Experiences & Brainstorming
The fourth dimension is the dimension of emotional stability back in the day when personality was first being different, personality psychology was first being developed they called that neuroticism ous faras I can tell nobody knows what the word neurotic means andi just it makes it sound like like somebody on a movie set so so they changed it to write to woody allen so they change that teo teo emotional stability because I think it that makes it a little bit clearer what this means again this is one where it seems it seems clear to people that one end seems better than the other. It just seems better to be emotionally stable than it does to be neurotic or unstable or something like that. Um this is an interesting one. Emotional stability reflects muchmore how much energy is flowing through that motivational system you know? So we talked yesterday when we talked about your motivational system. We talked about goals that you might have and a lot of these personality characteristics seem...
to be a reflection of the default goals that you have. But we also talked about the fact that goals need a certain amount of arousal in order to be engaged and emotional stability is to some degree related to how much arousal typically flows through the system right? Because remember the amount of arousal you get influences the strength of those reactions that you get two things so the emotionally stable people those are the folks who are just they're they're like iraq you know times are good and they're like yeah, you know times are bad and they're like uh you know but they're not there is an extreme reaction the emotionally unstable people in your life when times aarggh good they're great and when times are terrible they're the worst ever right there people who get angry they fly off the handle if you've ever had a boss in your life who was emotionally unstable you it's really unpleasant right? Because you never know who's showing up that day, right which who is it today and that's and they get they get angry with you they fly off the handle it can be a little bit disconcerting toe have somebody who's who's ah boss who's above you who's who's a little bit on the unstable end of things. And one of the interesting things about this emotional stability dimension is that people who are on the unstable end of things actually manifest all of their personality characteristics a little bit less strongly so they tend to be all over the map in all of their characteristics, which is why you really don't know who you're going to get are we going to get really happy and outgoing married today or we gonna get really angry and taciturn married today? We don't know right until she shows out um the extremes on this actually interesting thing to me is my sense is that the extremes on this dimension are both a little bit problematic and that the middle is kind of a happy place to be if you're extremely on the stable and you don't have a ton of arousal in the system, which means on the one and you are like a rock but on the other hand it can get you can be really hard for you to get engaged with anything in particular you have like a kind of really emotionally stable friend you're never quite sure if you're friends with them, you know, like you call them and they're like no, no, we're friends and you like really because I'm not getting what getting much back from you and they're like what no, I'm this is great I'm so I'm so happy that we're that we're friends and you're like just that it just doesn't feel that warm and fuzzy to me, you know? And they just don't betray much because they're they're not there isn't a lot of arousal I mean this is like my so my dad, right? The reason that he shows he displays all of this in motion when he's watching the giants is because that situation is so arousing for him he loves football and hates watching the giant sloughs which are particularly nineteen seventies was something that happened together very often and so he would get really angry at the tv set because the situation created that arousal and he had the let it out somehow but under normal circumstances he's pretty kind of low key about stuff and so pretty pretty even okay, so it's it's really a reflection of how much of that energy is flowing through the system? Now, if you are on the unstable end of things, if you have this tremendous amount of energy, then there are habits that you get into a cz well, right? Because remember, the thing about that energy is it really is not just it, not just metaphorical mental energy it's actually physical energy that needs to be expressed in some way, right? And so you know you may be you may have been prone earlier in your lives to temper tantrums or tow, you know, getting really angry but also getting really excited about stuff. One of the things that you need to do is to develop strategies to blow off a little bit of that steam. When, uh when you get really aroused about something, if you get if you get overly excited and frustrated about something, then you need to find a way to dissipate some of that energy so, you know, going out for a walk, right? If you if somebody does something that really annoys you you know, finding a room you can walk into count to ten and take some deep breaths and allows some of that energy to dissipate that's a really good thing to do you know, learning deep breathing is great again, you know, there's that there's such an intimate connection between body and mind you know it's very hard to maintain a lot of emotional energy when you