Other people think differently from me. I may not realise that. I may just generalise from my own thoughts and feelings, imagining others feel the same way, or project my feelings onto them. I want to understand more. That means learning how they think.
There are countless ways to differentiate one person from the next, but psychological scientists have settled on a relatively simple taxonomy, known widely as the Big Five:
Extroversion: gregariousness, social dominance, enthusiasm, reward-seeking behavior
Neuroticism: anxiety, emotional instability, depressive tendencies, negative emotions
Conscientiousness: industriousness, discipline, rule abidance, organization
Agreeableness: warmth, care for others, altruism, compassion, modesty
Openness: curiosity, unconventionality, imagination, receptivity to new ideas
I got that from The Atlantic on Mr Trump. My friend’s hands shook so badly for some weeks that I poured the tea for him: his psychiatrist labelled this an “Adjustment disorder”, a physical symptom of adverse circumstances. When there is no chance of changing the thing, and rather than serenity most people would feel long term shock and terror, “Pull yourself together” is the response.
Here’s a post on Personality change. Personality may change because we want it to, or because of brain injury or illness.
I am worried about that situation, and I should really pass it on to those people. The trouble is, I do not trust them. They are not like X, so I think of them as less. And- I do nothing, because I am not certain that what I imagine an optimal result will happen- but doing nothing may be worse. What do they think? What would they think? What would they do?
I want greater empathy. This is an introverted person. This is an authoritarian person. My moral judgment of good and bad gets in the way of understanding, and I am too quick to see something as bad, rather than different.
And I am paralysed from acting when “success” is too important to me. Rather than trying something in the hope of making things better I want to do something which will make things right. That’s impossible, so I do nothing.
Trump is a rich source of material on personality difference. Here’s Emily Thorson: those interested in politics are, on the whole, ideologically consistent. People who are ideologically consistent hold beliefs that line up with each other as we’d assume in modern party politics: For example, a liberal who supports gay marriage probably also supports government spending on social programs and protecting the environment.
Many of us intuitively believe that there is something “right” about these particular combinations of beliefs—that a liberal or conservative ideology reflects an underlying and internally coherent worldview. While that is not entirely wrong, it is also the case that our beliefs about which issues “go together” are shaped by political elites’ efforts to establish winning electoral coalitions. People not interested in politics aren’t “consistent” in this way.