I saw this picture in my Twitter feed and immediately thought of Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling and the OCEAN personality traits. Just look at all the flags, banners, and signs! Surely, such a display says more about the occupant than I’m a conservative racist asshat who has shooting a black person or some liberal hippie commie pinko punk dead on his bucket list, right? Indeed, it does.
Gosling’s research has focused on using the way that personal space is kept and maintained to interpret your personality using the Big Five Personality Traits otherwise known as OCEAN. He argued that our personal space had residue from our personality. Clues as to the way we related to and interacted with the world. That part seems reasonable, but he found that maintaining your space in certain ways correlated with certain personality traits.
Most people think that it is impossible because you can always clean up and hide your dirty underwear when your mom comes over. And, we can. But, if we get a glimpse of the way you live in the space, we can get some insight into your personality. Pretty cool, hunh?
Let’s demonstrate it with this asshat, okay? To demonstrate it, though, we’ll need to discuss some aspects of personality, the Big Five Personality Traits, and Gosling’s Snoopology, which is sounding like a lot for a blog post. Luckily, I’ve already addressed most of the personality issues and personality traits in The OCEAN of Trump and Clinton’s Personality from four years ago! Check it out.
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Let’s begin our discussion by taking the ever popular Forer Personality Test. Eighty-five percent of takers think it is very accurate! So, go on, click on the link and take the test. We’ll wait. It is only 16 multiple-choice questions followed by 24 yes-or-no questions. And for added fun, put your results in the comments. I know I’ll be putting mine there!
It seems that writers of Teen Beat, Buzzfeed, and Facebook apps have all focused on the trait aspects of personality. You know, if you have dense body hair, then you belong to Slytherin, but are kind. That kind of cookbook match game approach. Most all of what you find in the popular literature is complete bunk including the ubiquitous Myers-Briggs and The Enneagram tests. They are no better than zodiac, horoscopes, and palm readers. High on entertainment value, low on actual usefulness and accuracy.
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For what it is worth, traits are a pretty good approach. Traits are those aspects of our personality that define how we react to the world. A good familiar example is extroversion versus introversion.
The problem with the trait approach is that it is very shallow, meaning traits don’t tell us very much about the person. Okay, you’re introverted or extroverted. I probably could’ve picked that up in the first few minutes of talking to you. See what I mean? Dan McAdams developed The Narrative Theory of Personality to address that. For McAdams there are three levels of personality. The first level consists of dispositional traits or the kind of traits addressed above and by the Big Five Personality Traits. Second are characteristic adaptations or the ways that people change depending on the situation they’re in. It incorporates what social psychologists call situationalism. They include motives, values, and interests. And third is the integrative life story of the person. This level is true intimacy where you know details about the person’s life and back ground. It is what gives a person’s life its meaning.
The Big Five Personality Traits
The Big Five Personality Traits are widely agreed upon to appear in all cultures aournd the world. For more on how they were developed, see The OCEAN of Trump’s and Clinton’s Personalities. These are the five: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
- O is for openness as in open to new ideas, experiences, and concepts. The opposite is being closed or resistant to new experiences or ways of thinking.
- C is for conscientiousness as in aware of the needs of others and willing to accommodate them or as I like to call it, polite. The other end of the spectrum is being very unaware of the needs of others, or rude.
- E is for extrovert as in enjoying the company and presences of many others. Introverted is the other extreme.
- A is for agreeableness as in having “good” relations with others is very important to you. And not caring about your relationships with others is being disagreeable, I guess.
- N is for neuroticism as in volatile emotions and easily upset. The other end of the continuum is having stable emotions.
To find out where you stand, take the test! I’ll show you my scores if you show me yours! In the comments, of course.
Just for fun, can you place the yard decorator on any of these just based on the decorations in his or her yard? Take a swing at it and let us know in the comments, okay? This is what makes Snoopology so much fun! You can place the yard decorator and everyone else on those traits just by looking at the spaces they maintain! Fun!
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Over Gosling’s thirty-year career, he has matched his conclusions to the results of various Big Five Personality Trait tests, self-assessments, and the assessments of friends and family.
Gosling has determined that clues fit into two broad categories: self and other directed. Self-directed clues are those that are meant to reinforce our view of ourselves to ourselves. Other-directed, create an impression of us on the viewer. Take family pictures found on many office workers’ desks as an example. If they face the office worker, she’s reminding herself that she is a wife and mother; facing visitors, she’s telling them that. See?
There are clues that result from neglect: the organizing files and labels that we buy intending to organize our lives, but never get around to using or the plants that we let die. Like my grandfather always said, The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Seeing those clues tells you something about the person who let it happen.
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Take another look at the picture and answer these questions:
- Are the flags, banners, and signs directed at the decorator or passersby?
- Are there aspects of the yard that resulted from neglect?
The flags, images of flags, and banners on display:
- There are at least 26 American flags. One flag in the yard says, I’m a patriot and love our country. Twenty-six is overkill.
- There are 15 Confederate battle flags on display. One might say, I’m a proud white Southerner, but 15 is making an emphatic statement.
- I don’t know what the black-and-white American flags are, but I think they are related to Q-Anon.
- I can’t read the yellow assault-rifle banner.
- Contrast these flag displays with the one North Carolina flag on the yard sign. They are not trying to ram their identity as a North Carolinian down your throat as they are their American-hood, rebel-ness, and conspiracy theories, right?
There are a couple of other things to note: There are Halloween decorations on the stoop. The tree in the yard was cut back, allowed to resprout, and used to host decorations. The rock garden has grass growing in it. And, the grass in the yard is a unkempt.
Applying Goslings findings leads us to these conclusions:
Openness: Gosling found that conservative iconography suggested being closed to new ideas and experiences – no surprise there. And, the sheer number of the decorations strongly suggests a lack of openness, too.
Conscientiousness: Neatness, according to Gosling, indicated conscientiousness; it helped guests and visitors feel welcome and at ease. Unless you’re a gun-toting, racist, conservative, that won’t be the case here. The state of the rock garden and the yard also suggests a lack of concern for the feeling and welfare of others.
Extroversion: Gosling found that variety correlated with extroversion. Clearly no variety here. Probably somewhat introverted at least.
Agreeableness: “Pleasant” decorations indicate agreeableness: a belief in getting along. My guess is that this person doesn’t give a flying fuck about getting along with anyone other than himself. But, that’s a guess.
Neuroticism: An excessive number of identity claims – items that clarify beliefs and details about someone’s perception of themselves – correlate with high levels of neuroticism. I’m guessing this person is easily upset and somewhat emotionally volatile if they are emotional at all. I’d expect them not to take suggestions to wear a mask quietly! A visible hijab will probably get a reaction, too.
Snooping is fun and exciting and can save you from dating relationships that are doomed to fail, bad hires, and all kinds of maladies related to personality. It is also a way to impress friends and families and pick up chicks – what girl doesn’t go weak in the knees over an accurate cold read? You could be just like that jerk on Psych, Sherlock Holmes, or the Mentalist – he at least was a little more likeable.
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The image was first encountered on @LongTimeAmy’s Twitter feed as well as other places on social media platforms. It’s provenance and license are unknown. I will remove the image if so requested by the owner.