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Sums and Psychology

Now, if I seem particularly caustic during this article it’s because a) I am scathing of people who believe they can know you, understand your personality, and predict your actions, based on a short series of poorly thought out questions, and b) because I am, both

according to the series of questions and a longer more extensive investigation into myself, pretty caustic (at the moment) in general.

I was wishing someone I like birthday jubilations this morning (not because I particularly care it’s his birthday, nor do I pay much attentions to birthdays at all; I certainly wouldn’t have remembered it was his birthday if one of those social media sites I abused so recently in another article – so ok, I do find those media sites very useful in that I don’t even need to enter the benefactor’s birthday into my calendar: nail in the coffin? Instead, after a good old English upbringing, if I do remember/am reminded, it is, after all, the thing to do...), when I stumbled across a site called personality factors, trying to make a quick buck by giving you a taste of who you are by asking you who you are...!

I shall try to list some of the questions, and their ‘intelligent’ way of cross referencing, and then, perhaps, pick a few holes in the assessment (of course there’s an excellent chance I shall let slip the reins and canter ahead now and again).

To begin I would like to list my own results (narcissistic...?), but rather than giving the detailed percentage of my personality (a very specific number [apparently] out of a hundred, on a great many traits, based on only a sixty five question assessment...), I shall limit myself to low, medium and high[ish]. Bear in mind the whole thing is shaped like a circle with ‘warmth’ being at the top, and ‘distrust’ being at the bottom (the specific positioning of the traits would seem to tell us more about the assessors than the recipients, eh...?) – I shall also include the picture of my own score of which I not only enjoy for its comic value, think it will make a lovely wall hanging for the living room...

  1. Warmth: low

  2. Intellect: high

  3. Emotional stability: low

  4. Assertiveness: high

  5. Gregariousness: low (particularly interesting in light of my website...)

  6. Dutifulness: medium

  7. Friendliness: medium

  8. Sensitivity: medium

  9. Distrust: low

  10. Imagination: high

  11. Reserve: low

  12. Anxiety: high

  13. Complexity: high

  14. Self-reliance: high

  15. Orderliness: high

  16. Emotionality: medium

So, sixty five questions can not only tell you all that about my personality, apparently about all our personalities, but it can give you a far more detailed figure, 65, for example (presume out of a hundred, although that information was never provided, and I do wonder if it is even possible to be 100% assertive, or anxious, or 0% distrustful or orderly...).

Another thing they advertise before you PAY for the full analysis (no, of course I didn’t), are ideas such as ‘emotional stability: low score: reactive emotionally, changeable, affected by feelings, easily upset, high score: emotionally stable, adaptive, mature, faces reality calmly’. Refusing to use the acronym WTF, I shall just come out and say ‘what the fuck!’ What is wrong with reacting to a situation emotionally, to be able to change, to be affected by your feelings and to be easily upset...? In a world where the things we are sure of, we rely on, we depend on, are so far removed from our illusion of control we are literally afloat in a raging storm; where the very nature of our lives is to end and lose, why should we not rail and weep at the sheer unfairness of creation...? To suggest that these personality traits (if you even have them, because a sixty five question test would seem a woefully inadequate measure of a personality), are things to be ashamed of (my decisive assessment), in the face of ‘faces reality calmly’, makes me want to hit someone... calmly...!

Next there is a piece on ‘global personality report’ (which you have to pay for, so I only have the map and an example). What does ‘global’ mean here, I certainly don’t know, nor do I wish to venture a guess, but the categories are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (in the little map they display the example shows openness being low and extraversion being high, which while not necessarily being illogical do seem to be a little at odds with each other). What is global about these traits (we need to understand their concept of ‘global’, but are these really the foundational traits of our personality?)? I’m open or shut, careful or not, get my pleasure from outside or in, nice or not, weird or not... there you have it...we’re summed up!