breathe slowly and deeply right? Try that, you know, every if you get nervous is you know, when you do that when you go right it's coming it is it's just physically a common thing to do and it dissipate some of that energy and it's actually better to do something like that. Then it is teo to try and do something that you think of his cathartic right? So there are there are people I know who like to try to play video games when they get angry, right? And there's a lot of interesting data on this now, um if you get really angry about something and you go and you just go play a really violent video game, it doesn't necessarily help okay can help. So it's so it's it's a little bit complicated? If you're going to go play a violent video game because you're really angry, you have to do it explicitly thinking I'm doing this in order to calm myself down but if you just think to yourself I'm really angry I need to go shoot something actually that creates a habit in which in which I get really angry and think I need to be aggressive and you can then turn that on other people not necessarily in a violent way but you can get you get you can continue that anger with other people so the on ly way to kind of get yourself calm down bye bye getting it all out is the is the really save yourself this is the purpose of doing this thing because otherwise you actually teach yourself a new habit which is whenever I get angry I should get aggressive and that's not a habit you want to build yes, well I could see like as a coping mechanism that maybe you turned to drugs and alcohol or maybe food t kind of calm down, right? So so the thing about having high levels of arousal is that being very highly aroused could be either very pleasant or unpleasant depending on whether you're experiencing a positive or negative thing but just a za kind of preview for thinking about some of that stuff when you have a lot of arousal and energy and it's negative, you need a way and we don't like negative feelings there unpleasant so how do you get around those and and in particular, how do you get around them if they're being caused in part by the situation that you're in so if you're just angry about something for a moment because somebody annoyed you you walk away from the situation and your your entire mood changes because you're out of that situation but if you're living in a world in which you feel like it's impossible to escape that negativity and you're a little bit on the unstable and so you've got a lot of this arousal then you walk around with that pit in your stomach all the time lot of stress a lot of anxiety, a lot of anger and now you need a way to get beyond that and there are healthy ways to do that you know meditation and and you know, yoga and exercise those are those are very healthy ways to get away from that but you know you can often dull those feelings with with alcohol and drugs and food and other things that are essentially safety behaviors remember when we talked about obsessive compulsive disorder yesterday we talked about how there are these behaviours people will engage in sometimes to help them get away from extreme stress and anxiety you know? So so for some people it's locking and unlocking the door thirty times and for other people it's taking, you know, three shots of vodka on their way out the door in the morning to go to work, you know um and so these these behaviors can be a reflection of you know, this this desire to calm the energy level down and you know, alcohol's a downer, right? I mean, after the after the first drink the first drink kind of dulls the inhibitory mechanisms and so it actually makes you a little bit more energetic um and then after about three or four drinks then it's a downer on the whole system and then you start shutting down um yeah, okay, the last of the of the dimensions is a really interesting one it's one that's called openness to experience openess to experience is more or less what it sounds like it's to what degree are you interested in willing to try new things on for size, right? It doesn't necessarily mean you're going to accept a new idea or try a new thing, but you're willing to consider it so if you're open to experience, you know you hear about a new restaurant you think let me check that out you know you read new books, you you goto a genre of movies you've never seen before for your willing tto listen toe music that's a little bit weird you'll engage in a conversation with somebody who disagrees with you on something just to see how that conversation goes people who are closed to experience they they don't like new things simply because they're new they don't like deviations from the routine and in fact those deviations from the routine can be really stressful and anxiety provoking for people who are on the clothes to experience end of things um I have one one of my kids who I hope isn't watching is about as close to experience a cz you can get and so you know early on in his life and he he he sort of has remained this he's actually got a little bit better over the years I will say in case you want but but uh but but early on would um I needed to know the plan like if we were gonna go out for the day he needed to know like exactly what we were going to do and then we had to do exactly what we said we were going to do and if we didn't do exactly what we said we were going to do then you know there was that was that was a real problem you know? And he reads the same books over and over again right? Because he just likes to go back to a world he's been in before as