelings and emotions, the volitions and ideas which are suggested by the vegetables and fruits, the animals and the flowers, are not without importance for the success in the market. The psychology of colour and taste, of smell and touch and form, may be useful knowledge for the scientific farmer, and even his methods of packing and preparing for the market, of displaying and advertising, may be greatly improved by contact with applied psychology.
At least one of the psychological side problems demands especial attention, the mental life of the animals. Animal psychology is no longer made up of hunting stories and queer observations on ants and wasps, and gossip about pet cats and dogs and canary birds. It has become an exact science, which is housed in the psychological laboratories of the universities. And with this change the centre of interest has shifted, too. The mind of the animals is not studied in order to satisfy our zooelogical interest, but really to serve an understanding of the mental functions. It was therefore appropriate to introduce those methods which had been tested in human psychology. In our Harvard Psychological Laboratory, in which a whole floor of the building is devoted exclusively to animal experiments under specialists, single functions like memory or attention or emotion are tested in earthworms or turtles or pigeons or monkeys, and the results are no less accurate than those of subtlest human work. But this experimental animal psychology has so far served theoretical interests only. It stands where human psychology stood before the contact with pedagogy, medicine, law, commerce, and industry suggested particular formulations of the experiments. Such contact with the needs of practical life ought to be secured now for animal psychology. The farmer who has to do with cows and swine and sheep, with dogs and horses, with chickens and geese, with pigeons and bees, ought to have an immediate interest to seek this contact. But his concern ought to go still further. He has to fight the animals that threaten his harvest.
The farmer himself knows quite well how important the psychical behaviour of the animals is for his success. He knows how the milk of the cows is influenced by emotional excitement, and how the handling of horses demands an understanding of their mental dispositions and temperaments. Sometimes he even works already with primitive psychological methods. He makes use of the mental instinct which draws insects to the light when he attracts the dangerous moths with light at night in order to destroy them. Ultimately all the traps and nets with which the enemies of the crop are caught are schemes for which psychotechnical calculations are decisive. The means for breaking the horses, down to the whip and the spur and the blinders, are after all the tools of applied psychology. The manufacturer is already beginning to supply the farmer with some practical psychology: dogs which despise the ordinary dog biscuits, seem quite satisfied with the same cheap foods when they are manufactured in the form of bones. The dog first plays with them and then eats them. There is no reason why everything should be left to mere tradition and chance in a field in which the methods are sufficiently developed to give exact practical results, as soon as distinct practical questions are raised. There would be no difficulty in measuring the reaction times of the horses in thousandths of a second for optical and acoustical and tactual impressions, or in studying the influence of artificial colour effects on the various insects in the service of agriculture.
Especial importance may be attached to those investigations in animal psychology which trace the inheritance of individual characteristics. The laboratory psychologist studies, for instance, the laws according to which qualities like savageness and tameness are distributed in the succeeding generations. He studies the proportions of those traits in hundreds of mice, which are especially fit for the experiment on account of their quick multiplication. But this may lead immediately to important results for the farmers with reference to mental traits in breeding animals. It would be misleading if it were denied that all this is a programme to-day and not a realization, a promise and not a fulfilment. The field is practically still uncultivated. But in a time in which the nation is anxious to economize the national resources, which were too long wasted, and in which the need of helping the farmer and of intensifying the values of rural life is felt so generally, it would be reckless to ignore a promise the fulfilment of which seems so near. To be sure, the farmers cultivated their fields through thousands of years without chemistry, just as they do their daily work to-day without psychology, but nobody doubts that the introduction of scientific chemistry into farming has brought the most valuable help to the national, and to the world economy. The time seems really ripe for experimental psychology to play the same role for the benefit of mankind, which in the future as in the past will always be prosperous only when the farmer succeeds.
SOCIAL SINS IN ADVERTISING
There is one industry in the world which may be called, more than any other, a socializing factor in our modern life. The industry of advertising binds men together and tightly knits the members of society into one compact mass. Every one in the big market-place of civilization has his demands and has some supply. But in order to link supply and demand, the offering must be known. The industry which overcomes the isolation of man with his wishes and with his wares lays the real foundation of the social structure. It is not surprising that it has taken gigantic dimensions and that uncounted millions are turning the wheels of the advertising factory. The influence and civilizing power of the means of propaganda go far beyond the help in the direct exchange of goods. The advertiser makes the modern newspaper and magazine possible. These mightiest agencies of public opinion and intellectual culture are supported, and their technical perfection secured, by those who pay their business tax in the form of advertisements.
Under these circumstances it would appear natural to have just as much interest and energy and incessant thought devoted to this very great and significant industry as to any branch of manufacturing. But the opposite is true. Armies of engineers and of scientifically trained workers have put half a century of scholarly research and experimental investigation into the perfecting of the physical and chemical industries. The most thorough study is devoted to the raw material and to the machines, to the functions of the workingman and to everything which improves the mechanical output. In striking contrast to this, the gigantic industry of advertising is to-day still controlled essentially by an amateurish impressionism, by a so-called commonsense, which is nothing but the uncritical following of a well-worn path. Surely there is an abundance of clever advertisement writers at work, and great establishments make some careful tests before they throw their millions of circulars before the public. Yet even their so-called tests have in no way scientific character. They are simply based on watching the success in practical life, and the success is gained by instinct. Commonsense tells even the most superficial advertiser that a large announcement will pay more than a small one, an advertisement in a paper with a large circulation more than in a paper with a few subscribers, one with a humorous or emotional or exciting text more than one with a tiresome and stale text. He also knows that the cover page in a magazine is worth more than the inner pages, that a picture draws attention, that a repeated insertion helps better than a lonely one. Yet even a score of such rules would not remove the scheme of advertising from the commonplaces of the trade. They still would not show any trace of the fact that the methods of exact measurement and of laboratory research can be applied to such problems of human society.
Advertising is an appeal to the attention, to the memory, to the feeling, to the impulses of the reader. Every printed line of advertisement is thus a lever which is constructed to put some mental mechanism in motion. The science of the mental machinery is psychology, which works on principles with the exact methods of the experiment. It seems unprogressive, indeed, if just this one industry neglects the help which experimental science may furnish. A few slight beginnings, to be sure, have been made, but not by the men of affairs, whose practical interests are involved. They have been made by psychologists who in these days of carrying psychology into practical life have pushed the laboratory method into the field of advertising.
The beginnings indicated at once that much which is sanctioned by the traditions of economic life will have to be fundamentally revised. Psychologists, for instance, examined the memory value of the different parts of the page. Little booklets were arranged in which words were placed in the four quarter pages. The advertiser is accustomed patiently to pay an equal amount for his quarter page, whether it is on the left half or the right, on the lower or on the upper part of the page. The experiment demonstrated that the words on the upper right-hand quarter had about twice the memory value of those on the lower left. The advertiser who is accustomed to spend for his insertion on the lower left the same sum as for that on the upper right throws half his expenditure away. He reaches only half of the customers, or takes only half a grasp of those whom he reaches. This case, which can be easily demonstrated by careful experiments, is typical of the tremendous waste which goes on in the budget of the advertising community. And yet the advertiser would not like to act like the poet who sings his song not caring whose heart he will stir.
