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Archive for the ‘Behaviour & Relationships’ Category

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

What is More Fun than Hot & Humid Weather?

It’s early July, and the times (i.e. morning and night), they’re only limited respites from hot and humid.

What could be more fun?  According to some pundits in the media in Canada, we should be grateful for whatever we get, because it’s much better than the cold of mid-winter.  Indeed, they consider the extremely uncomfortable conditions in eastern Canada this past week, outside the protection of air-conditioning, are simply part of the price to pay.

Why do so many seem to dwell on tipping the balance of what otherwise would seem to the solstice semi-annual trade-offs?

Meanwhile, there are a lot of us happy with average daily high and low temperatures, no need to try to boil the thermometer.  After all, moderation in all things…

So, to put things in perspective, what, really, could be more fun than the setting of new humidex bars of discomfort?  (Note: this hypothetical could also apply to certain political rallies, especially in the U.S.)

  • Sliding down a barbed-wire fence
  • Having dental surgery without freezing; or, having the freezing
  • Finding a winning lottery ticket for which the cash-in deadline has just expired
  • Being the tenth person in line to use the same cloth to clean up
  • Looking up words in a dictionary which does not list them in alphabetical order
  • Being awarded $10 coupons toward the purchase of expensive sports cars
  • Wearing clothes which were comfortable two sizes ago
  • The day after confirming a fabulous vacation, a medical appointment you can’t avoid is re-scheduled to the same week
  • Purchasing a rare, expensive baseball card, three days before a cache of the same card is uncovered in someone’s attic
  • Celebrating finally getting a hole-in-one, then noticing it was the wrong green
  • Being stepped on by ten people, at once, in a crowded elevator
  • Finding a $20 bill on the street, then realizing your wallet is missing

Of course, there are many other examples, but not necessarily as enjoyable as these.

Where Can I Get a GPS Tattoo?

We have become party to a panoply of leisure travel destinations, embellished by baby boomers entering the retirement lifestyle mode in ever-greater numbers.  With this comes the need to satisfy an ever-widening array of interests or concerns, while communicating with a range of cultures.

There is an abundance of information in both printed and on-line forms, not to mention anecdotal tips one may encounter.  Books in full size to pocket size offer flexibility and quick access for travelers on the move, who do not want to be dependent on connecting devices.  (Of course, many younger trip takers prefer the latter.) (more…)

TOP 10 Election Aftermath Realities

Among the truisms of government elections, and candidates’ behaviours, are that many of them are predicated on massage or sublimation.

Such as in the afterglow of Ontario’s provincial election June 7th(more…)

Life Lessons Learned After Class

So-called advances in education (as in, children not learning multiplication tables?!) notwithstanding, there’s plenty to be said for enhancing self-awareness the personal way, via introspection blended with own experiences, stories of the streets, etc.

The June edition of Psychology Today includes a list of skills which are likely to be only truly clarified, then absorbed, outside the classroom.  The key rewards for doing so lie in linking one’s vision with achieving life goals. (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…)