Monday, July 14, 2014

Personality Profiles - The "Mall Map" of Secular Psychology

The shopping mall.  Those bastions of retail commerce and chain franchises.  Consumerist wonderlands that dotting the country from Los Angeles to New York.

Although I don't make it a habit to frequent such bastions of retail commerce and chain franchises, I've been in a few here and there.  I've been to some of the smaller ones growing up in my home town, I've visited them here and there as the need arose living wherever we were, and I've even been in some of the larger ones in the United States while travelling on business. 

I am by no means a "Mall Expert", but I have noticed a few things that are common to all of them.

One feature they all share are both unavoidable and ubiquitous. Sometimes a simple sheet of plastic, sometimes a lighted kiosk, and sometimes a full-blown interactive multimedia experience.

The map. Those indispensable visual vanguards that lay out every store, restraint, exit, stairwell, restroom, and every other highlight or point of interest contained in those gilded walls.  (And, if you find a really good one, they may even give you the infinitely helpful "You are here" marker).  They can be immensely helpful to determine your position in relation to landmarks and shops; they show you where you can go, but lack one very important piece of information, (but we'll get to that later...)

I've recently completed a class on an introduction to psychology.  It was quite interesting to hear many of the theories of behavior and the people and historical events and popular ideas that influenced them.  (It was really interesting to compare and contrast what was being taught to the teachings of the Gospel, especially Elder Maxwell's thoughts on the Gospel and behavioral sciences).

One of the topics that was covered was the study of personality and personality development.  The class  reviewed the different theories and aspects of personalities and personality development, as well as talking about the authors of the different approaches and the historical and academic background that may have influenced them and their ideas. 

One of the last sections was talking about the methods and tests that have been developed to assess
and categorize personality and personality traits.  We covered shallow but broad overview of the major types of personality tests and their pluses / minuses from Rorschach inkblots to Myers-Briggs  Inventories.  There are many more that I've seen or heard about dealing with colors, or seasons, or "Which Disney movie are you" or other such things that pop-up on Facebook here and there. I've taken a few of these before, some as part of corporate team-building exercises, some as related to different activities in academic circles, some as part of career counseling and job searches, and some just out of curiosity.  They all seem to be somewhat accurate and highlight traits that I have noticed in myself, or patterns of behaviors that I have seen in myself, (although didn't always tell the whole story).  It has also been interesting to compare with others that I took the same test with and see how accurate theirs was compared to things I have seen in them.

Some of the tests included not just traits, but suggestions for what activities or interests someone with that personality may find an interest it, or situations that the personality profile may succeed in or find difficulty with.  The information was interesting, and in some instances aligned with what I had noticed as common to people with the identified personality types.  Something, however, was missing, and although I haven't done a totally exhaustive search of all these different tests and assessments, didn't seem to be common among them.