As long as the psychologist is only aware of an inexcusable waste of means by lack of careful research into the psychological reactions of the reader, he may leave the matter to the business circles which have to suffer by their carelessness. But this economic wrong may coincide with cultural values in other fields, and the social significance of the problem may thus become accentuated. A problem of this double import, economic and cultural at the same time, to-day faces publishers, advertisers, and readers. It is of recent origin, but it has grown so rapidly and taken such important dimensions that at present it overshadows all other debatable questions in the realm of propaganda. The movement to which we refer is the innovation of mixing reading matter and advertisements on the same page. In the good old times a monthly magazine like McClure's or the American or the Metropolitan or the Cosmopolitan showed an arrangement which allowed a double interpretation. One interpretation, the idealistic one, was that the magazine consisted of articles and stories in solid unity, which formed the bulk of the issue. In front of this content, and after it, pages with advertisements were attached. The other interpretation, which suggested itself to the less ambitious reader, was that the magazine consisted of a heap of entertaining advertisement pages, between which the reading matter was sandwiched. But in any case there was nowhere mutual interference. The articles stood alone, and the automobiles, crackers, cameras, and other wares stood alone, too. All this has been completely changed in the last two or three years. With a few remarkable exceptions like the Atlantic Monthly, the World's Work, and the Century, the overwhelming majority of the monthly and weekly papers have gone over to a system by which the tail of the stories and articles winds itself through the advertisement pages, and all the advertising sheets are riddled by stray pieces of reading matter. The immediate purpose is of course evident. If the last dramatic part of the story suddenly stops on page 15 and is continued on page 76, between the announcements of breakfast food and a new garter, the publisher, or rather the advertiser, hopes, and the publisher does not dare to contradict, that some of the emotional interest and excitement will flow over from the loving pair to the advertised articles. The innocent reader is skilfully to be guided into the advertiser's paradise.
We claimed that here the economic innovation, whether profitable or not, has its cultural significance. The sociologists who have thought seriously about the American type of civilization have practically agreed in the conviction that the shortcoming of the American mind lies in its lack of desire for harmony and unity. It is an aesthetic deficiency which counts not only where art and artificial beauty are in question, but shows still more in the practical surroundings and the forms of life. The nation which is and always has been controlled by strong idealistic moral impulses takes small care of the aesthetic ideals. The large expenditures for external beautification must not deceive. Just as the theatre is to the American essentially entertainment and amusement and fashion, but least of all a life need for great art, so on the whole background of daily life a thousand motives show themselves more effectively than the longing for inner unity and beautiful fitness. The masses who waste their incomes for beautiful clothes, not because they are beautiful, but because they are demanded by the fashion, patiently tolerate the dirt in the streets, the crowding of cars, the chewing of gum, the vulgar slang in speech, and shirt-sleeve manners. But this undeveloped state of the sense of inner harmony has effects far beyond the mere outer appearances. The hysterical excitement in politics, the traditional indifference to corruption and crime up to the point where they become intolerable, the bewildering mixture of highest desire for education and cheapest faith in superstitions and mysticism and quacks, all must result from a social mind in which the aesthetic demand for harmony and proportion is insufficiently developed. The one great need of the land is a systematic cultivation of this aesthetic spirit of unity. It cannot be forced on the millions by any sudden and radical procedures. The steady, cumulating influences of the whole atmosphere of civic life must lead to a slow but persistent change. Fortunately, many such helpful agencies are at work. Not only the systematic moulding of the child's mind by art instruction, and of the citizen's mind by beautiful public buildings, but a thousand features of the day aid in bringing charm and melody to the average man.
Seen from this point of view the new fashion in the makeup of the periodical literature is a barbaric and inexcusable interference with the process of aesthetic education. A page on which advertisements and reading matter are mixed is a mess which irritates and hurts a mind of fine aesthetic sensitiveness, but which in the uncultivated mind must ruin any budding desire for subtler harmony. The noises of the street, with all the whistles of the factories and the horns of the motor cars, are bad enough, and the antinoise crusade is quite in order. Yet the destructive influence of those chaotic sounds is far weaker than the shrillness and restlessness of these modern specimens of so-called literature. The mind is tossed up and down and is torn hither and thither, following now a column of text while the advertisements are pushing in from both sides, and then reading the latest advertisement while the serious text is drawing the attention. It is the quantity which counts. The popular magazines which circulate in a million copies and reach two or three million minds are the loudest preachers of this sermon of bewilderment and scramble. A consciousness on which these tumultuous pages hammer day by day must lose the subtler sense of proportionate harmony and must develop an instinctive desire for harshness and crudeness and chaos. To overcome this riot of the printing press is thus a truly cultural task, and yet it is evident that the mere appeal to the cultural instinct will not change anything as long as the publisher and, above all, the advertiser, are convinced that they would have to sacrifice their personal profit in the interest of aesthetic education. If an end is to be hoped for, it can be expected only if it is discovered that the calculation of profit is erroneous, too. But this is after all a question of naked facts, and only the scientific examination can decide.
The problem might be approached from various sides. It was only meant as a first effort when I carried on the following experiment: I had a portfolio with twenty-four large bristol-board cards of the size of the Saturday Evening Post. On eight of those cards I had pasted four different advertisements, each filling a fourth of a page. On some pages every one of the four advertisements took one of four whole columns; in other cases the page was divided into an upper and lower, right and left part. All the advertisements were cut from magazines, and in all the name of the firm and the object to be sold could be easily recognized. On the sixteen other pages the arrangement was different. There only two fourths of the page were filled by two advertisements; the other two fourths contained funny pictures with a few words below. These pictures were cut from comic papers. All the pictures were of such a kind that they slightly attracted the attention by their amusing content or by the cleverness of the drawing, but never demanded any careful inspection or any delay by the reading of the text. This, in most cases, consisted of a few title words like "The Widow's Might," "Pause, father, is that whip sterilized?" or similar easily grasped descriptions of the story in the picture. Even where the text took two lines, it was more easy to apperceive the picture and its description than the essentials of the often rather chaotic advertisements. By this arrangement we evidently had thirty-two advertisements on the eight pages which contained nothing else, and thirty-two other advertisements on the sixteen pages which contained half propaganda and half pictures with text. All this material was used as a basis for the following test, in which forty-seven adult persons participated. All were members of advanced psychological courses, partly men, partly women. None of those engaged in the experiment knew anything about the purpose beforehand. Thus they had no theories, and I carefully avoided any suggestion which might have drawn the attention in one or another direction.
Every one had to go through those twenty-four pages in twelve minutes, devoting exactly thirty seconds to every page, and a signal marked the time when he had to pass to the next. He was to give his attention to the whole content of the page, and as both the pictures and the advertisements were chosen with reference to their being easily understood and quickly grasped, an average time of more than seven seconds for each of the four offerings on the page was ample, even for the slow reader. Of course the time would not have been sufficient to read every detail in the advertisements, but no one had any interest in doing so, as they were instructed beforehand to keep in mind essentially the advertised article and the firm, and in the case of the pictures a general impression of the idea.
As soon as the twenty-four pages had been seen, every one was asked to write down the ideas of five of the funny pictures within three minutes. The results of this were of no consequence, as the purpose was only to fill the interval of the three minutes in order that all the memory pictures of the advertisements might settle down in the mind and that all might have an equal chance If we had turned immediately to the writing down of firms and articles, the last ones seen would have had an undue advantage. But when the three minutes had been filled with an effort to remember some of the funny pictures and to write down their salient points, all the mental after-images of the pages had faded away, and a true memory picture was to be produced. In the presentation care was taken to have the twenty-four pages follow in irregular order, the pages of straight advertising mixed with those of the double content. After the three minutes every one had to write down as many names of firms with the articles as his memory could reproduce. The time was now unlimited. Nothing else was to be added; the reference to the particular advertisement was entirely confined to the firm and the object. Where they knew the firm name without the object, or the article without the advertiser, they had to make a dash to indicate the omission. The aim was to discover whether the thirty-two advertisements on the mixed pages had equal chances in the mind with the thirty-two on the straight advertisement pages. In order to have an exact basis of comparison, we counted every name 1, and every article 1. Thus when firm and object were correctly given it was counted 2.
