Social Sciences

To Scope Someone Out, See How They Judge Others

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You've recently started a new job, and you're attempting to suss out the new coworkers. After all, you've read that having work friends is crucial to both your happiness and productivity. But how do you stealthily find a way to distinguish friend from foe? According to a 2010 study, you should ask them what they think of their own coworkers.

Related: You Decide If You Trust An Unfamiliar Face After Only 100 Milliseconds

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No One Likes A Negative Nancy

Research from Wake Forest University psychology professor and study co-author Dustin Wood reveals that your personality and general happiness has less to do with your feelings about yourself and more to do with your perception of others. In other words, people tend to see their own traits in other people. If your new cubicle mate has only nice things to say about your team, then they're likely kindhearted, emotionally stable, satisfied with their lives, and well-liked. A.K.A., B.W.F. (best work friend) material.

Related: Think The Person Who Cut You Off Is A Jerk? That's Fundamental Attribution Error

On the flip side, Wood explains to Inc. that "the simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders." Ouch. Even if your boss is an actual psychopath, speaking ill of them makes you more likely to harbor narcissistic and antisocial personality traits. As Thumper tells Bambi in the Disney classic, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."

Related: Friendships Are Crucial, Especially At Work

Enter Stealth Mode

So, let's get back to being stealthy. How should you frame this personality-revealing question for your coworker? According to Inc., you can start by asking how they're liking the company so far, then dive right in with: "How do you like working with [insert person here]?" If their answer is positive, you just made a new friend. You can thank us later.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Trait theory researchers try to define personality by looking at long-term behavior patterns and conscious motivations. 02:00

  2. Reciprocal determinism theorizes that aspects of your environment affect aspects of your personality, and vice versa. 05:13

  3. The humanistic approach generally disregards methods of standardized personality testing. 09:01

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