Is it possible to know what someone is like simply by looking at their stuff? I’ve learned quite a bit about that very distinct possibility after reading Dr. Sam Gosling’s book Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You . From organizational habits, to the music they listen to, to the posters and pictures they hang on the wall (and how those pictures are hung), you can learn a lot about someone’s goals, their personality, and even their hopes and dreams.
The foundation for this science of snooping is based upon the “Big 5” personality traits, commonly referred to as the “OCEAN.” These are: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Wikipedia has an excellent article laying out what exactly the “OCEAN” is all about and what the exact properties of each of the 5 traits are.
When we think of stereotypes, we think of judging people based on their appearances. Dr. Gosling teaches us in this book that we are constantly using stereotypes to judge our surroundings and that, in general, stereotypes are a good thing. If we didn’t use stereotypes, every experience we had would be brand new.
In chapter 7, “In Defense of Stereotypes,” he says…
Imagine you are walking along a path in the jungle and you hear the roar of a tiger. You turn and, behind a nearby bush, you see the tail of the tiger. Although you have yet to see the whole beast, it’s a good bet that you’re in danger of encountering a tiger, not a hitherto undiscovered species of shrew with the tail and roar of a tiger. You would be wise to make a run for it, or do whatever you are supposed to do when encountering a tiger (although, of course, if it really was a tiger-tailed shrew you might have just missed the biological find of the century). The example shows that we use stereotypes to fill in the gaps when we are unable to gather all the information. And most everyday opportunities for perception are riddled with gaps. If you didn’t use stereotypes, you would be overwhelmed, because every item, person, and experience in life would have to be treated as though it were a totally new experience, not part of a broader class.
Gosling tells us that music is also a huge part of what defines us. More specifically, there are certain types of music for which, if you notice CD from particular genres laying around someone’s apartment, will be more indicative of someone’s personality, religious or political views.
For example, Gosling says that studies have shown that Contemporary Religious, Country and Classical music are fairly accurate at determining personality as compared with Soul, Pop and Rap.
Gosling also provides some interesting data charts involving what music people listen to and the drug preferences they have, what values they hold, physical characteristics and more.
I don’t want to give away too much about Dr. Gosling’s book, so I’ll just briefly touch on some other points made throughout.
Dr. Gosling talks a lot about people’s personality traits and how these traits are reflected in their living spaces. They leave a “residue” behind. Is this person disorganized? Conscientious? An active person? Are they trying to deceive you with the appearance of their living quarters?
He talks about things such as personal webpages, email signatures, blogs, etc. These things can say a lot about a person. He also touches on the fact that in some cases, facial features can say something about the person (the “snoopee”).
A big part of people’s lives, Dr. Gosling says, are what he calls their “feeling regulators.” Objects they keep around themselves to remind themselves of past accomplishments, family or loved ones, famous people, idols, etc. These serve as motivation, calming elements or any other type of way to regulate feelings.
Homes Built To Fit Your Personality
In the final chapter of this book, Dr. Gosling talks of how an architect by the name of Chris Travis builds homes to suit the inhabitant’s personality. He calls the process of determining the layout of the new home the “Truehome Method.” A very unique idea, and ironic, because much of what Travis had been doing with architecture was right in line with the research that Dr. Gosling was discovering with his “snooping.” People with different personalities, and especially among couples, have different spacial wants and needs.
When I visited Travis and looked at some of the plans he had created for his client’s houses, I quickly saw how his understanding of the functions of a living space differs from that of a conventional architect. One plan was stretched out on a long table. Whereas a conventional architect might use labels such as family room, back porch, and master bedroom, Travis’s labels denote the feelings each space must evoke for the home’s owners.
Dr. Sam Gosling’s book, Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You is a great read. Not only does it show how you can learn a lot about others just by looking at their stuff, but you can learn a lot about yourself in the same way. You can be your own “snoopee.”
What does your workspace look like? Is your desk a mess? Does it look like no one has ever used it? Do you have pictures hanging on the walls or on the desk? Which way do they face? Toward you, or toward your vistors? Your stuff says a lot about you.
I think it’s time for an abstract observation regarding human behavior. I’ll begin with a few questions. Feel free to ponder them before continuing on to my theory.
Where are most religious zealots located on this planet? Where does most extreme human behavior take place? Where does it seem that most strife and turmoil takes place?
The answer to this question, to which I think pretty much anyone will agree, is the Middle-Eastern countries: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Israel, etc. Now, the source of all the myriad problems in these countries can be severely complex – if you make them such. Terrorism, political disagreements, social upheaval, religious differences, etc. But, behind all this, I think there can be found one commonality: water.