Of course there were very great individual differences. It is evident that a person who would have remembered all the sixty-four advertisements on this basis of calculation would have made 128 points. The maximum which was actually made was in the case of two women, each of whom reached 50 points. One man reached 49. The lowest limit was touched in the exceptional case of one woman who made only 11 points. The average was 28.4. These figures seem small, considering that less than a fourth were kept in mind, and even by the best memory less than a half, but it must be considered that in the modern style of advertisement the memory is burdened with many side features of the announcement, and that the result is therefore smaller than if name and article had been memorized in an isolated form. But these figures have no relation to our real problem. We wanted to compare the memory fate of the advertisements on the one kind of pages with that of the parallel advertisements on the other kind. As soon as we separate the two kinds of reproduced material we find as total result that the forty-seven persons summed up 570 points for the advertisements on pages with comic pictures, but 771 for the advertisements on pages which contained nothing else. The average individual thus remembered about six whole advertisements out of the thirty-two on the combined pages, and about eight and a fifth of the thirty-two on the straight pages. Among the forty-seven persons, there were thirty-six who remembered the straight-page notices distinctly better than the mixed-page advertisements, and only eleven of the forty-seven showed a slight advantage in favour of the mixed pages. In the case of the men this difference is distinctly greater than in the case of the women. Only two of the fifteen men who participated showed better reproducing power for the mixed material, while nine of the thirty-two women favoured it. As the advertiser is not interested in the chance variations and exceptional cases among the reading public, but naturally must rely on the averages, the results show clearly that the propaganda made on pages which do not contain anything but advertisements has more than a third greater chances, as the relation was that of 6 to 8.2.
The result is hardly surprising. We recognized that the conditions for the apprehension of the special advertisements are in themselves equally favourable for both groups. As the pictures were very easily grasped, it may even be said that there was more time left for the study of the advertisements on the mixed pages, and yet the experiment showed that they had a distinct disadvantage. The self-observation of the experimenters leaves hardly any doubt that the cause for this lies in the different attitude which the mixed pages demand from the reader. The mental setting with which those pictures or the written matter is observed, is fundamentally different from that which those propaganda notices demand. If the mind is adjusted to the pleasure of reading for its information and enjoyment, it is not prepared for the fullest apprehension of an advertisement as such. The attention for the notice on the same page remains shallow as long as the entirely different kind of text reaches the side parts of the eye. On those pages, on the other hand, which contain announcements only, a uniform setting of the mind prepared the way for their fullest effectiveness. The average reader who glances over the pages of the magazines is not clearly aware of these psychological conditions, and yet that feeling of irritation which results from the mixing of reading matter and propaganda on the same page is a clear symptom of this mental reaction. The mere fact that both the advertisements and stories or anecdotes or pictures are seen in black and white by the retina of the eye, and are in the same way producing the ideas of words and forms in the mind, does not involve the real psychological effect being the same. The identical words read as a matter of information in an instructive text, and read as an argument to the customer in a piece of propaganda, set entirely different mental mechanisms in motion. The picture of a girl seen with the understanding that it is the actress of the latest success, or seen with the understanding that it is an advertisement for a toilet preparation, starts in the whole psychophysical system different kinds of activities, which mutually inhibit each other. If we anticipate the one form of inner reaction, we make ourselves unfit for the opposite.
An interesting light falls on the situation from experiments which have recently been carried on by a Swedish psychologist. He showed that in every learning process the intention with which we absorb the memory material is decisive for the firmness with which it sticks to our mind. If a boy learns one group of names or figures or verses with the intention to keep them in mind forever, and learns another group of the same kind of material with the same effort and by the same method, but with the intention to have them present for a certain test the next day, the mental effect is very different. Immediately after the learning, or on the morning of the next day, he has both groups equally firmly in his mind, but three days later most of what was learned to be kept is still present. On the other hand, those verses and dates which were learned with the consciousness that they had to serve the next day have essentially faded away when the time of the test has passed, even if the test itself was not given. Every lawyer knows from his experience how easily he forgets the details of the case which has once been settled by the court, as he has absorbed the material only for the purpose of having it present up to the end of the procedure. These Swedish experiments have given a cue to further investigations, and everything seems to confirm this view. It brings out in a very significant way that the impressions which are made on our mind from without are in their effectiveness on the mind entirely dependent upon the subjective attitude, and the idea that the same visual stimuli stir up the same mental reactions is entirely misleading. The attitude of reading and the attitude of looking at advertisements are so fundamentally different that the whole mental mechanism is in a different setting.
The result is that whenever we are in the reading attitude, we cannot take the real advertising effect out of the pictures and notices which are to draw us to the consumption of special articles. The editor who forces his wisdom into the propaganda page is hurting the advertiser, who, after all, pays for nothing else but the opportunity to make a certain psychological impression on the reader. He gets a third more of this effect for which he has to pay so highly if he can have his advertisement on a clean sheet which brings the whole mind into that willing attitude to receive suggestions for buying only. It is most probable that the particular form of the experiment here reported makes this difference between advertising pages with and without reading matter much smaller than it is in the actual perusal of magazines, as we forced the attention of the individual on every page for an equal time. In the leisurely method of going through the magazine the interfering effect of the editorial part would be still greater. Compared with this antagonism of mental setting, it means rather little that these scattered pieces of text induce the reader to open the advertisement. If we were really of that austere intellect which consistently sticks to that which is editorially backed, we should ignore the advertisements, even if they were crowded into the same page. They might reach our eye, but they would not touch our mind. Yet there is hardly any fear that the average American reader will indulge in such severity of taste. He is quite willing to yield to the temptation of the advertising gossip with its minimum requirement of intellectual energy for its consumption. He will therefore just as readily turn from the articles to the advertisements if they are separated into two distinct parts. Frequent observations in the Pullman cars suggested to me rather early the belief that these advertisement parts in the front and the rear of the magazine were the preferred regions between the two covers.
Just as the great public habitually prefers the light comedy and operetta to the theatre performances of high aesthetic intent, it moves instinctively to those printed pages on which a slight appeal to the imagination is made without any claim on serious thought. It is indeed a pleasant tickling of the imagination, this leisurely enjoyment of looking over all those picturesque announcements; it is like passing along the street with its shopwindows in all their lustre and glamour. But this soft and inane pleasure has been crushed by the arrangement after to-day's fashion. Those pages on which advertising and articles are mixed helterskelter do not allow the undisturbed mood. It is as if we constantly had to alternate between lazy strolling and energetic running. Thus the chances are that the old attractiveness of the traditional advertising part has disappeared. While those broken ends of the articles may lead the reader unwillingly to the advertisement pages, he will no longer feel tempted by his own instincts to seek those regions of restlessness; and if he is of more subtle sensitiveness, the irritation may take the stronger form, and he may throw away the whole magazine, advertisement and text together. The final outcome, then, must be disadvantageous to publisher and advertiser alike. The publisher and the editor have certainly never yielded to this craving of the advertiser for a place on the reading page without a feeling of revolt. Commercialism has forced them to submit and to make their orderly issues places of disorder and chaos. The advertisers have rushed into this scheme without a suspicion that it is a trap. The experiments have proved that they are simply injuring themselves. As soon as this is widely recognized, a countermovement ought to start. We ought again to have the treasures of our magazines divided into a straight editorial and a clean advertisement part. The advertisers will profit from it in dollars and cents through the much greater psychological effectiveness of their announcements, the editors will be the gainers by being able to present a harmonious, sympathetic, restful magazine, and the great public will be blessed by the removal of one of the most malicious nerve irritants and persistent destroyers of mental unity.
