Monday, February 7, 2011

Sitting and Watching

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am an INTJ - an Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging type of guy. Every time I’ve taken the test, I get the same thing, without exception,

What this means is that I’m not the kind of person who figures things out rationally at first. I get intuitions, which are almost always right, then I have to look for the reasons they’re right.

I was recently interviewing a young married couple, about whom I was getting, to use some Sixties argot, bad vibrations. It was mostly the expression on her face, followed by his. It was her tone of voice.

I interviewed them for perhaps an hour, but I was getting that puzzled feeling after ten minutes. Then it popped into my mind: they’re going to get divorced. They were maybe 21.

After they left I had to look for the reasons. It was her contemptuous attitude and his poker face.

Psychologists who study relationships have found they can watch a 15-minute tape of a couple and predict divorce with a 95% accuracy rate. They can watch the tape with the sound off and look for micro-expressions of, first and foremost, contempt.
The other three expressions they look for are defensiveness, stonewalling, and criticism.
Watching five minutes of a tape gives a 90% accuracy rate of divorce. Three minutes gives an 80% accuracy rate.

The woman I interviewed was showing contempt and he was stonewalling – not saying a word. After I analyzed my intuitions, I found the reasons for what I believed.

I’m a people watcher. During the summer I sit in outdoor cafes and watch people. I don’t even have to listen. It is very enlightening to watch them and see the expressions on their faces. I things I can tell about their lives.


Enbrethiliel said...


I get that result all the time, too, but I must be a very low J (or however one is supposed to say that).

But I'm definitely an N like you! I once got a similar intuition about someone's "bad vibrations" and shared it with some people. One of them really took offense, saying that since I had no actual evidence, it couldn't possibly be true. Of course, one year later, when the "proof" finally came to light, I had the last laugh.

Kent McManigal said...

I am an INTP.

You should watch me and my daughter's mom for an hour. You'd see some contempt, some stonewalling, and various other things. Yet, because I learned what she was/is before I could make the mistake of marrying her, we won't get divorced.