Monday, April 10, 2006

Inside the Mind

One of the things I do "for a living" is run participants in psychology experiments. For my own research, one of the things I have the participants do is a creativity task in which they come up with as many ideas as they can based on a sentence or drawing (e.g. think of as many unusual uses for tin cans as you "can" ). Today, one of my participants, after having been read the instructions and told they can begin, just sat there. He didn't write anything; rather, he chose to just stare off into space.

It's not like it's a hard task or that it reveals sensitive information. I think it'd be pretty fun to do. Even if it wasn't fun, it's gotta beat sitting in a chair doing absolutely nothing. This made me realize that I have no idea what was going through this guy's mind. I will never understand what it's like to be him. We're both human beings, but when put in a situation like my experiment, he would choose to sit and do nothing, while I can't even fathom why anyone would do that.

This realization was kinda cool, because it means that my branch of psychology (personality: examining differences between people rather than similarities) is worthwhile. It may seem obvious that people differ in important ways, but when you read countless articles describing how humans, in general, work, you start to think that everyone is pretty much the same.

A few weeks ago another participant told me I look like a movie star. "The one where they go in his head", said the participant. Damn...he meant John Malkovich. I like Malkovich as an actor 'n all, but he's not the most attractive guy.

I think that if someone looks like a celebrity, you should only point out the resemblence if the celebrity is considered attractive. No matter how much a girl looks like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show (see left), you should not tell her that. You'd probably make her cry.

I don't think I look like John Malkovich too much. I mean, we're both going bald, but the resemblence ends there. Or does it? Here is a test: is this photograph of me or of John Malkovich?

Hint: I've never posed like that in my life.

Stupid participant.


Jason said...

I think it's interesting that he just sat there. I guess you couldn't tell him that there were going to be a series of "small shocks" to encourage his participation.

Jason said...

BTW, I look like Mimi.

Anonymous said...

"One of the things I do "for a living" is run participants in psychology experiments."

Liar. You rob the elderly.

Anonymous said...

haha. john malkovich. he's attractive... in a distinguished/weirdo sorta way. don't cry.

that is totally interesting how that guy just didn't care. I would be trying to come up with all sorts of crazy and wonderful things to try to impress you and do "well". I'm an overachiever anyway, and I don't want to let John Malkovich down.

Phronk said...

Jimmy: I thought of you as I was writing the part about Mimi. I figured it would be hypocritical to mention it though.

Bee: I am a liar (see my profile pic here). But I don't rob old people...I EAT THEM.

Sarah: Yeah, that makes me feel a lot better. Looking like a distinguished weirdo is great. Yup.

But yeah, I'd be coming up with all sorts of things. Psychology experiments are one of the only places where you can blab revealing things about yourself and someone will actually listen.

Jason said...

I want pad thai now.

Anonymous said...

You should have just given him shock therapy and called it a day.

When I used to run experiments in university, I thought that would be far better than testing for social stigmas, as I was IRB approved to do.

Phronk said...

I have an old shock machine on display at home. I've never tested to see if it still works (any volunteers?), but I guess it's proof that psychologists really have used shocks in the past. Ghostbusters-style.

Unknown said...

I don't think it's so bad *looking* like Malkovich, in comparison to harbouring his extremely questionable, Zionist opinions. Can't say I appreciate his tendency to spout mindless death threats, as a reaction to those that may disagree with him.

Phronk said...

I wasn't aware of Malkovich's radical philosophy, but I'll be sure to avoid disagreeing with him if he ever holds a lookalike contest and I win a date with him.