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Thread: Science Daily: What You Say About Others Says a Lot About You, Research Shows Aug '10

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    Default Science Daily: What You Say About Others Says a Lot About You, Research Shows Aug '10

    What you say about others says a lot about you, research shows

    What You Say About Others Says a Lot About You, Research Shows



    ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2010) How positively you see others is linked to how happy, kind-hearted and emotionally stable you are, according to new research by a Wake Forest University psychology professor.

    "Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality," says Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest and lead author of the study, about his findings. By asking study participants to each rate positive and negative characteristics of just three people, the researchers were able to find out important information about the rater's well-being, mental health, social attitudes and how they were judged by others.

    The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Peter Harms at the University of Nebraska and Simine Vazire of Washington University in St. Louis co-authored the study.

    The researchers found a person's tendency to describe others in positive terms is an important indicator of the positivity of the person's own personality traits. They discovered particularly strong associations between positively judging others and how enthusiastic, happy, kind-hearted, courteous, emotionally stable and capable the person describes oneself and is described by others.

    "Seeing others positively reveals our own positive traits," Wood says.
    The study also found that how positively you see other people shows how satisfied you are with your own life, and how much you are liked by others.

    In contrast, negative perceptions of others are linked to higher levels of narcissism and antisocial behavior. "A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively," Wood says. "The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders." Given that negative perceptions of others may underlie several personality disorders, finding techniques to get people to see others more positively could promote the cessation of behavior patterns associated with several different personality disorders simultaneously, Wood says.

    This research suggests that when you ask someone to rate the personality of a particular coworker or acquaintance, you may learn as much about the rater providing the personality description as the person they are describing. The level of negativity the rater uses in describing the other person may indeed indicate that the other person has negative characteristics, but may also be a tip off that the rater is unhappy, disagreeable, neurotic -- or has other negative personality traits.

    Raters in the study consisted of friends rating one another, college freshmen rating others they knew in their dormitories, and fraternity and sorority members rating others in their organization. In all samples, participants rated real people and the positivity of their ratings were found to be associated with the participant's own characteristics.

    By evaluating the raters and how they evaluated their peers again one year later, Wood found compelling evidence that how positively we tend to perceive others in our social environment is a highly stable trait that does not change substantially over time.
    Kelly xx

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    Great article Kelly! And very timely! But i disagree on one point: you can be a charitable person, ie kind in your opinion of others... but still be neurotic... i am a case in point
    Last edited by Bathsheba; August 6th, 2010 at 03:11 PM.

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    Interesting article! I agree - you can tell huge amounts about people by the way they speak, respond about & to others. Defensiveness, reactivity, seeing the negative & ill intent in others is something that rings little bells for me personally.

    I guess for me it says that a person isn't self responsible or able to be balanced in approaches to others.

    I think we all have the ability (& exercise it!) - but being able to say: "gee whizz I was a bit silly" or whatever tells us that a person can be self regulating.

    I think most ofus knows how difficult it is to be around those who continually speak ill or negatively of others/situations.

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    I dunno. I see many people in a good light and like to think the best of people. But ask me to describe my SiL, my mum's sister or one other particular person I know... I would come out as a negative, nasty person!

    I am a ridiculously positive person most of the time, yet I still have toxic people in my life who I have tried for years in some cases to like and there is nothing positive or even polite I could say about them.

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    Ryn I think we all individually have toxic folk in our life (it's my belief that we invite them on a level to help us grow in the areas we need to - whole other thread!).
    I think personally the article is more about generally speaking how we see others and "take" their comments. We all know people where we have to watch very carefully how we word things for fear of attack or offense or upset. It's just hard work being around people that choose to "take" what is said as a personal affront. I reckon this article just points that out succinctly!

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    I never invited my BiL or SiL in, nor my aunt... can I kick them out of my life for trespassing then? LMAO, pretty please with a cherry on top? Family without evil, how great would that be?

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    It would be soooo great.

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    Good article but like all things like this you cannot take it as an absolute, there are variables here but for the purpose of the article of course they can't all be mentioned. It's an overall outlook but not the definitive in every social situation

    I can't stand toxic people. If I think you're toxic I'll be rid of you as soon as I can. But on the flip side I'm often the one that sees the nice in people where others do not So I hardly fit any mold. But like I said it's all relative. I know people who are extremely negative and judgmental of others and that is because they feel internally this way about themselves. Just as I know people who are continually sprouting self help and affirmations and it's because they themselves are quite damaged and need help. So in reality this is very true, but as I said just don't forget the variables.