opposed to exploring lots of new things now this openness to experience ah dimension isn't is a really interesting one people who are very open to experience tend to be more creative than people who are on the closed to experience end of things because another aspect of creativity is that you need to be willing to try something new on for size and people who are afraid of new things who who find new things to really be anxiety provoking they're not going to do things in a very creative way they're going to prefer to do things the way that they've always done them and and by the way, right again you think, well, you know, here we are right where I'm in a studio at creative lives, so obviously opened this to experience must be awesome, and it is I mean, you know, I'm a big fan of openess to experience but it's not that being close to experiences, terrible, I mean, there are lots of times actually where you could get yourself in real trouble by just trying to do something in a new way, right? I mean, there's a reason why we call certain methods, the tried and true way of doing something it's because they've probably worked for an awfully long time. So, you know, being being having people in any organization who are a little bit resistant to change can actually be a good thing um and I don't give you an example of a place where it is a really good thing, so we talked yesterday about habits we talked about the danger of changing the user interface for things right? So I've noticed, for example, that creative live has changed some of its user interface it's now life and money instead of business and money, but but one of the things about changing user interfaces is that it can be a good thing and that it might rebrand something or it might be an accurate reflection of where the company is now, but when you change the user interface, you're also influencing the habits of the users, right? So there's a trade off? If you're an organization that is totally open to new experiences and everyone in the organization is open new experiences you may very well change the user interface every three months got to try some new got to try something you got to try something new. Um, and this can actually be really frustrating for your customers who can't find the stability to generate habits to use your product. So it's useful to have a couple of people in the organization who are a little bit on the clothes to experience and who might say, hey, folks, not so hasty let's, let's, calm things down a little bit, maybe consider sticking with what we've been doing for a little while longer and seeing how that goes right so you don't want a whole organization that just is constantly seeking change any more than you want an organization that never, ever changes right you want to be somewhere in between I mean as I always say if you think about um uh like which company developed digital imaging all right, what what company developed digital imaging kodak right? Why didn't they develop it? Because we don't do digital imaging where a film company we developed digital imaging people might not buy film as opposed to saying somebody's going to develop digital imaging and when they do no one's going to want film anymore we'd better be the ones to do it right so how open to experience are you going to be in these kinds of situations? Yes question about the big five you just mentioned creativity being tied to openness and shruti wants to know so do all creatives fall in a certain profile or is there some way to generalize about creatives and then also engineers entrepreneurs are there sort of generalities that you can take when you look at these? Yeah yeah that's a great question and so all else being equal there are tendencies to characterize different different types of people by by some of the characteristics that they have so there are always exceptions in this so I don't you know you may you may say yourself wait, I'm a creative and I don't really follow this but let's pick a couple of characters that that that that fault that hang together one of the characteristics of really creative people is they tend to be very open to experience, okay? They tend to be moderately conscientious, conscientious enoughto actually follow through on projects that they're doing, but not so conscientious that they feel the need to follow every rule. They tend to be moderately agreeable, not very agreeable. Okay, um and and they also tend to be, uh hi on another dimension that we're going to talk about in the next unit that's called need for cognition and the reason for this combination it is because you need to have people who are really interested in, um in new things willing to think about those new things and internalize them and understand them a little bit more. Um, but you don't want to be too agreeable because if you're highly agreeable, then you just accept every new thing and so that's an interesting thing you want to open this to experience just says, am I willing to consider something new? Agreeableness is the degree to which you're actually going to be willing to be critical of that new thing and and when you're going to be creative, you need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, right? You need to figure out, yeah, this was an interesting idea, but it's not gonna work right? So from a creative standpoint, you get people who have that kind of profile and I'll talk about a few other profiles for example, people who tend to be good managers um and some other things in the in the next section. Yes. So given this big five, how