Sunday, 21 October 2012

All The Things in Life that Matter

"Personality is two things: (a) generalizations about human nature, and (b) explorations of individual differences.What generalizations can we make about human nature? Sociology, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology suggest three. First, people always live in groups. Second, every group has a status hierarchy. Third, every group has a religion, which is typically used to justify the status hierarchy and the existing moral and legal systems. This suggests that there are three overriding themes in individual lives: (a) efforts to get along with other people (because we live with them); (b) efforts to attain some power, status, and control of resources (more is always better); and (c) efforts to make some sense out of our lives (by interpreting them in terms of a quasi-philosophical system.)

Personality psychology is also about individual differences. People differ from one another in many, many ways. These three generalizations - that people want acceptance, status, and meaning - suggest what the most important domains of individual differences might be. The first domain will concern individual differences in the desire for, and the ability to obtain, social acceptance and support. The second will concern individual differences in the desire for, and the ability to obtain, status, power, and the control of resources. The third will concern individuals in the desire for meaning and purpose in life."

- Robert Hogan, In Defense of Personality Psychology: New Wine for Old Whiners, 2005

Indeed, leaders are people who excel in their ability to gain acceptance and support, power and status, and to make meaning.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Little wonder that we seldom learn from history.

Monday, 15 October 2012

‎"Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess."

You get no less from the fabulous Oscar Wilde.


"Dude, I can't drink too much man. Got heaps of stuff to do tmr. Can't get smashed."

"Dude neh mind la, a few more ain't nothing."

"Dude, I scared for my liver lah."

"Dude, it's ok. Your liver is insured."

"I... Okay."

(As seen on Dudley's Facebook feed)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Live Fast

A quien Dios quiere para si, poco tiempo lo tiene aqui.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Happened to chance upon an art exhibition at the foot of my building. They always have exhibits there for free viewing but I never step in. This time I did (partly because there was a lame fire drill going on and I couldn't yet get back into office). There was an exhibit by Willis Turner Henry, an Indonesian Chinese artist, on culture and identity. Her pieces reflect her biculturalism - in Indonesia, she's a Chinese. In China, she's an Indonesian.

That's interesting. It's the same for me as a Singaporean Chinese. We emphasize what's different, distinctive, and distinguishing of ourselves.

Why is this so? Does it serve the purpose of providing more information about myself to people I introduce myself to that I regard as the general mass of the place I'm in (certainly, telling Singaporeans that I'm Singaporean doesn't tell them much)? Does this represent the age-old tug between fitting in the group and individualizing yourself, and in this case for whatever reason individualization wins out? Or is it something to do with pride? Does it follow that I not only indicate the cultural identity in me that is distinguishing, but that I behave in ways to emphasize it - speak more like a Singaporean in China and more like a Chinese in Singapore? I don't quite imagine myself doing this, but I'm a lousier judge of my own character than I am of others. Does everyone else do this (I pretty much think so)?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Imperare sibi maximum imperium est.

Monday, 8 October 2012


I think Hell is something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.
- Neil Gaiman

Sunday, 7 October 2012


When faced with the prospect of either having more choices to choose from or having fewer choices, people prefer having more choices, without realizing that this is likely to make them less satisfied and less happy eventually.

Saturday, 6 October 2012


You can only neutralize one force with another force. Power begets other powers in a constant struggle. When you disarm a soldier with a flower, your flower is the gun wielding the influence. Life is a neverending flux of power negotiations.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Social Perception

It's fascinating how the thought that we're being observed, or that there are others present, can have such profound effects on our behaviour. Walking into a wall isn't quite as embarrassing if there isn't anybody around to watch your silly act. The best dancers and singers might just reside among those who think they're alone.

People whose social perceptions are impaired, such as autistics as one example, are probably the most themselves.

Perhaps that's what makes us more human-like. If we always behaved without regard for others, we wouldn't experience the full spectrum of emotions that we have been designed to feel as social beings. Compassion, guilt, empathy, embarrassment, shame, happiness, anger - these are not fully expressed if we're by ourselves. Of course, there are feelings that occur when we're lonely, but even then, those feelings prompt us towards finding others for their companionship in order to remove the aversive feelings of sadness and loneliness.

Religions probably tap into this humanity as well. The idea that there is a God, or gods, watching over us, instilled from a young age, can keep us from losing our sense of humanness. The mere sight of a camera, mirror, or fake eyes in a room that you're alone in can make you self-conscious and watch yourself.