Friday, November 27, 2020

How to tell if you know someone well

To know someone in passing is to know what they’re passionate about. To know someone well is to know what annoys them.

What's the evidence for that? This 2011 study:

There are lots of ways to know someone's personality. You can say "she's an extrovert" or "she's usually happy." You may also know how he or she reacts to different situations and other people's behavior. "It's a more detailed way of understanding personality," says Charity A. Friesen, a graduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, who co-wrote the new paper with Lara K. Kammrath. "You might know the person is extroverted when they're out with their friends but more introverted when they're in a new situation." When a person is faced with one of a list of situations, then how does he or she behave? Friesen identifies this as an "if-then profile."

Friesen and Kammrath recruited university students to take part in the study. Each student was asked to get a friend to participate in the study with them. Then each of the participants individually filled out an online survey. This included a list of "triggers"--descriptions of behaviors that someone might find annoying. One example was the word "skepticism" which was described as when someone is overly disbelieving of information that he/she receives, when he/she questions things that are generally accepted, or when he/she is very hard to convince of something. The list also included gullibility, social timidity, social boldness, perfectionism, obliviousness and several dozen other possible triggers. For each behavior, each respondent answered a question about how much this triggers them and how much it triggers their friend.

Some people knew their friends' triggers well; others had almost no idea what set their friends off.… People who had more knowledge of their friend's if-then profile of triggers had better relationships. They had less conflict with the friend and less frustration with the relationship.

Other research has shown that it's not that hard to come up with a list of traits that describe someone; casual acquaintances can do it. "But, if I'm close to someone, I can really start to learn the if-then profiles, and that's what's going to pay off in my relationship," Friesen says.

(I blogged about the same point from that study in 2011.)

irritated model

(Photo by Robert Couse-Baker under Creative Commons license.)

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Joe Biden's first speech as President-Elect

"We've won with the most votes ever cast for a presidential ticket in the history of the nation: 74 million. Well, I must admit it surprised me: tonight, we've seen all over this nation … indeed across the world, an outpouring of joy, of hope, renewed faith that tomorrow will bring a better day."


"I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. And what presidents say in this battle matters. It's time for our better angels to prevail. Tonight, the whole world is watching America… We will lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example." 

Biden is never perfect. He's a little rough. But it was refreshing to watch this video and know we can look forward to the day very soon when this is what it sounds like for the president to speak to America (and the world) — finally, someone who cares about basic decency.

Today is a great day for America.

America to Trump: You're fired!

Congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. (Washington Post link)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Trump thinks…

Trump thinks covid-19 wouldn't be such a big problem if they had stopped taking so many tests. 

Trump thinks he would've won the election if they had stopped counting the votes. 

Notice a pattern?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Why I voted for Biden — and against Trump

Back in the olden days of February 2020, after the first Democratic primary contests and before any Americans had died of the coronavirus, I wrote a post in response to someone on Facebook who asked who we’d vote for if the nominees were Trump and Bernie Sanders.

I explained why I’d vote for the Democrat even though he wasn’t my first choice in the primaries. What I wrote still applies now that the nominee is Joe Biden.

And that was before Trump’s inept, disingenuous, and reckless response to the pandemic, which has only strengthened my support for Biden.

So here’s an adaptation of what I said in February but with Biden’s name:

I don’t need to decide whether Biden will be a better president than Trump, in order to choose Biden over Trump. There’s something larger at stake, which is the need to send a message to the world and to history: “Whoops! We screwed up in 2016. We need a different tone and direction.”

If Trump is a two-term president, he’ll appear to have a halo 😇 in retrospect. People assume that Obama and Reagan were great presidents, whether or not they really were. One-term presidents who lose their reelection bids are generally seen as failures and footnotes to history, whether or not that’s deserved.

Making Trump a one-term president will have positive ripple effects that could last for decades, far beyond the next administration. It will change the thinking of future presidential candidates. It will change how the Trump administration is presented in history books.

In contrast, making Trump a two-term president will legitimize the idea that the president should sink to the lowest common denominator in his rhetoric, and try to close off America from other countries through his policies.

We need to make Trump a one-term president. We already know what we need to know about President Trump, and we have only one more chance to act on that knowledge. We don’t yet know what President Biden would be like, but if he turns out to be bad, we’ll be able to deal with that problem in other elections.

I don’t need to love Biden in order to vote for him. As others have said: voting isn’t a valentine, it’s a chess move.

(Photo of Biden by Gage Skidemore, via Wikipedia.)