THE MIND OF THE INVESTOR
The psychologist who tries to disentangle the interplay of human motives finds hardly a problem for his art to solve when he approaches the conscientious investor. His work has brought him savings, and his savings are to work for him. Hence they must not lie idle, and in the complicated market, with its chaotic offerings, he knows what he has to do. He seeks the advice of the expert, and under this guidance, he buys that which combines great safety with a fair income. The intellectual and emotional processes which here take control of the will and of the decision are perfectly clear and simple, and the mental analysis offers not the least difficulty. The fundamental instincts of man on the background of modern economic conditions must lead to such rational and recommendable behaviour. A psychological problem appears only when such a course of wisdom is abandoned, and either the savings are hidden away instead of being made productive, or are thrown away in wildcat schemes. Yet of the two extremes the first again is easily understood. A hysteric fear of possible loss, an unreasonable distrust of banks and bankers, keeps the overcautious away from the market. But while such a state of mind is said to be frequent in countries in which the economic life is disorderly, enterprising Americans seldom suffer from this ailment, and even the theoretical doctrine that it is sinful to have capital working seems not to have affected practically those who have the capital at their disposal. The specific American case is the opposite one, and with regard to those reckless investors it seems less clear what psychological conditions lie at the bottom of their rashness.
Foreign visitors have indeed often noticed with surprise that the American public, in spite of its cleverness and its practical trend and its commercial instinct, is more ready to throw its money into speculative abysses than the people of other lands. What is the reason? Those observers from abroad are usually satisfied with the natural answer that the Americans are gamblers, or that they have an indomitable desire for capturing money without working. But the students of comparative sociology cannot forget the fact that many national institutions and customs of other lands suggest that the blame might with much more justice be directed against the other party. America prohibits lotteries, while lotteries are flourishing on the European continent. The Austrians, Italians, and Spaniards are slaves to lotteries, and even in sober Germany the state carries on a big lottery enterprise. President Eliot once said in a speech about the moral progress of mankind that a hundred years ago a public lottery was allowed in Boston for the purpose of getting the funds for erecting a new Harvard dormitory, and he added that such a procedure would be unthinkable in New England in our more enlightened days. Yet in the most civilized European countries, whenever a cathedral is to be built, or an exhibition to be supported, the state gladly sanctions big lottery schemes to secure the financial means. The European governments argue that a certain amount of gambling instinct is ingrained in human character, and that it is wiser to create a kind of official outlet by which it is held within narrow limits, and by which the results yielded are used for the public good.
This may be a right or a wrong policy, but in any case, it shows that the desire for gambling is no less marked on the other side of the ocean. In the same way, while private bookmakers are not allowed at most European races, the official "totalisators" offer to the gamblers the same outlets. Every tourist remembers from the European casinos in the summer resorts the famous game with the little horses, a miniature Monaco scheme. And in the privacy of the too often not very private clubs extremely neat card games are in order which depend still more upon chance than the American poker. Moreover, the Europeans have not even the right to say that American life indicates a desire for harvest without ploughing. Every observer of European life knows to what a high degree the young Frenchman or Austrian, Italian, German, or Russian approaches married life with an eye on the dowry. Hundreds of thousands consider it as their chief chance to come to ease and comfort. The whole temper of the nations is adjusted to this idea, which is essentially lacking in American society. It is evident that no method of getting rich quick is more direct, and from a higher point of view more immoral, if taken as a motive for the choice of a mate, than this plan which Europe welcomes. The same difference shows itself in smaller traits. Europe invented the tipping system, which also means that money is expected without an equivalent in labour. Tipping is essentially strange to the American character, however rapid its progress has been on the Atlantic seaboard.
Of course it would be absurd to ignore the existence and even the prevalence of similar attitudes in America. If the dowry does not exist, not every man marries without a thought of the rich father-in-law. Forbidden gambling houses are abundant, private betting connected with sport is flourishing everywhere; above all, the economic organization admits through a back-door what is banished from the main entrance, by allowing stocks to be issued for very small amounts. In Germany the state does not permit stocks smaller than one thousand marks, equal to two hundred and fifty dollars, with the very purpose of making speculative stock buying impossible for the man of small means. The waiter and the barber who here may buy very small blocks of ten-dollar stocks have no such chance there. Stock buying is thus confined to those circles from which a certain wider outlook may be expected. The external framework of the stock market is here far more likely to tempt the man of small savings into the game, and the mere fact that this form has been demanded by public consciousness suggests that the spirit which craves lotteries is surely not absent in the new world, even though the lottery lists in the European newspapers are blackened over before they are laid out in the American public libraries. A certain desire for gambling and quick returns evidently exists the world over. But if the Americans are really speculating more than all the other nations, a number of other mental features must contribute to the outcome.
One tendency stands quite near to gambling, and yet is characteristically different, the delight in running risks, the joy in playing with dangers. Some races, in which the gambling instinct is strong, are yet afraid of high risks, and the pleasure in seeking dangerous situations may prevail without any longing for the rewards of the gambler. It seems doubtful whether this adventurous longing for unusual risks belongs to the Anglo-Saxon mind. At least those vocations which most often involve such a mental trend are much more favoured by the Irish. It is claimed that they, for instance, are prominent among the railroad men, and that the excessive number of accidents in the railroad service results from just this reckless disposition of the Irishmen. It tempts them to escape injury and death only by a hair. Where this desire to feel the nearness of danger, yet in the hope of escaping it, meets the craving for the excitement of possible gain, a hazardous investment of one's savings must be expected.
Yet it would be very one-sided and misleading if this group of emotional features were alone made responsible for the lamentable recklessness in the market. We must first of all necessarily acknowledge the tremendous powers of suggestion which the whole American life and especially the stock market contains. The word suggestion has become rather colourless in popular language, but for the psychologist, it has a very definite meaning. Suggestion is always a proposition for action, which is forced on the mind in such a way that the impulse to opposite action becomes inhibited. Under ordinary circumstances, when a proposition is made to do a certain thing through the mechanism of the mind, the idea of the opposite action may arise. If some one tells the normal man to go and do this or that, he will at once think of the consequences, and in his mind perhaps the idea awakes of the dangerousness or of the foolishness, of the immorality or of the uselessness of such a deed, and any one of these ideas would be a sufficient motive for ignoring the proposed line of behaviour and for suppressing the desire to follow the poor advice. But often this normal appearance of the opposite ideas fails. If they arise at all, they are too faint or too powerless to offer resistance, and often they may not even enter consciousness. They remain suppressed, and the result is that the idea of action finds its way unhindered, and breaks out into the deed which normally would have been checked. If this is the case, the psychologist says that the mind was in a state of increased suggestibility.
The degree of suggestibility, that is of willingness to yield to such propositions for action and of inability to resist them, is indeed different from man to man. We all know the stubborn persons who are always inclined to resist whatever is proposed to them and who do not believe what is told them, and we know the credulous ones who believe everything that they see printed. But the degree of suggestibility changes no less from hour to hour with the individual. In a state of fatigue or under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of strong emotions, in hope and fear, the suggestibility is reenforced. The highest degree of suggestibility is that mental state which we call hypnotism, in which the power to resist the proposed idea of action is reduced to a minimum. But the chief factor in making us suggestible is the method by which the idea of action is proposed, and in psychology we speak of suggestion whenever an action is proposed by methods which make the mind yielding. It certainly is not objectionable to exert suggestive influence. Suggestions are the leading factors in education, in art, and in religion. The authoritative voice with which the teacher proposes the right thing has a most valuable suggestive power to suppress in the child the opposite misleading impulse. But surely suggestions can become dangerous and destructive. If actions are proposed in a form which paralyzes the power to become conscious of the opposite impulses, the voice of reason and of conscience is silenced, and social and moral ruin must be the result.
