Review “Leadership through social influence” course in COURSERA

Incorporating findings from psychology into organizations, getting people to do what you want b persuading rather than forcing or ordering them to do. This is written as a reflection on “Leadership through social influence course” taught by Professor Daniel J. O’Keefe from Northwestern University. Readers are encouraged to take this course HERE.

1        Kinds of problems

Four kinds of approaches to different persuasion and also are tools for basic influence used for any concrete situations.

Let’s start by thinking about those four questions and situations to come up with four common challenges and four different possible answers:

1. Why aren’t people doing what you are doing? Don’t have a positive attitude

2. Social considerations: what people think what the other people do or should do.

3. Perceived possibilities to perform the behavior: Why do people think they can’ to do and don’t even try, and how to solve it?

4. Why do they already intend to do, but don’t translate those good intentions into action?

2        Influencing personal attitudes

People don’t have positive attitudes about your idea. The challenge is to change those attitudes, to get people see that your proposal, your idea is a good one.

2.1       Consequence-based argument

A common argument used in any situation is the argument that is based on its consequence. Starting to sort out answers to the questions of how to maximize our persuasiveness, the simple ones is the if /then arguments or is basically in forms of conditional situation. A consequences argument can be phrased either as positive consequences of doing the advocated action, or as negative consequences of not doing the advocated action. You can talk about the same basic consequence either way.

2.2       Consequence desirability

The more desirable the consequences of the advocated action, the more persuasive the argument is.

However, different people value different things; they vary in what consequences they value. It depends on their cultural differences or individual collectivism and whether they prefer longer-term or shorter term consquences.

Example: Sun cream (short term: sunburnt; long term – skincare)

Don’t assume you know about the consequences one person wants!!!

Example: You are trying to discourage smoking in teenagers,, mentioning to lung cancer and heart disease is not as persuasive as talking about social consequences such as it effects on their appearances.

2.3       Consequence likelihood

Even when people are convinced about desirability, they doubt whether the outcomes will actually occur.

Strategy 1: Before and after pictures:

You should give them multiple examples, cases (statistical, individual examples) and involve some parallel cases.

Strategy 2: Describe the underlying mechanism (how the advocated action comes to produce the claimed consequence; the process; the causal consequence, the mechanism); people will easily believe if they can imagine the process the effects happen.

2.4       Addressing counterarguments

There might be some opposing ideas, objections that your avocations are unproved and the result has not been founded yet.

The mistake is just ignoring the counterarguments; you need to undertake refutation of opposing counterarguments

Example: Possible counterarguments: diet – boring, not tasting very good

Strategy 1: Refute the counterarguments if you can

In case you can’t refute?

Strategy 2: Overwhelm by invoking all your supportive arguments (outweigh the negative ones); not even mention the counterarguments.

Strategy 3: Straightforward acknowledgement of drawbacks to your proposal (tend to remove skepticism and people will be more inclined to find that persuasion more believable).

3        Influencing social factors

Personal attitudes are not enough; social factors also influence people behavior.

3.1       Changing Descriptive Norms

Person perception of what the other people perform the behavior

Example: Everyone in my neighborhood recycle, so I should recycle, too. /I think it is a good idea, but nobody else.

Strategy: Give descriptive norm information, what other people are doing. (People don’t always realize what other people are actually doing, focus on inaccurate descriptive norms)

3.2       De-emphasizing prescriptive norms:

Person perception about what other people should do/prescribe for them, preventing them from doing this.

Strategy 1: De-emphasize, put more weight on their own attitudes than what other people think; that it should be your decisions, that you should do what you think is right; you should make decisions for yourself.

Note: Is there a way I could perhaps get the person to emphasize their own attitudes more than what other people think they should do?

Strategy 2: Discount person’s view specifically (don’t pay attention to what one says; he doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to these sorts of things/’s biased on this particular subject)

3.3       Changing prescriptive norms:

Persuadee already has the attitudes you want, but they have a negative prescriptive norm. 

Strategy: Enlarge persuasive focus to include those other people, third parties. (bring them on board, show them it’s a good idea for people to do what you’re suggesting)

Note: Is there someone else I need to talk to and persuade them?

4        Influencing perceived ability

They don’t think they can; it is too difficult

4.1       The importance of Perceived ability

They already have positive descriptive, descriptive norms about doing things.