Yes, I said water. Why water? Our bodies are made of what? 70% water. All of the intricacies of how our bodies function, the life force behind everything we are… water. Could one argue with me, that a paucity of water would have little or no effect on mental stability of a man? I say one couldn’t. Water would have a tremendous effect.
Here’s an interesting example, and it seems to prove my point very well. If you were to look at a map of the election results of 2004 and 2000, you’d notice that the Democratic votes were of states close to sources of water, while the concentration of Republican voters are centered around the plains, the Nevada desert area, and of course the “Texas Tea” (oil).
For some reason oil has the exact opposite effect on human behavior that water does. It makes people insane. Look at Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and similar areas with plentiful sources of oil – the homeland of terrorism. It’s not even the possession of oil, but the fact that it’s in the Earth. It’s the aura given off by oil, as it is with water. Think of how it makes you feel when you stand on the beach and breathe in the ocean air, standing next to a waterfall, or hiking in the mountains. The air is filled with negative ions. They have a balancing effect.
(A side note: think of what happens to oil when you mix it with water.)
I feel that water is the primary cause for most of the strife and problems in this area of the world. But how can this be? They are surrounded by water. Yes, they are surrounded by water, but it is hardly drinkable. The Dead Sea has so much salt in it that you can simply lay in it and float. 6X saltier than the ocean.
Now, I know this is not nearly a complete(ly believable) theory, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. It seems to make sense to me. Almost too much sense. Let me know what you think.
Read a book.
Does anyone hate Walmart as much as I do? And I’m not talking just about how our economy is destroyed by them, how local businesses are shut down because they can’t compete, how they pay minimum wage to their workers with little or no benefits, etc. These are all valid reasons, but this is not what I’m talking about. No, I’m talking about Walmart Downsies. The population that frequents Walmart. Those who shop and work there.
It’s when you step into any neighborhood Walmart that all façades are removed from the face of humanity. All veils that may cover our true primitive essence are stripped away. We see that humans are no different from any other beast. The only two things that make us “superior” to any other animal are guns and electricity. (In fact, this will tie in to how I feel that humans are the most vile species on this planet.)
In case we’re not on the same page, in case you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll illustrate for you. There are, starting with the employees, 2 basic models. There’s the Downsy (Down Syndrome ridden individuals), and there’s the 65 year-old forced out of retirement due to Walmart’s effects on the economy. Every once in a while, you’ll run into the quasi-computer geek type who has no social skills whatsoever, and who really knows very little about computers or electronics – even though he works in that department.
It’s interesting how their uniform thing says, “How May I Help You?” This is the question they are least capable of answering. I mean, if it said, “May I Please Unabashedly Drool All Over and Respond To Your Questions With ‘I Don’t Know,’” this would be more fitting. Or, for variety, another one might say, “How Do You Like The Way My Child’s Sweatpants Look On Me? Do They Go Well With These Moon Boots?”
But, it’s not just the employees who exhibit this type of existence. There seems to be some type of device centrally placed in each Walmart which attracts dirt, low IQs, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome humans. (Keep in mind, these are the people who elect our president.) There is an abundance of camouflage, screaming, rough body slams, and talk about how much they love LL Cool J and WWE Wrestling. At the same time, contained in their lives, there is very little book reading, collective unconscious-enhancing activity, pre-frontal cortex stimulation, or even intelligible English.
This, I believe, is the result of human inhibitions being completely removed. Most of us live in what might be termed “respectable,” or “civilized” social situations. It is all, of course, an illusion. It’s all the result of social conditioning, advertising/media, and a society based solely upon money (which we are all a slave to). Without our social inhibitions, we shake loose the bonds of thought and consciousness, and become the Walmart Downsy we were meant to be. Mindless cogs living on a consumer plantation, consuming piles of plastic and panel-board.
And what would happen if we were to eliminate electricity and guns? In probably 2 years time, we’d be no different than any other animal in the forest. Our society would completely crumble, any hint of “civilization” would be completely gone, and we’d discover how truly revolting the human race really is.
I’m not being facetious. Humans are the most vile species on this planet. We are, after all, the only species on the planet that kills members of its own or other species for personal gain or entertainment. Not only that, but think of the most disgusting animal or insect, and the most sordid thing that life form does, and I’ll show you something humans do that’s 10x worse. Let’s do a “for example.” Maybe a few of them. Rats are pretty nasty creatures. Most people cringe at the sight of them. Now, no matter how sick and vile they seem, a rat would never have sex with another dead rat. It wouldn’t even cross its mind. Us humans, we even have a name for it… necrophilia. People having sex with dead people. And we call ourselves civilized.