Everybody at once thinks of the endless variety of advertisements. An announcement which merely gives information is of course no suggestion. But if perhaps such an announcement takes the form of an imperative, an element of suggestion creeps in. To be sure we are accustomed to this trivial pattern, and no one completely loses his power to resist if the proposition to buy comes in the grammatical form of a command. If we had reached the highest degree of suggestibility, as in hypnotism, we could not read "Cook with gas" without at once putting a gas stove into our kitchen. Yet even such a mild suggestion has its influence and tends slightly to weaken the arguments which would lead to an opposite action. The advertisements, however, which the brokers send to our house and which are spread broadcast in the homes of the country to people who have no technical knowledge of stock-buying are surely not confined to such child-like and bland forms of suggestion. The whole grouping of figures, the distribution of black and white in the picture of the market situation, the glowing story of the probable successes with the bewildering hints of special privileges, must increase the suggestibility of the untrained mind and reenforce powerfully the suggestive energy of the proposition to buy. The whole technique of this procedure has nowhere been brought to such virtuosity as in our country. The fact which we mentioned, that the new industrial and mining enterprises can offer shares small enough to be accessible to the man without means, has evidently been the chief reason for developing a style of appeal which would be unthinkable in the countries where the investors are essentially experienced business men.
But the skill of the prospectus with its sometimes half fraudulent features would, after all, not gain such influence if suggestion were not produced from another side as well, namely, through the instinct of imitation. The habit of making risky investments is so extremely widespread that the individual buyer does not feel himself isolated, and therefore dependent upon his own judgments and deliberations. He feels himself as a member of a class, and the class easily becomes a crowd, even a mob, a mob in which the logic of any mob reigns, and that is the logic of doing unthinkingly what others do. It is well known that every member of a crowd stands intellectually and morally on a lower level than he would stand if left to his spontaneous impulses and his own reflections. The crowd may fall into a panic and rush blindly in any direction into which any one may have happened to start and no one thinks about it, or it may go into exaltation and exuberantly do what no one alone would dare to risk. This mass consciousness is also surely a form of increased suggestibility. The individual feels his own responsibility reduced because he relies instinctively on the judgment of his neighbours, and with this decreased responsibility the energy for resistance to dangerous propositions disappears. Men buy their stocks because others are doing it.
But finally, may we not call it suggestion, too, if the individual even tremblingly accepts the risks of perilous deals, because he feels obliged to grasp for an unusually high income in order to live up to the style of his set? Of course there is no objective standard of living if we abstract from that where the income simply secures the needs of bare existence. Above that, everything depends upon the habits of those around us. If the community steadily screws up these habits, makes life ostentatious for those of moderate means as well as for the rich, hysterically emphasizes the material values, the will to be satisfied with the income of safe investments has to fight against tremendous odds. The truly strong mind will keep its power to resist, but the slightly weak mind will find the suggestion of the surrounding life more powerful than the fear of possible loss. If all the neighbours in the village have automobiles, the man who would enjoy a quiet book and a pleasant walk much more than a showy ride will yield, and spend a thousand dollars for his motor car where fifty dollars for books would have brought him far more intense satisfaction. In no country have fashion and ostentatiousness taken such strong possession of the masses, and the willingness to be satisfied with a moderate income is therefore nowhere so little at home.
Yet neither gambling and taking risks, nor suggestibility and imitation, are the whole of the story. We must not forget the superficiality of thinking, the uncritical, loose, and flabby use of the reasoning power which shows itself in so many spheres of American mass life. It is sufficient to see the triviality of argument and the cheapness of thought in those newspapers which seek and enjoy the widest circulation. It is difficult not to believe that fundamentally sins of education are to blame for it. The school may bring much to the children, but no mere information can be a substitute for a training in thorough thinking. Here lies the greatest defect of our average schools. The looseness of the spelling and figuring draws its consequences. Whoever becomes accustomed to inaccuracy in the elements remains inaccurate in his thinking his life long. If the American public loses a hundred million dollars a year by investments in worthless undertakings, surely not the smallest cause is the lack of concise reasoning. Wrong analogies control the thought of the masses. Any copper stock must be worth buying because the stock of Calumet-Hecla multiplied its value a hundredfold. But the irony of the situation lies in the fact that, as experience shows, those who are the clearest thinkers in their own fields are in the realm of investments as easily trapped as the most superficial reasoners. It is well known that college professors, school teachers, and ministers figure prominently on the mailing lists of unscrupulous brokers, and their hard-earned savings are especially often given for stocks which soon are not worth the paper on which they are printed. Sometimes, to be sure, this unpractical behaviour of the idealists really results from an unreasonable indifference to commercial questions. The true scholar, whose life is tuned to the conviction that he has more important things to do in the world than to make money, readily falls into a mood of carelessness with regard to the money which he does chance to make. In this state of indifference he follows any advice and may easily be misled.
But it seems probable that the more frequent case is the opposite one. Just because the teacher and the pastor have small chance to save anything, they give their fullest thought to the question how to multiply their earnings, and their mistake springs rather from their ignorance of the actual conditions. They think that they can figure it out by mere logic and overlook the hard realities. They resemble another group of victims who can be found in the midst of commercial life, the over-clever people who rely on especially artificial arguments. They feel sure that they see some points which no one else has discovered, and while they may have noticed some small reasonable points, they overlook important conditions which the simpler-minded would have seen. They know everything better than their neighbours, and whatever their friends buy or sell they at once have a brilliant argument to prove that the step was wrong. They generally forget that the listener must be suspicious of their wisdom, as they themselves have never earned the fruit of their apparent wisdom. They all, however, may find comfort in the well-known fact that hardly any great financier has died, not even a Harriman or a Morgan, without there being found in his possession large quantities of worthless stocks and bonds. But the variety of intellectual types, the careless and the uncritical, the over-clever and the illogical thinkers, could easily protect themselves against the dangers of the shortcomings in their mental mechanism if their minds had not another trait, which, too, is more frequent in America than anywhere else in the world—the lack of respect for the expert.
The average American is his own expert in every field. This is certainly not a reproach. It supplies American public life with an immense amount of energy and readiness to help. Above all, historically, it was the necessary outcome of the political democracy. In striking contrast to the European bureaucracy, any citizen could at any time be called to be postmaster or mayor or governor or member of the cabinet. A true American would find his way, however complex the work before him. That was, and is, splendid. Yet the development of the recent decades has clearly shown that the danger of this mental attitude after all appears to the newer American generation alarmingly great in many fields. Civil service has steadily grown, the influence of the engineer and the expert in every technical and practical field has more and more taken control of American life, because the go-as-you-please methods of the amateur have shown increasingly their ineffectiveness. Education has slowly been removed from the dilettantic, unprepared school boards. The reign of the expert in public life seems to have begun. But in private life such an attitude is still a part of the mental equipment of millions. They ignore the physician and cure themselves with patent medicines or mental healing: they ignore the banker and broker and make their investments in accordance with their own amateurish inspiration. They pick up a few data, ask a few friends who are as little informed as themselves, but do not think of asking the only group of men who make a serious, persistent study of the market their lifework.
They call this independence, and it cannot be denied that some features of our home and school education may have fostered this tendency not to submit to the judgment of those who know better. They have grown up in schools in which the kindergarten method never stopped, in which they were permitted to select the studies which they liked, and to learn just what pleased them; they were brought up in homes in which they were begged and persuaded, but never forced to do the unwelcome; in short, they have never learned to submit their will to authority. It cannot be surprising that they fancy that it is the right kind of mental setting to feel one's self the ultimate authority in every field, and it would be harmless indeed if the patent medicines would really cure as well as the prescriptions of the physician, and if the wildcat schemes would really yield the same safe income as those investments recommended by the reliable banker. It is then, after all, no chance that this commercially clever American nation wastes more in anti-economic fancies than any other people on the globe. It is the outcome of psychological traits which are rooted in significant conditions of our educational and social life. Yet as soon as these connections are recognized and these reasons for waste are understood, it ought not to be difficult fundamentally to change all this and to make the savings of the nation everywhere really sources of national income.
