So much (all?) of the study of psychology is an effort to make the hidden revealed. It is an attempt to understand what is occurring under the covers, to struggle to see that which is not immediately visible to the naked eye. Great thought is given in the field to develop ways to tease out the hidden, with an emphasis placed on methods where something abstract can be placed in front of the individual and conclusions drawn from the way the individual interprets/sees it.
In our day to day lives, seeing in others what is not immediately visible to the naked eye typically requires enough repetition that we discern a pattern. For example it may take a number of instances spread across multiple weeks to realize that your co-worker Bob is a Negative Nellie, or that Sarah is a genuinely pleasant human being.
I want to suggest an idea about human psychology, that, when thoroughly understood, may offer us an opportunity to shortcut the normal repetition we might require to identify the ‘hidden’. For example, if normally it takes, say ten instances of Bob making a negative comment to identify him as a Negative Nellie, a thorough understanding of this concept may shortcut that to, say four instances. The danger here is that we become too quick to draw conclusions about others so it is suggested that we look out for straying too far to the quick judgment side too.
The Interpretation of the Five Senses Helps Inform Who We Are Dealing With
The concept is this: Both what and how the five senses see/hear/smell/taste/touch is it itself a Rorschach test. By that I mean, virtually everything in life is itself neutral, how we interpret neutral events says a great deal about who we are and what matters to us.
Take the example of Joan who, after the ‘standard’ ten instances of exposure you notice consistently ‘sees’ (and comments on) other people’s clothing and jewelry. Dave, consistently ‘hears’ people insulting him, while Jon notices acts of kindness. Neutral events that announce the ‘Rorschach test’ characteristics of the five senses.
Living, Breathing Rorschach Tests
Understanding that the five senses are actually Rorschach tests in action is not likely to give us instantaneous and complete understanding of others, but viewing others’ output through the lens of ‘the five senses as a Rorschach Test’ will enable us to draw conclusions about who we are dealing with more rapidly and more thoroughly than before.
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- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran