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Insightful(?) Dichotomies

A brief article in the August issue of Psychology Today looks at the current state of affairs of personality tests.

The inconsistency of some of their standards has given rise to doubting the value of results.  Indeed, popular ‘Temperament Sorter’ and ‘Type Indicator’ programs include undesirable features such as “ambiguous language and false dichotomies”.

For example, one question asks the test taker if it feels better to have one’s head in the clouds or to feel like one’s in a rut?  Such questions are likely to trigger uncertainty in how to respond, especially given the alternative meta-meanings of each; although in this particular case, the answer might be affected by whether one is looking up or looking down when considering it.

Many participants do feel that legitimate probing can be valuable; moreover, rating questions as having higher difficulty tends to connect them “with greater perceptions of depth”.

However, challenging does not equate with enlightening: a ‘type indicator’ can result in different personality categories each time such a test is taken.

Assessments which focus on major traits are likely to reveal that aspects such as agreeableness or extraversion come in degrees, not packable absolutes.  It’s the consistency of scores when participants retest which conveys more meaningful revelations.

Given some of the volatility in current societal relationships and expectations, there are no doubt many other paradoxical comparisons one could construct to generate insight…

  • Which is worse, driving on the wrong side of the road or yelling out one’s window in the middle of traffic?
  • Are politicians who lie as expected better than those who lie unexpectedly?
  • Is corruption involving safety worse than corruption involving the pubic purse?
  • Is refusing to help a long-time neighbour worse than refusing to give to charity?
  • Is it better to lead by example or follow with fortitude?
  • Which is worse, a broken fingernail or a broken toenail?
  • Is it easier to handle raining on your parade or dealing with a flat tire?
  • Is a salesperson who omits information to help close a deal worse than a developer who derails information which would stop a deal?
  • Is it better to come to aid a stranger in an emergency or to babysit for an in-law in distress?
  • Is it better to confront a bully at a beach or at a playground?
  • Should one feel right to leave no tip, or is it better to ask for additional free helpings?
  • Are there smarter rules for recycling or for obtaining a driver’s license?

Life Lessons from ‘The Intern’

In September 2015 a comedy-drama film called “The Intern” was released in theatres.  Starring Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway, it told the story of a retired, 70 year-old widower (de Niro) who returns to the work-force as part of a new senior intern program launched by a highly successful, internet clothing company, run since its start in her kitchen 18 months earlier, by its hyper-active founder (Hathaway).

The film’s overall box-office gross overall was close to $200 million (budget approx. $35 million).  It was a financial success, but tended to be overlooked by many in the industry because of its being tagged as something of a ‘chick flick’, and which didn’t feature IMAX worthy special effects.

But what it does boil down to is a feel good journey, whether you’re male or female.

Part of the appeal is having de Niro play against his familiar, tough guy screen persona, fine-tuned through many such roles.  It’s his controlled body language, particularly facial expressions, and easygoing, empathetic, manner which imbue this performance.

Hathaway takes her positive, likeable persona to a richer, more emotionally vulnerable level.  While the inspiring pillar of her fast-paced work-place (where she rides a bicycle to get different areas of the large work floor), she gradually takes on a side-role as protégé; while de Niro initially is her intern, his savvy, from life and years of managerial experience, win over her confidence, so that by the end of the film they are almost equals.  This is beautifully symbolized in the final scene, cinematically, by Hathaway joining with de Niro in his outdoor Tai Chi group, implicitly leading her through a new field of energy and self-awareness.

With this backdrop, it’s easy to appreciate many life lessons which can emerge:

  • It doesn’t hurt to have professional-looking clothing last well beyond your main career years
  • Just because you have more than one interviewer, it doesn’t mean the questions will become more apropos or logical
  • Bike lanes are not necessary in an office if only the boss is a rider
  • Serving as a chauffeur can provide many opportunities for practicing facial contortions unseen
  • Having a handkerchief handy, truly, can be one of the last vestiges of male chivalry
  • Trust a long-time resident to know how to get there
  • Sometimes it’s all in the packaging and size matters
  • A good way to be less conspicuous when leaving a hotel due to an alarm is to bring your own bathrobe
  • Drinking with the boss is O.K. if the latter gets more inebriated than you do
  • On occasion being a bad influence is part of being a good influence
  • Manipulation is a craft which can be learned at a young age
  • A good, solid briefcase can span generations

Reserved Seating Not Needed Here

Our most recent taking in a movie, at our local cinema house, exposed a new wrinkle in the ticket buying experience.  Notwithstanding that my spouse and I were attending a less than half-filled show in the afternoon, we had to select our seats in advance, like choosing concert or airline tickets on a laptop screen.

Apparently, this has become de rigueur at least at some local screens in the last month or so.  One would have thought some warning or notification, if only for public relations sake, would have been justified. (more…)

The Price of Being Outspoken

Many are those whose careers have been negatively impacted by being considered too outspoken. Especially when such speech rattles the cages of those in power, there may be consequences disproportionate to a particular issue raised.

Many examples through history illustrate this conundrum.  We don’t have to look past our current age to see this conflict play out. (more…)

Life Lessons from THE GOOD FIGHT

Now in its second season, TV series THE GOOD FIGHT, a spin-off from the seven years’ run of THE GOOD WIFE, seems to be firmly grounded in being topical and controversial.  Moreover, the controversy angle has explored more rarefied plateaus, with numerous references to the twists and stumbles, and worse, of the current U.S. administration.

Its opening title sequence, for many series, increasingly has become an art form, and this one certainly fits the bill. (more…)

TOP Craft Show Products of the Future

The year-end holiday season is the ripest time of the year for most retailers, providing more customers the chance to satisfy their gift buying goals.

While the ‘bricks-and-mortar’ version of the typical retail establishment has become increasingly usurped by on-line alternatives, there remains an important factor in favour of the former: the tactile experience of checking out items in the flesh. There are times you need to feel or examine a potential purchase before being truly satisfied the cost/benefit analysis works in your favour. (more…)

TOP 10 Life Lessons from TWIN PEAKS – The Return

For those inspired by the more outré versions of TV programming, ‘TWIN PEAKS’ has represented one of the iconic lynchpins (or, perhaps more accurately, Lynch-pins). It has displayed a chunk of the world with unique, somewhat relatable, people operating from ethical codes which supported their behaviour in bizarre events and developments.

The dream-like atmosphere around the eccentric characters in the original 1990s series was enhanced by a haunting, hypnotic music score. (more…)