SOCIETY AND THE DANCE
The story of the dance is the history of human civilization, of its progress and regress. To be sure, as the human mind remains ultimately the same, mankind has often unintentionally returned again to the old forms. The pirouette, which the artists of the ballet invented a hundred years ago, and which was applauded as the wonder of its time, as we now know, was danced by old Egyptians. Not seldom the same outer forms referred to very different mental motives. We learn that many people danced half naked as an expression of humility. Who would claim that the lack of costume in the ballet of to-day is a symbol of humility, too? Moreover, the right perspective can hardly be gained as long as we take the narrow view and think only of those few forms of dance which we saw yesterday in the ballroom and the day before yesterday on the stage of the theatre. The dance has not meant to mankind only social pleasure and artistic spectacle, it originally accompanied the social life and surrounded the individual in every important function.
Dancing certainly began as a religious cult. It was the form in which every increase of emotion expressed itself, grief as well as joy, awe as much as enthusiasm. The primitive peoples danced and in many places still dance when the seasons change or when the fields are to be cultivated, when they start on the hunt or go to war, when health is asked for the sick, and when the gods are to be called upon. The Iroquois Indians have thirty-two chief types of dances, and even among civilized nations, for instance the Bohemians, a hundred and thirty-six dances may be discriminated. Moreover, at first, the dance is really one with the song; music and dancing were only slowly torn asunder. And if we look over the whole world of dance, it almost appears as if what is left to us is after all merely a poor remnant. Yet in these very days much seems to suggest that the dance is to come to its own again. At least, he who observes the life along Broadway may indeed suspect that dancing is now to be intertwined again with every business of life, and surely with every meal of life. No longer can any hostelry in New York be found without dancing, and wider still than the dance sweeps the discussion about it. The dance seems once more the centre of public interest; it is cultivated from luncheon to breakfast; it is debated in every newspaper and every pulpit.
But is not all this merely a new demonstration that the story of the dance is the story of civilization? Can we deny that this recent craze which, like a dancing mania, has whirled over the country, is a significant expression of deep cultural changes which have come to America? Only ten years ago such a dancing fever would have been impossible. People danced, but they did not take it seriously. It was set off from life and not allowed to penetrate it. It had still essentially the role which belonged to it in a puritanic, hardworking society. But the last decade has rapidly swept away that New England temper which was so averse to the sensuous enjoyment of life, and which long kept an invisible control over the spirit of the whole nation. Symptoms of the change abound: how it came about is another question. Certainly the increase and the wide distribution of wealth with its comforts and luxuries were responsible, as well as the practical completion of the pioneer days of the people, the rich blossoming of science and art, and above all the tremendous influx of warm-blooded, sensual peoples who came in millions from southern and eastern Europe, and who altered the tendencies of the cool-blooded, Teutonic races in the land. They have changed the old American Sunday, they have revolutionized the inner life, they have brought the operas to every large city, and the kinometograph to every village, and have at last played the music to a nation-wide dance. Yet the problem which faces every one is not how this dancing craze arose, but rather where it may lead, how far it is healthy and how far unsound, how far we ought to yield to it or further it, and how far we ought to resist. To answer this question, it is not enough to watch the outside spectacle, but we must inquire into the mental motives and mental consequences. Exactly this is our true problem.
Let us first examine the psychological debit account. No one can doubt that true dangers are near wherever the dancing habit is prominent. The dance is a bodily movement which aims at no practical purpose and is thus not bound by outer necessities. It is simply self-expression: and this gives to the dancing impulse the liberty which easily becomes licentiousness. Two mental conditions help in that direction; the mere movement as such produces increased excitement, and the excitement reenforces the movement, and so the dance has in itself the tendency to become quicker and wilder and more and more unrestrained. When gay Vienna began its waltzing craze in the last century, it waltzed to the charming melodies of Lanner in a rhythm which did not demand more than about one hundred and sixty movements in a minute; but soon came Johann Strauss the father, and the average waltzing rhythm was two hundred and thirty a minute, and finally the king of the waltz, Johann Strauss the younger, and Vienna danced at the rhythm of three hundred movements. But another mental effect is still more significant than the impulse to increase rapidity. The uniformity of the movements, and especially of the revolving movement, produces a state of half dizziness and half numbness with ecstatic elements. We know the almost hypnotic state of the whirling dervishes and the raptures in the savage war dances; all this in milder form is involved in every passionate dance. But nothing is more characteristic of such half-hypnotic states than that the individual loses control of his will. He behaves like a drunken man who becomes the slave of his excitement and of every suggestion from without. No doubt many seek the dancing excitement as a kind of substitute for the alcoholic exaltation.
The social injury which must be feared if the social community indulges in such habits of undisciplined, passionate expression needs no explaining. The mind is a unit: it cannot be without self-control in one department and under the desirable self-discipline of the will in another. A period in which the mad rush of dancing stirs social life must be unfavourable to the development of thorough training and earnest endeavour. The fate of imperial Rome ought to be the eternal warning to imperial Manhattan. Italy, like America, took its art and science from over the sea, but gave to them abundant wealth. Instead of true art, it cultivated the virtuosi, and in Rome, which paid three thousand dancers, the dance was its glory until it began ingloriously to sink.
Not without inner relation to the inebriety, and yet distinctly different, is the erotic character of the dance. Lovemaking is the most central, underlying motive of all the mimic dances all over the globe. Among many primitive peoples the dance is a real pantomimic presentation of the whole story from the first tender awaking of a sweet desire through the warmer and warmer courtship to the raptures of sensual delight. Civilized society has more or less covered the naked passion, but from the graceful play of the minuet to the graceless movements of the turkey trot the sensual, not to say the sexual, element can easily be recognized by the sociologist. Here again cause and effect move in a circle. Love excitement expresses itself in dance, and the dance heightens the love excitement. This erotic appeal to the senses is the chief reason why the church has generally taken a hostile attitude. For a long while the dance was denounced as irreligious and sinful on account of Salome's blasphemous dancing. Certainly the rigid guardians of morality always look askance on the contact of the sexes in the ballroom. To be sure, the standards are relative. What appeared to one period the climax of immorality may be considered quite natural and harmless in another. In earlier centuries it was quite usual in the best society for the young man to invite the girl to a dance by a kiss, and in some times it was the polite thing for the gentleman after the dance to sit in the lap of the girl. The shifting of opinion comes to most striking expression, if we compare our present day acquiescence to the waltz with the moral indignation of our great-grandmothers. No accusers of the tango to-day can find more heated words against this Argentine importation than the conservatives of a hundred years ago chose in their hatred of the waltz. Good society had confined its dancing to those forms of contact in which only the hands touched each other, leaving to the peasants the crude, rustic forms, and now suddenly every mother has to see her daughter clasped about the waist by any strange man. Even the dancing masters cried out against the intruder and claimed that it was illogical for a man to be allowed to press a girl to his bosom at the sound of music, while no one would dare to do it between the dances.