do we, uh, extrapolate that two labels that we might be used to, like taipei or alfa male things like that? Is it relevant to, um, yeah, eso so ah, lot of times what we're talking about when we provide some of those those labels are particular characteristics that that that seemed toe hang together. Uh, so, you know, I mean, it's hard to know whether the alfa male is a really thing or whether you know, or whether we're just, you know, sort of picking labels for particular individuals, but but, you know, the typical alfa male is reasonably high and extra version that is, someone who is is really does want to be in that center of attention not, you know, somewhat agreeable, but not necessarily, you know, incredibly agreeable, not particularly emotionally stable, right? Because the alfa male really buy, you know, one of the ways of dominating things by having a tremendous amount of energy that could be backslapping kind of energy, or it could be real angry kind of energy, right? So those are some of the characteristics of that sort of quintessential uh alfa male as far as you know, the type a personality is a kind of an interesting one right? The type a person tends to be really conscientious because they want to make sure that they get stuff done they also tend to be somewhat low and emotional stability right? Because you you can't do that the whole point of the taipei is you want to get stuff done, but you're also got a lot of energy driven to do that right? So so we do get these characteristics that that will hang together and then sometimes we'll put labels on them if we think that that might be useful for, you know, for diagnosing something and by the way, these big five are sort of the biggest sources of variation across people, but they're not the on ly personality dimensions and in fact the next segment after this we're going to introduce you to ah, another siri's of dimensions that are really important for things like being creative and for the workplace and for your daily lives and so that's why we're going out, we're going to introduce some additional ones later. Now um one of the things I don't want to do is to talk a little bit while we're on the topic of something like creativity is talk a little bit about the concept of brainstorming this is another one of my soap boxes um, which is that? It turns out that that brainstorming is doesn't work uh s so so we often get groups together to generate ideas, and brainstorming is actually the name of a specific technique that was developed by a guy named alex osborn in the nineteen fifties and osborn was, you know, not not a psychologist, just a business guy who was trying to come up with it with a set of rules that you could use to help people to generate new ideas mohr effectively, and so what he did was to lay out what seemed like an intuitively reasonable procedure for generating ideas, so the idea was like let's get a group people together, everyone should throw out what they're thinking of don't really put any constraints on it don't worry about how wild the idea is, everybody should hold their criticism back at the beginning and just let the ideas flow and then really build on the ideas that other people have, you know, the more ideas you can get, the better. All right? So that was that was really and if you think about when you brainstorm with a group of people that's, more or less what you're doing, whether you knew that alex osborn calling the phrase or not okay, so it's really pervaded this society now starting in the nineteen sixties psychologist began to say, so does it work right. And so they would get people together, and they would run experiments where someone people would get together in a group and use the traditional method of brainstorming. And then what they would do is compare that performance with the performance of an equivalent number of people who were asked to generate ideas on that topic. But working alone. And the question is, who did better? And the answer wass um, that the people working alone generated more ideas and more good ideas than the people who work together in a group. Okay, consistently. And this has come to be known as productivity loss in brainstorming. Okay, so there's actually a whole name for this in the field. Now, why does this happen? Why do we have productivity loss in brainstorming? Because ask yourself, who is the first person to speak in a group? The first person to speak is the extroverts who wants to be the center of attention. I've got a good idea and they throw something out. Now, being an extra vert is completely un correlated with having good ideas. Now, that's not to say that extra protect bad ideas it's just not related. The extra it might have had a good idea. It might have been a bad idea, but here's the thing as soon as somebody throws out an idea. It influences the memory of everybody else in the room remember yesterday we played that little game where I said for the next fifteen seconds don't think of white elephants, all right? Well, soon as I say don't think of white elephants all you can think of his white elephants same thing happens with the first idea that gets thrown out in brainstorming as soon as somebody throws out an idea it influences what everybody else in the room is thinking about constrains the range of ideas that people are thinking about and so when you're trying to generate brain ah good brain storming in a group that is when you want to get a good group idea generation, what you want to do is to think about a simple principle, which is when people work