Anyway, I could scathe people and sites like this all day and not feel in the smallest satisfied (who wants to feed on vermin when you can dine on apex predator?); there are so many ‘psychological tests’, ‘studies have shown’, capable of separating people from their hard earned (or not so much...), cash, and as we like to say in good old Blighty ‘there’s one born every minute’. People are desperate – you can see it everywhere (in affluent, developed countries); people simply have too much free time, ‘luxury time’, and with it too much thinking time backed by an education just potent enough to leave too many existential thoughts floating around that cavernous cranium. Angst as a baseball player on his third strike...

Let’s move away from that subject as it’s not something to be solved but to be lived with, and return loosely, to the site and their psychological questions. I don’t want to insult the site further, but to simply show that the interpretation of their questions is what the desperate/gullible [needy] reader takes to heart. At some point the assessor[s] were equally conditioned by environmental circumstances to view ‘I enjoy bringing people together’ as something gregarious, ‘I get irritated easily’ as being a sign of a impatience, ‘I prefer to do things myself’ as a sign of self-reliance, and ‘I am easily hurt’ as a sign of sensitivity (while ignoring for the moment I not only chose these statements because they directly correlate to the titles the personality traits the analysis gave me, but also parts of my own personality chose them unconsciously).

Why can’t ‘I enjoy bringing people together’ mean ‘I’m so unhappy with my own existence I find it diverting to insinuate myself, forcefully, if necessarily, into the personal relationships of other’? Why can’t ‘I get irritated easily’ be a sign of ‘I understand the difficulties involved in making and carrying out complex plans, and as I’m attempting to achieve something above average, I need to be invested in those plans’? ‘I prefer to do things myself’ now means ‘I’m really ugly and quite overweight, I also have a body odour problem; I’m also intelligent enough to know people, as polite as they might be, just don’t like being around me, so to spare everyone involved being uncomfortable I have adjusted, not unhealthily, to getting satisfaction from solitary pursuits’, and ‘I’m easily hurt’ to mean ‘My heart is so charitable, my empathy so over-developed, my critical awareness of the emotive state of others so accurate, I cannot help but weep at the suffering I see around me with every glance’ (apart from the facts those answers are so long the average ‘time-killer’ visiting such a site would be unlikely to reach the end of the second statement before wandering off in search of a celebrity affair)?

These traits, viewed so negatively in modern society, where to stand out, to be exceptional, is to be targeted and torn to shreds, are the exact same traits praised by the exact same people, in genius of old; genius allowed because it holds no direct light up to the shadows of peoples living today...

Let’s have another look at that list...

  1. Warmth: kind to people/psychologically needy

  2. Intellect: the ability to think clearly (it’s actually difficult to think of an negative)

  3. Emotional stability: calm and collected/inhibited and boring

  4. Assertiveness: positive/dogmatic

  5. Gregariousness: outgoing and social/afraid of self-analysis

  6. Dutifulness: loyal/fanatical

  7. Friendliness: open to others/socially unstable

  8. Sensitivity: emotionally unstable/empathetic

  9. Distrust: paranoid/insightful

  10. Imagination: creative/daydreamer

  11. Reserve: emotionally cut off/careful in one’s judgements

  12. Anxiety: insecure/aware of ‘global’ variables

  13. Complexity: highly intelligent/emotional shut off and introverted

  14. Self-reliance: capable/socially inept

  15. Orderliness: calm, analytical thinking process/obsessive

  16. Emotionality: caring, feeling/easily manipulated

To suggest there is a simple reading to any single word, when applied to something as complex and fluid as a personality is folly of the worst kind, and when applied, understanding the desperate need in people today to find and understand their place in the world, for fiscal gain little more than disgusting, but taking advantage of people for money isn’t really a new notion.

What have we learnt...? Who knows... but that’s the point; we don’t learn by reading something, not really, we learn by absorbing that something into an unconscious mass of other ‘something[s]’ we have previously read, seen, heard, felt, tasted, deducted, inferred, etc..., and become something more, something different, something else than we were the moment before we read, saw, heard, etc...

Bored of this – something else tomorrow...

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