The Situationist

What Our Exterior Situation Reveals About Our Interior Situation

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 2, 2008

ABC’s Nightline had a nice piece on Sam Gosling and his new book, Snoop. Sharyn Alfonsi and Eileen Murphy wrote a piece, excerpted below, “The Secrets in Your Stuff What Your Home or Office Reveals About Your Personality, Voting Patterns and More.” Their article, among other things, takes the reader into the office of Situaitionist contributor John Jost.

* * *

The first thing Gosling does is sit down in a space and look around, “giving the salient items time to fade away a bit, and the broader themes to come out.”

“Nightline” decided to test Gosling at the office of his friend and colleague, John Jost, at New York University. The fellow psychologist didn’t mind Gosling’s snooping and said that while he tidied up his office beforehand, he didn’t do any major organizing.

Gosling went through drawers, examined pictures, checked the status of office supplies and analyzed the position of Jost’s desk — all providing clues to Jost’s personality.

The goal, Gosling said, is to “look at the big picture. And look for themes. Because any single item could be misleading. There could be something here that really doesn’t reflect what the occupant is like. It’s just there because it’s for a teaching demonstration, or a gift for somebody else, or things that aren’t really important, or somebody else left it there.”

He won’t make a judgment about Jost solely based on the fact that he has a book in his office called “Why Men Rebel.”

“It should be one piece of the puzzle,” he said. “It could reflect many different things, you know? There are many different reasons you might have that. So we have to try to narrow down the likely reasons you have that.”

Gosling noted that Jost’s office is “pretty organized,” and said that he can tell a lot from someone’s music collection. Jost has a lot of classic rock.

“So people who like rock, they tend to be higher on openness,” Gosling said. “And also people who like classical … and jazz, actually.”

On the other hand, he also said that “people who like rock tend to be lower on conscientiousness, so looking at this, I’d have to combine that with my other rating saying that he was higher on conscientiousness. So it’s all a puzzle, you’re always combining bits of information here.”

The contents of someone’s office can even indicate how he might vote, according to Gosling, who said that Jost’s openness trait would align him with “people who vote for liberal candidates.”

And indeed, Jost said he is a liberal and is planning to vote for Barack Obama.

“I think Sam is an excellent personality psychologist and a very perceptive person,” Jost said. “And I think he would get at least an A-, maybe an A.”

* * *

To read the entire article, click here. For a related Situationist post, check out “The Situation of Ideology – Part I” and “The Situation of Ideology – Part II.” Image by romanlily on Flickr.

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One Response to “What Our Exterior Situation Reveals About Our Interior Situation”

  1. [...] What Our Exterior Situation Reveals About Our Interior Situation, [...]

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