alone, then they tend to be really good at diverging at coming up with lots of different ideas and when groups get together, what groups are good at is converging at finding a common way of thinking about something. You know, we talked about this idea of groupthink where a group comes to think of things in a similar way that's not necessarily a bad thing it's useful for an organisation to be on the same page every once in a while, so when you're trying to get people to generate ideas, whenever you need to diverge, get everybody working alone and when you want to converge, bring the group together so start the process of brainstorming start the process of idea generation by having everyone in the group generate ideas all by themselves and on lee then get everyone together and even then passed those ideas around to everyone and let everyone build on those ideas and add their thoughts to them and on lee after everyone has generated ideas and built on the ideas of other people do you then get together and have everyone consider the range of suggestions that came in and picked the ones that they think are most promising and this way you diverges individuals and converges a group now um here's the thing so so part of what this means is and we're going to talk at the very end of tomorrow about defining problems you want to define problems as a group because the group needs to be in agreement about what problem it is that's being solved you then want to generate ideas individually broaden those ideas individually and then discuss when you're trying to converge on a final solution and you need to make sure that you work with the people in the group teo work with their personalities so for example, if you have somebody who has grilli great expertise but they tend to be kind of closed to experience then you want to walk up to them before the brainstorming session and say look I know this is gonna be hard for you. I know that you're gonna really just not like every idea right off the bat because it's not because it's new I want you to count to ten before you object and ask yourself, am I objecting because there's a flaw? Oram I objecting because it's different right? And just help that person to see that they might be uncomfortable with something just because they don't like new things. You got to find your disagreeable people write and tell them you're going to hate this because I don't want you to really criticize at the beginning. I want you to give every idea an opportunity to grow before you cut it down and tell everybody we need your skill is a critic, we're going to need it, but what we want you to do is to wait until we've really modified the ideas as much as possible and then release the crackin okay, that's, the moment at which you want to find every flaw in an idea, you know, need those disagreeable people to really tear things apart before they get implemented so that you don't go down a path that's destined for failure, but give everyone a chance to be build on it before you tear it down because it might turn out that if you give people enough opportunity to really wow work through an idea they might actually find solutions to a lot of the obvious potential flaws, so you want to give every opportunity for these ideas to grow, so make sure those disagreeable people don't have their influence on the group until very late in the process and uh and those extroverts you know you need toe you need toe may remind them in the group setting that you know, it's cool to be out there in front of everybody, but you do want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to be heard. Now, one of the reasons you do a lot of this stuff individually generating the ideas and broad ing them is that those introverts have had a lot of input on which ideas were generated and how they got built upon. But in the group situation when when you are finally converging on something, you don't necessarily want those people who like to be the center of attention to be running the show right, you want to give everyone still an opportunity to discuss, um which ideas have the most promise? Um another thing that I want to talk about just really quickly is this issue of just happiness in life, so remember that that our personality characteristics are relatively stable across the life span they've created a lot of habits in us, which means that if I am in a way a work environment that causes me tow act against my personality, you know, that's going to make me uncomfortable. And I have to recognize that just like moving to a new house makes you uncomfortable working in a place that goes against your personality is going to make you uncomfortable. Does that mean that you should never do anything that goes against your personality? No, you can develop new habits, but you are fighting a slightly uphill battle. You are you are working against what your motivational system wants to do by default, and you need to recognize that. Okay, so part of what that means is if you find yourself really feeling inauthentic at work like you can't be the real you at work, ask yourself to what degree is that? Because I am forced to do things on a daily basis at work that just aren't who I am. And if that's the case, you know, ask yourself, are you are you willing to do it right? Um, it may very well be wake up one day and you think to yourself, you know what? This isn't me, right? I mean, you know, you could wake up and think to yourself, you know what, I'm good at it, I could make money at this, but this isn't who I am and that's the time at which, you