    And Bath... is there anything wrong with being neurotic? I swear it's saved me many times LOL!

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    Rouge: totally nothing wrong with being neurotic! LOL If you didn't have neuroticism (hmm, my spell check isn't identifying that word) you wouldn't have half the interesting (and usually creative) people in this world! Think Tim Burton, think half the world's poets, artists and songwriters (Morrisey is a great example)! Maybe I/he/we still judge people harshly but we channel it in a more positive creative manner. So maybe instead of b*tching about your co-worker maybe people should write poems about them instead hehe!

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    Neurotic though by it's definition is defensive so that's a tough one Bath! Neurosis I believe is no longer used scientifically but was once defined as being unusually defensive, reactive, compulsive behaviors without halluciations etc. (short version)

    So I am not sure you really are neurotic!

    Rogue I guess not being able to stand toxic people is one way of seeing it - but then there has to be a judgement - a harsh one. Some can define toxicity as anything foreign to their own paradigm or way of thinking. Thus there is a fairly large sub section of toxicity! Is anyone just completely toxic? Perhaps they are but it could also be true that part of their behavior is toxic to different individuals.

    I personally find racisim toxic but there are plenty of racists that are very kind loving mothers, brothers, partners etc - hell they are even doing "good works" in the community. So that part is toxic (to me) but as a complete packet not so... YK?

    I think anyone who is negative and judgemental as you say is a reflection of their inner feelings - that is certainly a fairly well recognised thought. I know if I am feeling negative I react negatively outwardly. That's why I persomnally find it important to work on those feelings when they arise so I can minimise their projection on to others!

    As for "sprouting affirmations and positivity" & being damaged. I dom't think I've crossed paths with a human that isn't damaged. We all have our battle scars - to me if someone is turning to positivity and affirmation to work on that damage it can only be healthy! I think that we are not individual stones we are all connected with a cement that binds us. So any positivity that a damaged friend tries to heal with affirmation, meditation or positivity etc can only be positive.

    The more positively we speak, the more positivity we project the more we positively evolve. It's incredibly difficult to immerse yourself in a growthful journey and be bitter and angry and negative. Eventually if you continue you will grow more positive wings... I truly truly believe this. I have seen people completely bag out others for their "self help" & it is always the one doing the "self help" that flys in the end. That self help is different for us all. For some it will have a spiritual leaning, for some it will have emotional or historic connotations. But it's all good. WE are all different with different ways to learn that are best for us.

    I remember when I was younger, brasher and much less kind really bagging out a friend who got into Amway and began sprouting how everything was "amazing" and it's a "great day"... We all took the wee out of him.

    Well he is a successful man, with a gorgeous family, home, career and life - truly at peace with himself. That for him was the beginning of his journey to heal his damage that I think we all accumulate over the years... I remember feeling humbled and ashamed at my self importance at beliving he was being "programmed". Wehen really he was searching in his way - and it paid off.. (he didnt' stay with Amway it was just his beginning of growth)...

    I actually am intrigued by bitter people as it takes so much energy to always be on the watch out for being wronged, always believing in ulterior motives - it must be exhausting. But if I look I can learn why it's important to learn to let go and it just teaches me again how important that is (but also how dang hard it can be also)...

    We love to hold on to our stories of who we are. "I am a diviorced marriage failure", or I am an abused woman"... We can use that to preface who we are or use it to spring into newness. The same with our childhood pains. I have had so many but I can't hold on to them or they will eat me up - so I learned to let go. Hard hard stuff that probably took me 20years to do. It's my story but it doesn't define me any more or hold me in its grip. The uncle that raped me when I was a child had red head and a beard. Only now can I look at a man with a beard and not see his face. I remember the realisation of that hitting me and I just laughed and patted myself hard on the back for my "getting there"... But I am not sure any of us are ever "there". That is why judgement and standing in judgement of others worries me so much. Nobody can know anothers heart space truly. It's ours only.

    I remember when I was about 6 my dad was a Police Officer and a freaky man tried to adduct me... Long story. He didnt' as I fled and screamed and anyway he was caught. He wanted to "pay back" my dad. For years I held on to the story that people would take me. I realised a few years ago that I still held that story as I had an irrational fear of people taking my kids in the night. It was based on not healing that fear and freak out I had at 6!!!

    Anyway I just know that we are all damaged. We are all struggling. We have all suffered incredible pain that is all relative to us. I reckon with more love and understanding rather than disgust we can heal our society rather than it continue the way it is...