The questions are whether they knew how to do things and about how easy or difficult they thought about doing something.

Strategy: Alert to the possibility that you may need to address people’s perceptions of behavioral ability and difficulty.

4.2       Removing Obstacles

Strategy 1: Directly remove obstacles (informational area: give them information if they lack, don’t know exactly how to do it – a brochure how to perform the behavior; substantive obstacles – related causes, transportation for moving to and from a clinic for example)

Example: Amazon creates one-click shopping.

4.3       Rehearsal and modelling

Strategy 2: Rehearsal or practice.

Some people who have high desirability but low perceive ability, provide supervise training activity.

Example: You are aiming at teaching students about safe sex and make them have a conversation with their partners, a role-play will give them opportunities for practice.

Involve himself/herself in doing the activity.

Strategy 3: Modelling

See someone else successfully do it or actually use the technique.

Example: not finish paperwork on time, talk to them about how important it is, perceive difficulty, and think about other ways to make people feel easier to perform the action.

5        Convert intentions into actions

What can do to encourage people to convert intentions into actions?

5.1       Prompts

Simple things like Reminders, cues, triggers call the behavior to mind. (Posters, phone calls, emails, etc.)

Example: Using stairs instead of escalators: using a simple sign will encourage people to use stairs rather than using escalators.

In which situations?

  • Already have intentions to do things
  • Already believe they’re capable

5.2       Explicit Planning

Instead of having abstract ideas, make a specific plan and think concretely about the ideas.

Example: Plan when and where, and how they can do things

5.3        Inducing guilt

Make people feel bad about their inconsistency.

Experience negative feelings about their existing positive attitudes and intentions on the one hand and their inconsistent behavior on the other, change their course of action. 

Strategy: Feedback about their actual energy and attitude reminder

A dangerous strategy, when people react negatively to over attempts to make them feel guilty which makes them resistant to change. Besides, it can backfire if perceived behavioral ability isn’t sufficient enough.   

Again, I believe that this course is quite useful and easily understandable. If you like it, click HERE for a free online COURSE course.

What makes a Gothic Story?

What makes a Gothic Story?

Gothic literature is connected to Gothic architecture. In general, gothic writers evoke the dark effects in their writing. Gothic literature is trying to scare or unnerve you based on what you, as the reader, already have in your head. In some ways that is much scarier to me. Gothic literature focuses on what is feared in society and plays it on a bigger scale in order to scare the reader.

Gothic Setting in A Chapel

There are several elements of a Gothic Story, including:

1. Setting: Dark and crumbling setting in an old mansion, or a castle, a grave yard, cave, monastery, church, cathedral, chapel or dungeon.

2. The common characters: villain, young maiden, older woman, clergyman

3. Content: The characters often get involved in complex and evil intentions, often against an innocent or helpless victim. The hero struggles against the villain or the dark force.

4. Melodrama: Melodrama, or “high emotion”, is created through extremely emotional language and characters. Often, the dread, fear and other emotions can seem overdone. However, this is suitable to the mood and atmosphere of Gothic stories.

5. Omens: Omens or visions are used as elements of foreshadowing. They can take different forms, such as dreams and nightmares.

Some Gothic novels recommended for you are: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein, Dracula.

Read more about Best Gothic Novels of All Times

Day 1: Consonants in English Pronunciation

Welcome to the FREE English Pronunciation Course.

This is the first day of your journey to learn English pronunciation.

To learn English pronunciation, you must first get familiar with IPA chart and learn to pronounce several consonant sounds in English.

Follow those easy steps to learn English consonants!

Step 1: Get familiar with IPA chart (2 minutes to read)

The phonetic chart includes both vowels (pronunciation of a e i o u and their combination) and consonants (the other letters in the alphabet and their combination). However, today we just focus on the consonant sounds.

Note: You don’t need to learn it by heart. From now on, whenever you need to know to pronounce a word, check the dictionary for its phonetic. By using this chart, you will gradually upgrade your pronunciation.

Phonetic Chart

Step 2: Learn the English consonants (8-minute video)

Easy and effective. Now, let look at yourself in the mirror and try to imitate/copy what you can hear and see in the video.