know you can take the big step sometimes of making a career change because you realize you know what? I'm not being true to myself in the work place because my workplace is forcing me to do a lot of things that are not deeply in keeping with my own personality characteristics okay, now the very last thing I want to do here before we kind of summarizes I want to say a few words about the myers briggs type indicator the bt I now those of you who have never heard about the nbt I before please plug your ears with some wax because I don't want to be the one that sullied your experience, but if you've heard of the nbt I then I have to say a couple of things about it what I really want to say about the nbt eyes don't use it okay um the myers briggs type indicator was created in the nineteen forties, it emerged out of some people who were really enamored of union psychology and the union archetypes young was in awesome towering figure early in the history of psychology. But, you know, like freud, there was a lot less science behind it than there was sort of sheer force of observation and and so it doesn't really didn't really stand the test of time as a ce faras data go now if you take the myers briggs, there are these four dimensions extra version introversion sensing intuition thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving and when you take the nbt I you get a four letter code that goes with you so you'll sometimes see for example, on peepers people's twitter profiles that I'm an I'm an e n t j l s m ft or something so um so you get these four letters okay that are supposed to represent who you are um never used the bt I why? Okay, there are several reasons for this. First of all you'll notice on the nbt I there are only four dimensions and I just told you that really from a scientific standpoint there were five that that really makes sense the extra version dimension of of the of the myers briggs is somewhat correlated with extra version the openness dimension is correlated with this sensing intuition dimension the the other dimensions aren't that well correlated so so the thinking feeling the judging perceiving are sort of moderately but very low correlation with agreeableness and conscientiousness there's absolutely nothing related to emotional stability in the n b t I so it's uh it's just not quite the right view of the universe, but the most important problem with the m b t I is that it forces everyone to categorize themselves even though you can get a score out of it at the end of the day everyone gets those four letters and that's what they remember and so if you're an e you walk around the world going I'm in e I mean even though remember you know you're all filled out that personality inventory and hopefully you got the pdf so you filled out that personality inventory when when you did that you were probably in the middle a little bit and now I forced you to be on one side or the other so you're gonna walk around the world thinking that you're more extreme than you really are and that's that's kind of a problem so I recommend to people I think purse I think understanding your personality is really important and if the myers briggs is your gateway drug into personality inventories then that's great but let's get on to the harder stuff here so unlike you know, the typical were advice about drugs let's let's use this is a gateway into learning something a little bit mohr scientifically valid about our personality and so having if you've got your four letter code great now take a big five inventory and learn about where you fall in the big five learn about some of these other dimensions and really use that as a way of beginning to understand yourself a little bit better so you know don't be ashamed of having taken the nbt I know everyone's got to start somewhere but but but now it's time to move on, so let me summarize here, but if there were any questions that came up in this section, either from you folks here from people at home will take those sometime during the next section because we're going to be continuing our discussion of personality. But what we did here in the first hour and a half of our day was we talked a little bit about the big five personality dimensions, the um and we talked about what those dimensions are and how they influence our lives if you didn't get a chance to take that quiz yet, please try and do that. So you get to know a little bit more about yourself remember that you are most likely to be comfortable in situations that match your personality characteristics because your personality characteristics are a reflection of how your motivational system wants to approach the world, okay? And, uh, and it's developed a lot of habits in you, and so you need to recognize the influence of those habits on your own life but also begin to use this to understand the people around you understand why it is that the people around you differ from you so that you could begin to understand why it is that not everybody does the things that you expected them to dio because they actually differ from you along these particular dimensions and, uh, and so that's, where we went so far, stick around, because in the next section, we're going to be talking about some or advanced personality characteristics, and we're going to return to the question of what is it that characterizes me? So we'll talk more about what is it that makes us more creative? What is it that makes us better at being a manager? What is it that might make us a good engineer or a bad one? And things like that?