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    Oh Bath I love you LOL @ Poems. That's a great idea. But y'know I think some of the most neurotic people make the most thoughtful.

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    Awww Ta Rouge, likewise. And yep it's always a good thing to be a little reflective on how we are making our way through life. It worries me when I have dealings with non-reflective people or people who don't make the time (because they are always distracting themselves with constant music via ear plugs etc) or have the inclination to think about their interactions with others. And not to be too smug LOL but of course you (collective) can also be too reflective which i think forms the basis of my neuroticism. Thanks Inanna for your vote of confidence Maybe I should substitute the word "eccentric"? it's just that that sounds a bit too self indulgent... but I don't need to make this all about me again!


    This sprang to mind when I made the comment about writing poetry about people we struggle with:

    Franky Mr Shankly
    (The Smiths)

    Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I've held
    It pays my way, and it corrodes my soul
    I want to leave, you will not miss me
    I want to go down in musical history

    Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I'm a sickening wreck
    I've got the 21st century breathing down my neck
    I must move fast, you understand me
    I want to go down in celluloid history, Mr. Shankly


    Fame, Fame, fatal Fame
    It can play hideous tricks on the brain
    But still I'd rather be Famous
    Than righteous or holy, any day
    Any day, any day


    But sometimes I'd feel more fulfilled
    Making Christmas cards with the mentally ill
    I want to live and I want to Love
    I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of


    Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I've held
    It pays my way and it corrodes my soul
    Oh, I didn't realise that you wrote poetry
    I didn't realise you wrote such bloody awful poetry, Mr. Shankly


    Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask
    You are a flatulent pain in the arse
    I do not mean to be so rude
    Still, I must speak frankly, Mr. Shankly

    Oh, give us your money !



    I'm sure it was very therapeutic for the author!

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    I think eccentric is a great word! You certainly don't come across as neurotic in the "real" sense to me at least!!! I guess having a medical background I've had dealings with true neurosis and you aint it!

    I sometimes wonder if you can be too reflective - and I guess that's an individual choice for each person. Personally I don't think one can reflect enough. I hold a habit of meditating at the start & end of the day. Bringing myself to account for any harm I may have inflicted or other ways of dealing with life. (for me) it has really helped contain that reflection. I will often question myself as I go about myday - out loud to whomever is in my company!!!

    For me it has helped to a) bring myself to accoutability to myself b) question myself against respected others. We have a "circle" of friends where we discuss these types of issues and that's a great weekly thing to do. It really for me is like turning over the dirt so to speak - getting in and really questioning what other ways to respond, act, celebrate the accomplishments and have support through the stuff ups! All with loving support.

    It's too late for me I haven't been able to "get" your poem but I look forward to reading it when I can reflect on its meaning...

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    LOL there's not much to "get" about those song lyrics Inanna It was just an example of how you can change/choose your perspective in your challenging interactions with people. I've read Morrissey's biography and I know that he really struggled to be happy in his early years, especially in school/work environments because of poor interpersonal skills. He has a lot of built up anger about it but manages to let it out in a safety valve of creativity and humour. I try to learn from this. And I often apply it to challenging situations here on BB. If I read a thread that leaves my blood boiling I can often choose to sit back and look at it in a different way. Sometimes in explaining it to DH the humour of it comes out.

    Me: "Oh for goodness sake these comments in these thread are just so so so... people need to bloody well stop and think about how what they are saying is being interpreted by others! Nark nark nark etc"

    DH "Hehe... listen to you... all in a flap, go hang out in the hen house for a while then"

    So of course the idea of me sitting in the hen house de-briefing with Tina (our chicken) makes me laugh and I gain a bit of perspective. I've taken that all important step back and looked at the situation with a degree of separation. I think it's important to be able to do that. I wish I could manage my time better to meditate... but at least I have the hen house!
    Last edited by Bathsheba; August 13th, 2010 at 12:22 PM.

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    Oh Bath, that is so like a conversation that would happen here. Not about the threads necessarily but even if our behaviour to each other isn't always up to scratch (no pun intended) then we will often make light heart of it, or realise our shortcomings first and make light of ourselves. And you are right it does give great perspective. Bath I'll have to send you some of the meditation apps/podcasts I use. I often do them right before bed or when I have 20 mins to myself in the afternoon, or even wake just that little bit earlier to start my day after some reflection. It definitely helps for sure.

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