Let’s do another “for example.” The common house fly is one of the most dangerous insects because of its eating habits. After eating trash and fecal matter (poop), it lands on our countertop or even our food, spreading sickness and disease. Andwe humans, for some strange reason, feel we’re above this behavior. Do me a quick favor and Google “eat poop.” I wouldn’t recommend an image search. This is an entire industry. Thousands of people who either eat poopy, or watch other people eat poopy as a means of entertainment. Flies eat poop as a means of survival. They have adapted through evolution to make use of the elements in poop. Not humans. No, we just eat and play with poopy as a means of entertainment and intramural activity.
Now, I’m not writing this to be disgusting, but to prove a point. There’s a really good reason aliens don’t stop by and say hello. One of the only things Freud was right about was the fact that the most disgusting thing you could possibly think of, no matter what it is, there is someone on this planet doing it right now. Not that someone had at some point done it, but that they are doing it as we speak. And you can’t say that about any other animal on this planet.
Right now someone is eating poop for fun.
Have you ever wondered where people get their motives from? For example, how people can determine that a child that’s screaming of hunger takes less importance when compared to buying lottery tickets. I aim at taking a close look at this particular matter in this paper.
A prominent attitude found in the area in which I live is, as I would call it, “drunken indifference.” This attitude has penetrated the inner cities and has spread through the smaller towns, and it’s evident where I live. The psychology behind it is very simple. The people who have fallen victim to this plague have most likely been consuming alcohol from a very young age. And because of this, they have an even more risk of developing alcoholism – which most of them have already fallen into by around age 25. As most people know, alcohol has tremendous effects on the brain. One of these is addiction. And as you know, when you become addicted to something, it affects your entire life. It’s no different in these situations. The people who suffer from Drunken Indifference (D.I.) have little or no regards for anyone around them, let alone their own families.
D.I. does not consist of Alcoholism alone. It has a vast array of symptoms. And because of the environment and living conditions they endure, the source of their addictions are never far from their dwellings. I say dwellings because some of these structures could hardly be called houses.
A common meeting place for D.I. victims are local convenience stores. Vices of many kinds may be found here. These small groups of people have penetrated and infected these stores with their presence and have driven the average person from shopping there because of the repulsive and shameless consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets. Any self-respecting person would be repulsed at what goes on in these places. A vein has been tapped and until the need has been met these people will continue to consume.
On many occasions you can observe hideous behavior in these “hideouts.” Kids will cry for food and will be continually denied while the parents will squander entire welfare and/or paychecks on the aforementioned products. No concern at all for the health of their child/children. They are completely willing to treat ”loved ones” this way in public because the addiction has consumed them so wholly. They don’t even realize it anymore. They don’t realize until they arrive at home that there’s not a bit to eat in the entire house. All sense of responsibility has left them and has been replaced with pure selfish greed, and it’s not even greed for anything that’s going to better their lives. Alcohol and cigarettes destroy families, yet they have an unceasing desire to aquire endless supplies of these items without regard for people around them.
D.I. does not favor one sex over the other. Both male and female are steadily being immersed in this catastrophe. Imagine seeing a woman tell her son “No” to a bag of bagels as she rings up $50.00 in lottery tickets. It is upsetting at the least. Yet, it happens on a day to day basis.
On A Solution
This is a difficult problem to solve to say the least. It would be unethical to force people to spend money the way you wanted them to, but at the same time you have to look out for the welfare of the children. There are several options available although they could prove to be very controversial. I will attempt to cover at least the basics of each.
One of the main problems is that the consumption of alcohol under the legal age takes place far too often. More efforts must be made to curb this problem in order to solve the larger issue. I propose a type of “Scared Straight” approach while children are young; starting at least in Kindergarten or 1st grade. Nothing is more important than teaching children about the harms of alcohol and cigarettes before they hear it from someone else.
It is hard to put pressure on employees of these places knowing the difficulties they deal with already, but some type of policy should be employed where if a child is definitely in need of food and the parent continually denies them, authorities should be notified immediately. Sufferers of I.D. feel that these stores are a “safe haven” for their activities to go on. They must learn that disregard for the health of their children will not be tolerated.
Finally, I propose that we all watch for these things that are happening and do your part. If you see someone who has show all or some of the signs of Drunken Indifference, please contact the authorities or a social worker or something. Something needs to be done.
I have addressed a problem that is not something that happens “somewhere else.” It’s happening in every city in America. Anywhere alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets are sold there is at least 1 person who’s been affected by D.I. and unless it is stopped early, others will also suffer, and it’s most likely going to be children. I urge you to do what you can to help solve this problem.