Thus the immorality of our most recent dances may be hardly worse than the dancing surprises of earlier fashions, but who will doubt that these sensual elements of the new social gayeties are to-day especially dangerous? The whole American atmosphere is filled with erotic thought to a degree which has been unknown throughout the history of the republic. The newspapers are filled with intra- and extra-matrimonial scandals, the playhouses commercialize the sexual instinct in lurid melodramas, sex problems are the centre of public discussion, all the old barriers which the traditional policy of silence had erected are being broken down, the whole nation is gossiping about erotics. In such inflammable surroundings where the sparks of the dance are recklessly kindled, the danger is imminent. If a nation focuses its attention on sensuality, its virile energy must naturally suffer. There is a well-known antagonism between sex and sport. Perhaps the very best which may be said about sport is that it keeps boyhood away from the swamps of sexuality. The dance keeps boyhood away from the martial field of athletics.
The dance has still another psychological effect which must not be disregarded from a social point of view. It awakes to an unusual degree the impulse to imitation. The seeing of rhythmic movements starts similar motor impulses in the mind of the onlooker. It is well known that from the eleventh to the sixteenth century Europe suffered from dancing epidemics. They started from pathological cases of St. Vitus' dance and released in the excitable crowds cramplike impulses to imitative movements. But we hear the same story of instinctive imitations on occasions of less tragic character. It is reported that in the eighteenth century papal Rome was indignant over the passionate Spanish fandango. It was decided solemnly to put this wild dance under the ban. The lights of the church were assembled for the formal judgment, when it was proposed to call a pair of Spanish dancers in order that every one of the priests might form his own idea of the unholy dance. But history tells that the effect was an unexpected one. After a short time of fandango demonstration the high clerics began involuntarily to imitate the movements, and the more passionately the Spaniards indulged in their native whirl, the more the whole court was transformed into one great dancing party. Even the Italian tarantella probably began as a disease with nervous dancing movements, and then spread over the land through mere imitation which led to an ecstatic turning around and around. Whoever studies the adventures of American dancing during the last season from New York to San Francisco must be impressed by this contagious character of our dancing habits. But this means that the movement carries in itself the energy to spread farther and farther, and to fill the daily life with increased longing for the ragtime. We are already accustomed to the dance at the afternoon tea; how long will it take before we are threatened by the dance at the breakfast coffee?
We have spoken of three mental effects: the license, the eroticism, and the imitativeness which are stirred up by the dancing movements. But in the perspective of history we ought not to overlook another significant trait: the overemphasis on dancing has usually characterized a period of political reaction, of indifference to public life, of social stagnation and carelessness. When the volcanoes were rumbling, the masses were always dancing. At all times when tyrants wanted to divert the attention of the crowd, they gave the dances to their people. A nation which dances cannot think, but lives from hour to hour. The less political maturity, the more happiness does a national community show in its dancing pleasures. The Spaniards and the Polish, the Hungarians and the Bohemians, have always been the great dancers—the Gypsies dance. There is no fear that the New Yorkers will suddenly stop reading their newspapers and voting at the primaries; they will not become Spaniards. But an element of this psychological effect of carelessness and recklessness and stagnation may influence them after all, and may shade the papers which they read, and even the primaries at which they do vote.
Yet how one-sided would it be, if we gave attention only to the dangers which the dance may bring to a nation's mind. The credit account of the social dance is certainly not insignificant, and perhaps momentous just for the Americans of to-day. The dance is a wonderful discharge of stirred up energy; its rhythmic form relieves the tension of the motor apparatus and produces a feeling of personal comfort. The power to do this is a valuable asset, when so much emotional poverty is around us. The dance makes life smooth in the midst of hardship and drudgery. For the dancer the cup is always overflowing, even though it may be small. There is an element of relaxation and of joyfulness in the rhythm of the music and the twinkling of the feet, which comes as a blessing into the dulness and monotony of life. The overworked factory girl does not seek rest for her muscles after the day of labour, but craves to go on contrasting them in the rhythmic movements of the dance. So it has been at all times. The hardest worked part of the community has usually been the most devoted to the gayety of popular dances. The refined society has in many periods of civilization declined to indulge in dancing, because it was too widely spread among the lowest working classes in towns and in the country. The dance through thousands of years has been the bearer of harmless happiness: who would refuse a welcome to such a benefactor? And with the joyfulness comes the sociability. The dance brings people near together. It is unfair to claim that the dance is aristocratic, because it presupposes leisure and luxury. On the contrary, throughout the history of civilization the dance has been above all, democratic, and has reenforced the feeling of good fellowship, of community, of intimacy, of unity. Like the popular games which melt all social groups together by a common joyful interest, and like humour which breaks all social barriers, the love for dancing removes mutual distrust and harmonizes the masses.
This social effect has manifold relation to another aspect of the dance, which is psychologically perhaps the deepest: the dance is an art, and as such, of deep aesthetic influence on the whole mental life. Whenever the joy in dancing comes into the foreground, this art is developed to high artificiality. No step and no movement is left to the chance inspiration of the moment; everything is prescribed, and to learn the dances not seldom means an almost scientific study. In the great dancing periods of the rococo time the mastery of the exact rules appeared one of the most difficult parts of higher education, and as a real test of the truly cultivated gentleman and gentlewoman; scholarly books analysed every detail of the necessary forms, and the society dances in the castles of the eighteenth century were more elaborate than the best prepared ballets on the stage of to-day. But the popular dances of the really dancing nations are no less bound by traditions, and we know that even the dances of the savages are moving on in strictly inherited forms. Far from the license of haphazard movements, the self-expression of the dancer is thus regulated and bound by rules which are taken by him as prescriptions of beauty. To dance thus means a steady adjustment to artistic requirements; it is an aesthetic education by which the whole system of human impulses becomes harmonized and unified. The chance movements are blended into a beautiful whole, and this reflects on the entire inner setting. Educators have for a long time been aware that calisthenics, with its subtly tuned movements of the body, develops refinement in the interplay of mental life. The personality who understands how to live in gentle, beautiful motions through that trains his mind to beauty. In Europe, for instance in Hellerau near Dresden, they have recently begun to establish schools for young men and women in which the main, higher education is to be moulded by the aesthetics of bodily expression, and the culture of the symbolic dance.
This aesthetic character of the dance, however, leads still further. It is not only the training in beautiful expression; it is the development of an attitude which is detached from practical effects and from the practical life of outer success. The dance is an action by which nothing is produced and nothing in the surroundings changed. It is an oasis in the desert of our materialistic behaviour. From morning till night we are striving to do things, to manufacture something in the mill of the nation: but he who dances is satisfied in expressing himself. He becomes detached from the cares of the hour, he acquires a new habit of disinterested attitude toward life. Who can underestimate the value of such detachment in our American life? The Americans have always been eagerly at work, but have never quite learned to enjoy themselves and to take the aesthetic attitude which creates the wonders of beauty and the true harmonies of life. To forget drudgery and to sink into the rhythms of the dance may bring to millions that inner completeness which is possible only when practical and aesthetic attitude are blending in a personality. The one means restless change; the other means repose, perfection, eternity. This hardworking, pioneer nation needs the noisy teachings of efficiency and scientific management less than the melodious teaching of song and dance and beauty. In short, the dance may bring both treacherous perils and wonderful gifts to our community. It depends upon us whether we reenforce the dangerous elements of the dance, or the beneficial ones. It will depend on ourselves whether the dance will debase the nation, as it has so often done in the history of civilization, or whether it will help to lead it to new heights of beauty and harmony, as it has not seldom done before. Our social conscience must be wide awake; it will not be a blind fate which will decide when the door of the future opens whether we shall meet the lady or the tiger.