Step 3: Practice and record (15 minutes)

“Practice makes perfect”. Merely knowing things does not help you improve your pronunciation. From today, you should practice pronouncing the consonants and recording your voice at least twice or three times a week. Listening to own voice is also a fantastic way to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

Congratulations👏! You have finished the first day to improve your pronunciation!

Look at HERE for more Pronunciation lessons!

The mail and the secrecy

This is written as a reflection on the second chapter of the book ” A Tale of Two Cites” by Charles Dickens, “The Mail”.

On a stormy night in late 1775, a “mail” headed its way towards Dover, known as the main port for passage between England and French, carrying three passengers, fraught with suspicion and surveillance.  Each of the passengers seemed to have their own secrets.

An approach horse was heard; a messenger sought one of the men on the coach, Mr. Jarvis Lorry working at Tellson’s Bank. Lorry recognized him; it was Jerry Cruncher, who worked odd-jobs for Tellson’s. His profession was unknown and deemed as a secret; one of many others which each of every other character in the story kept for themselves. 

A secret letter was sent to Lorry, writing “Wait at Dover for Mam’selle”. In response, Lorry told Jerry to return to Tellson’s “Recalled to life”. Neither Jerry nor the coach drivers overhearing the mysterious message figured out what it meant. However, an odd thought came to Jerry’s mind that “recalling to life” may affect his work. The question is again raised in terms of Jerry’s jobs.

The chapter is short, but contributes to the success of the story by suggesting and impressing the readers with one of the most important themes of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, “Secret and Surveillance”. 

“The period ” in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dicken

The opening of ” A tale of Two Cities” written by Charles Dickens is a well-known quote in casual conversation as well as in academic. 

“THE PERIOD” – Excerpt from “A Tale of Two Cities”

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,

we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

A Tale of Two Cities: great opening line, great opening paragraph
Class struggle and social reform in France and England in 1775


Myriads of contrasting concepts, “best” and “worst”, “wisdom” and “foolishness”, “belief” and “incredulity”, “Light” and “Darkness”, “spring of hope” and “winter of despair”, suggest an epoch during which England and France were going through their social reform. Both countries were simultaneously experiencing very similar situations. Throughout those years, the rulers and ruling classes of both countries had the best of life, but they were out of touch with the commoners who were deemed to have been through struggled lives full of intolerable and extreme injustice. The boulevards the protagonist had once strolled languidly were loaded with furry and violent mobs who turned the streets into a “bloodbath of class retribution”. The “Farmer” and the “Woodman” who “though work unceasingly, work silently” were heard by no one that they “were awake” “to be “atheistical and traitorous”.

Social reform was hence foreshadowed and requisite for those dealing with such class struggles.

Overwhelmed by senses in The Picture of Dorian Gray

This is written as a reflection on the first chapter of the book “The picture of Dorian Gray”.

The first two paragraphs “set the scene” for the entire novel.

Starting the very first lines, the readers are presented with sensual overload; sights, sounds and particularly smells of flowers and trees are dominating the scene. The synonyms “odour”, “scent”, and “purfume” are much more evocative than “smell”, leading the reader to an exquisite and rich life of the British in the 18th century.  

Sensual overload

This image of smoking ” from the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags” as “his custom” epitomises the nature of Lord Henry as a pleasure-seeking dandy. 

Lord Henry shows himself as a great admirer of beauty and keen observer of life. The readers seem to feel them be with the character; the articulated sounds “b” and “f” are dominant in his languorous description “Honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains”.

At the end of the passage, London is described with “the dim roar” as “distant”, suggesting the isolation of three main characters of the stories, each of whom leads a different lifestyle. This is also a hint of the detachment of Basil’s garden from London, where Dorian’s temptation arouses leading to his eventual fall.

” Art for Art’s Sake ” from Wilde’s perspective

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spotify-badge.svg

Art for art’s sake means that arts should not be judged in relation to political or economical views. In the preface to his novel, he wrote, “All art is quite useless”. He believed that art need not express anything but itself and the value of art is beyond any other means. In fact, from Wilde’s perspective, “No artist desires to prove anything” although “The artist can express everything”. Besides, every other human being is occupied with “making a useful thing” as “he does not admire it”, while artists are the ones who are willing to make “a useless thing” due to his admiration for art.