Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let me tell you all about you

People love to analyze themselves, to figure out why they do things a certain way, what motivates them in everyday life, and what draws them to others.

Moving one step further, people really enjoy it when someone else can give them the answers and fill in the blanks for them.  This I think explains the love of horoscopes and fortune telling.  I was surprised to learn that more than 1/4 of all Americans believe in astrology.  This reality has been highlighted recently with all the buzz about zodiac signs and shifting planets that has been in the news lately (and much talked about).

In case you are one of the last to know, here is the article that explains why the sign you thought you were may not be your true one.  And here is an article (one example of many) that highlights the identity crises that are happening all across the country.

In honor of all this frivolous hubub, I'd like to offer an alternative system for identifying your strengths and characteristics.

Twelve Signs of the Garden
Based on what delicious produce is at its peak of perfection.  What better way to connect with your roots?

You feel your good intentions are sometimes misunderstood, what you thought would be a sweet gesture might be interpreted as bitter instead.  You have a sunny outlook even in dark and gloomy days.  You tend to keep your feelings to yourself but when you feel a connection you aren't afraid to open up.  You mix well with Grapes.

Hearty and robust, you have a strong sense of yourself and your beliefs.  You don't shy away from a tough task.  When socializing you tend to soften up a bit and give others opinions a chance, even if at first you don't think you'll agree with them.  You mix well with Eggplant.

You are a surprise to those who take the time to know you.  You get along with a wide variety of other people, and adapt well to various circumstances.  You mix well with Strawberry.

You enjoy adding your thoughts to the conversation or issues at hand.  You don't require much to remain happy, you find peace in your surroundings.  You mix well with Watermelon.

You give strength to those around you, even in very small amounts.  Your feelings are very easy to interpret, even from across the room.  You mix well with Eggplant.

Others find you to be very attractive and enjoyable to be around.  You are very giving and generous.  You don't feel the need to be critical of others, you would rather lead by example.  You mix well with Mint.

You enjoy your originality and individuality.  You don't conform to the ideas of others, preferring to take the time to figure things out for yourself.  You mix well with Garlic.

You sometimes feel like you're being pulled in many different directions.  You can be comfortable in many different situations because a piece of you can adapt in any variety of ways imaginable.  You mix well with Apple.

You have a strong presence, and it can be difficult for just anyone to get to the real you.  But once you let someone in, they discover what a softie you are.  You mix well with Strawberry.

You have a long history of being in just the right place at the right time.  You appreciate those slices of life that others may miss.  You mix well with Celery.

You are very down to earth and tend to have friends with similar values and beliefs.  You enjoy the unexpected things that add spice to life, such as travel and adventure.  You mix well with Apple.

You are very genuine, kind, and compassionate.  You like to mingle and meet lots of new people regularly.  You mix well with Grapes.

I promise these signs will not change according to the planet or stars (except I suppose in a billion years when the sun moves far enough from the Earth to change the growing patterns of our fruits and vegetables..)

What do you think?  Were the descriptions eerily accurate for some of you?  Would you believe I have an amazing ability to predict who you are based on this system?

Let me introduce you to the Forer effect.  It basically says that if an authoritative source gives an analysis that is supposedly personalized to the individual, and it includes a mostly positive traits, then that person is highly likely to believe this to be an accurate assessment.

To prove the point, an experiment was done by psychologist Bertram Forer in 1948.  He gave his group of students a personality test.  They were told that based on this test they would be getting a summary of what kind of traits each of them possessed.  The tests were collected, scored, and then a summary distributed with what they believed to be individualized description.  They were asked to give a rating how accurately the summary applied to them.  On a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent), the average rating was 4.26, which means the vast majority felt this was indeed a great personality test.  
The funny thing was, they were all given the exact same description!  Here is what it said:

  • "You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life."
Very easy to see how these statements apply to most of us.

 For those of you who enjoy this sort of subject matter, I highly recommend you check out this book, How We Know What Isn't So, written by Tom Gilovich.  It talks about why we tend to believe things that simply aren't so, from the psychologists perspective.  It's an easy and very engaging book to read.  I have a copy on my shelf, and have gifted it to a very grateful family member as well.


  1. hhaaa! i am so totally mint : )

    i think the forer effect could apply even if mostly negative traits are given, people just want to be defined, they're uncomfortable with the fact that they're constantly changing and are capable of being many different people. creating a stronger sense of self is a delusional way of feeling more important and secure

  2. Uou're not the only one who has told me they identify with their garden sign! funny!
    So you think it's because people like being put in a "box" eh? I hadn't thought of it that way, could be...
    Does that mean I should try another version of everyone's weak points and see what the reception is like? I don't think I have the heart.