The scientific psychologists started on a new road yesterday. For a long time their chief interest was to study the laws of the mind. The final goal was a textbook which would contain a system of laws to which every human mind is subjected. But in recent times a change has set in. The trend of much of the best work nowadays is toward the study of individual differences. The insight into individual personalities was indeed curiously neglected in modern psychology. This does not mean that the declaration of psychological independence insisted that all men are born equal, nor did any psychologist fancy that education or social surroundings could form all men in equal moulds. But as scientists they felt no particular interest in the richness of colours and tints. They intentionally neglected the question of how men differ, because they were absorbed by the study of the underlying laws which must hold for every one. It is hardly surprising that the psychologists chose this somewhat barren way; it was a kind of reaction against the fantastic flights of the psychology of olden times. Speculations about the soul had served for centuries. Metaphysics had reigned and the observation of the real facts of life and experience had been disregarded. When the new time came in which the psychologists were fascinated by the spirit of scientific method and exact study of actual facts, the safest way was for them to imitate the well-tested and triumphant procedures of natural science. The physicist and the chemist seek the laws of the physical universe, and the psychologist tried to act like them, to study the elements from which the psychical universe is composed and to find the laws which control them. But while it was wise to make the first forward march in this one direction, the psychologist finally had to acknowledge that a no less important interest must push him on an opposite way. The human mind is not important to us only as a type. Every social aim reminds us that we must understand the individual personality. If we deal with children in the classroom or with criminals in the courtroom, with customers in the market or with patients in the hospital, we need not only to know what is true of every human being; we must above all discover how the particular individual is disposed and composed, or what is characteristic of special groups, nations, races, sexes, and ages. It is clear that new methods were needed to approach these younger problems of scientific psychology, but the scientists have eagerly turned with concerted efforts toward this unexplored region and have devoted the methods of test experiments, of statistics, and of laboratory measurements to the examination of such differences between various individuals and groups.
But in all these new efforts the psychologist meets a certain public resistance, or at least a certain disregard, which he is not accustomed to find in his routine endeavours. As long as he was simply studying the laws of the mind, he enjoyed the approval of the wider public. His work was appreciated as is that of the biologist and the chemist. But when it becomes his aim to discover mental features of the individual, and to foresee what he can expect from the social groups of men, every layman tells him condescendingly that it is a superfluous task, as instinct and intuition and the naive psychology of the street will be more successful than any measurements with chronoscopes and kymographs. Do we not know how the skilful politician or the efficient manager looks through the mind of a man at the first glance? The life insurance agent has hardly entered the door before he knows how this particular mind must be handled. Every commercial traveller knows more than any psychologist can tell him, and even the waiter in the restaurant foresees when the guest sits down how large a tip he can expect from him. In itself it would hardly be convincing to claim that scientific efforts to bring a process down to exact principles are unnecessary because the process can be performed by instinct. We all can walk without needing a knowledge of the muscles which are used, and can find nourishment without knowing the physiology of nutrition. Yet the physiologist has not only brought to light the principles according to which we actually eat, but he has been able to make significant suggestions for improved diet, and in not a few cases his knowledge can render services which no instinctive appetite could replace. The psychological study of human traits, too, may not only find out the principles underlying the ordinary knowledge of men, but may discover means for an insight which goes as far beyond the instinctive understanding of man as the scientific diet prescribed by a physician goes beyond the fancies of a cook. The manager may believe that he can recognize at the first glance for which kind of work the labourer is fit: and yet the psychological analysis with the methods of exact experiments may easily demonstrate that his judgment is entirely mistaken. Moreover, although such practical psychologists of the street or of the office may develop a certain art of recognizing particular features in the individual, they cannot formulate the laws and cannot lay down those permanent relations from which others may learn.
Yet even this claim of the psychological scholar seems idle pride. Had the world really to wait for his exact statistics and his formulae of correlation of mental traits in order to get general statements and definite descriptions of the human types and of the mental diversities? Are not the writings of the wise men of all times full of such psychological observations? Has not the consciousness of the nations expressed itself in an abundance of sayings and songs, of proverbs and philosophic words, which contains this naive psychological insight into the characters and temperaments of the human mind? We may go back thousands of years to the contemplations of oriental wisdom, we may read the poets of classic antiquity, or Shakespeare, or Goethe, we may study what the great religious leaders and statesmen, the historians and the jurists, have said about man and his behaviour; and we find an over-abundance of wonderful sayings with which no textbooks of psychology can be compared.
This is all true. And yet, is it not perhaps all entirely false? Can this naive psychology of the ages, to which the impressionism and the wisdom of the finest minds have so amply contributed, really make superfluous the scientific efforts for the psychology of groups and correlations and individual traits? It seems almost surprising that this overwhelmingly rich harvest of prescientific psychology has never been examined from the standpoint of scientific psychology, and that no one has sifted the wheat from the chaff. The very best would be not only to gather such material, but to combine the sayings of the naive psychologists in a rounded system of psychology. In all ages they surely must have been among the best observers of mankind, as even what is not connected with the name of an individual author, but is found in proverbs or in the folk-epics of the nations, must have originated in the minds of individual leaders. My aim here is more modest: I have made my little pilgrimage through literature to find out in a tentative fashion whether the supply of psychology, outside of science, is really so rich and valuable as is usually believed. What I wish to offer, therefore, is only a first collection of psychological statements, which the prescientific psychologists have proclaimed, and surely will go on proclaiming, and ought to go on proclaiming, as they do it so beautifully, where we scientists have nothing but tiresome formulae.
Let us begin at the beginning. There has never been a nation whose contemplation was richer in wisdom, whose view of man was subtler and more suggestive, than those of old India. The sayings of its philosophers and poets and thinkers have often been gathered in large volumes of aphorisms. How many of these fine-cut remarks about man contain real psychology? The largest collection which I could discover is that of Boehtlinck, who translated seventy-five hundred Indian sayings into German. Not a few of them refer to things of the outer world, but by far the largest part of them speaks of man and of man's feeling and doing. But here in India came my first disappointment, a disappointment which repeated itself in every corner of the globe. After carefully going through those thousands of general remarks, I could not find more than a hundred and nine in which the observation takes a psychological turn. All those other thousands of reflections on men are either metaphors and comparisons of distinctly aesthetic intent, or rules of practical behaviour with social or moral or religious purpose. Yet even if we turn to this 11/2 per cent. which has a psychological flavour, we soon discover that among those hundred and nine, more than a half are simply definitions of the type of this: "Foolish are they who trust women or good luck, as both like a young serpent creep hither and thither," or this: "Men who are rich are like those who are drunk; in walking they are helped by others, they stagger on smooth roads and talk confusedly." It cannot be said that any psychological observations of the fool's or of the rich man's mind are recorded here. If I sift those maxims more carefully, I cannot find more than two score which, stripped of their picturesque phrasing, could really enter into that world system of naive psychology. And yet even this figure is still too high. Of those forty, most are after all epigrams, generalizations of some chance cases, exaggerations of a bit of truth, or expressions of a mood of anger, of love, of class spirit, or of male haughtiness. The analysis of woman's mind is typical. "Inclination to lies, falsehood, foolishness, greediness, hastiness, uncleanliness, and cruelty are inborn faults of the woman"; or "Water never remains in an unbaked vessel, flour in a sieve, nor news in the mind of women"; or "The mind of a woman is less stable than the ear of an elephant or the flash of lightning." On the other hand we read: "True women have twice as much love, four times as much endurance, and eight times as much modesty as men"; or "The appetite of women is twice as large, their understanding four times as large, their spirit of enterprise six times as large, and their longing for love eight times as large as that of men." Again we read: "The character of women is as changeable as a wave of the sea; their affection, like the rosy tint of a cloud in the evening sky, lasts just for a moment"; or "When women have a man's money, they let him go, as he is no longer of any use to them."
The same one-sidedness and epigrammatic exaggeration can always be felt where whole groups of men are to be characterized. "The faults of the dwarf are sixty, of the red-haired man eighty, of the humpback a hundred, and of the one-eyed man innumerable."