They’re all around us, yet few people are looking for them. Perhaps that’s all for the best, since people reveal much more information about themselves then they would like.
Have you ever been in a classroom when someone asked a seemingly innocuous, but out-of-the-box question? For a moment, you thought “that’s a strange question,” but shifted your focus to the professor’s answer and didn’t give it a second thought. Well, if you’re in the business of reading and profiling individuals, this question opened a warehouse of information about that person. His interests, his focus, and at the very least, how he thinks about information and what he may have been concerned with for the past several minutes. He drew attention to himself with a question like that, so he’s not overly anxious about being front and center for a moment. He’s inquisitive, curious. Depending on the tone of the question, this may have come from a state of arrogance, intellect or naivety. These are all hypotheses worth testing, but you must first open your eyes, ears, and pay attention.
For the most part, we don’t often take note of these behaviors because we’re either too focused on ourselves, or we believe that most people think and act the way we do in the long run. I’m here to tell you, they don’t. In fact, personality psychologists have uncovered at least 30 major dimensions of personality that differ among individuals, and take different forms and names depending on the theoretical orientation of the psychologist.
These include dimensions such as modesty, curiosity, and sociability, and span across the entire realm of human experience to describe specific interests, attitudes, and behavior. Do you have to memorize them all to read people well? No, you can leave that to those of us who profile for a living. But, it may be valuable for you to understand how these characteristics relate to each other, and that is where Character Entry Points are important.
Strictly speaking, Character Entry Points or CEPs describe any observable interest, behavior, attitude or expression set that lends itself to significant prediction of another categorically distinct and meaningful set. CEPs may technically include those out-of-the-box questions discussed earlier, but we at Behavioral Research Group (BRG) look at a standard set of common descriptions or adjectives that are easily observed yet have powerful implications on our understanding of a given person. Have we lost you yet? Let’s break it down for you with an example.
Say a new co-worker will be joining your team. Often you may have a short bio of that person or learn some playful facts about them in the first couple days. You may learn that this new co-worker likes sky diving, rollercoasters, and white water rafting. Is this meaningful?
At BRG, we code this as a sign of Adventurousness (ADV), and people with this profile are characterized by an interest or need to seek stimulation, activity and adventure to keep entertained and alert. But, ADV is also a CEP, which means we may learn a lot more about this co-worker than simply their attitudes toward amusement parks. For one, individuals with this profile tend to have a wide variety of interests, are more likely to enjoy being part of a loud crowd, and see themselves as daring. These individuals are also assertive, not afraid to express their opinions. They don’t see themselves as conventional or risk averse, and push through adversity and frustration to get what they want. ADV individuals may see themselves as clever and charming, and may have the tendency to be flirtatious and see situations in sexual terms. In addition to being “adventurous,” adjectives that tend to describe these individuals include active, assertive, outgoing, confident, competitive, energetic, imaginative, unrestrained, spontaneous, worldly, thrill-seeking, ambitious, pleasure-seeking, and spirited. These individuals are not likely to describe themselves as conventional, habitual, reserved, defeatist, quiet, sensitive, and risk-averse. Knowing this, can you begin to imagine how they may or may not act in the workplace, what other interests they may have, whether they’ll push for that promotion, or if they’ll enjoy or dread the next company party? You should be able to make some educated guesses.
If you’re adventurous yourself, or know many who are, you may feel that the description above is not completely accurate. To be fair, we rarely profile individuals based on only one characteristic. Nonetheless, it is easy to see how additional information about someone can quickly begin to paint an accurate picture or, at the very least, suggest the presence of characteristics that you can then confirm in other ways. As additional CEPs can be observed that consistently suggest certain attitudes, conclusions can begin to be drawn. In future posts, we will discuss the areas on which to focus when beginning a profile and what other CEPs may be important to look for.
Thanks for your interest! For the latest in news in behavioral research, visit us at: BehaviorInsight.com
Adam Troy, Ph.D.
Behavioral Research Group, LLC
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