WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS SAY? by Patricia H. & Louis M. Savary Berne


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Few of the 429 persons polled for this survey worried about what their next-door neighbor thought--""neighbor,"" as used here, is a catchphrase for anyone whose opinions we might care about. The survey itself is a makeshift affair, containing only five questions and distributed unevenly (more than half the respondents were high school and college students, less than a quarter were over 40). What, then, do the respondents ""fear"" most? Negative labels, particularly apropos of our relations with others (impolite, unfriendly); our competence (stupid, irresponsible); and our character (cruel, phony). The reason: ""The fear of being disliked . . . triggers primitive fears in us of not being wanted. . . ."" As for the most influential people, friends, mother, and father rate highest. Berne and Savary, social scientists by training (and authors of several superficial guides like this), draw halfheartedly on the findings of sociologists, anthropologists, and psychologists to explain--at some length--that gossip is society's way of maintaining the status quo. The five ways to extricate ourselves, jammed into a late chapter, include listing one's positive qualities and developing a positive self-image. Shallow and careless.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Continuum