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Re: [agile-usability] Is your right brain active?

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  • Tim Wright
    Usefully, I ve just finished reading The Human Mind by Robert Winston. I think he puts it quite nicely: While the left and right hemispheres of our brain
    Message 1 of 16 , May 12, 2009
      Usefully, I've just finished reading "The Human Mind" by Robert Winston. I think he puts it quite nicely:

      "While the left and right hemispheres of our brain each have identical structures and in normal circumstances are in constant communication with each other, each half also houses somewhat different functions. Having said that, the two sides of the brain are in constant communication with each other. In most people, the left side tends to do more analytical processing. As well as being the site of language faculties in most people, it is also often responsible for aspects of reason and deduction. The right side, in contrast, tends to be a much more holistic machine.

      "Much has been written, often without good evidence, about the difference between the function of the right side of the brain and the left side....."

      Essentially: there are differences between the two sides of the brain. However, in normal circumstances, it doesn't usually matter at all.

      However, rather than rely on the pop-culture meaning of right/left brain being thinking/feeling, I'd prefer to rely on the Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers Briggs survey - it's actually based on some half-decent research (allbeit 50 odd years old now).

      Tim


      On Thu, May 7, 2009 at 11:11 PM, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:


      Jon,

      Hate to rain on the beans, but this popular and widely distributed "test"
      has been around for many years and is totally without foundation. The
      give-away that this is made up is "Doctors have concluded..." Which doctors?
      How? Not only is this not research based but to the extent it tests
      anything, it is most likely testing aspects of visual processing, not
      "right-brain/left-brain." If it were evaluating any documented aspect of
      "right-brain/left-brain" processing, it is what is more likely to be
      "left-brain" attention to detail and serial processing, much as used in
      "Find Waldo" type pastimes.

      I use the quotes around "right-brain/left-brain" because, although still
      pervasive in the popular culture the paradigm has been largely abandoned in
      psychology; much of what is attributed to lateralization turns out to be
      much subtler than the simplistic popular models.

      --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
      Professor, Department of Mathematics & Engineering
      University of Madeira | Funchal, Portugal


    • Marjorie H Pries
      I think everybody who was interested enough to comment on or keep reading this thread should investigate the book, On Being Certain: Believing you Are Right
      Message 2 of 16 , May 12, 2009

        I think everybody who was interested enough to comment on or keep reading this thread should investigate the book, "On Being Certain: Believing you Are Right Even When You're Not" by Robert Burton.

        http://www.amazon.com/Being-Certain-Believing-Right-Youre/dp/0312359209

        He presents some very engaging and profound philosophical discussions about selective perception, the known mechanics of  brain function and probable role of evolution that give insights into things like this little game....when you consciously and diligently look for the man, you don't see him, but when you turn that processing off and let what some people refer to as intuition take over, he pops right out at you.



        Marjorie H. Pries
        Lead Consultant / Utility Infielder

        ThoughtWorks, Inc.
        http://www.thoughtworks.com

        "Don't believe everything you think."
            --seen on a bumpersticker



        Tim Wright <sambo.shacklock@...>
        Sent by: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com

        05/12/2009 03:00 PM

        Please respond to
        agile-usability@yahoogroups.com

        To
        agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        cc
        Subject
        Re: [agile-usability] Is your right brain active?









        Usefully, I've just finished reading "The Human Mind" by Robert Winston. I think he puts it quite nicely:

        "While the left and right hemispheres of our brain each have identical structures and in normal circumstances are in constant communication with each other, each half also houses somewhat different functions. Having said that, the two sides of the brain are in constant communication with each other. In most people, the left side tends to do more analytical processing. As well as being the site of language faculties in most people, it is also often responsible for aspects of reason and deduction. The right side, in contrast, tends to be a much more holistic machine.

        "Much has been written, often without good evidence, about the difference between the function of the right side of the brain and the left side....."

        Essentially: there are differences between the two sides of the brain. However, in normal circumstances, it doesn't usually matter at all.

        However, rather than rely on the pop-culture meaning of right/left brain being thinking/feeling, I'd prefer to rely on the Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers Briggs survey - it's actually based on some half-decent research (allbeit 50 odd years old now).

        Tim


        On Thu, May 7, 2009 at 11:11 PM, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:

        Jon,

        Hate to rain on the beans, but this popular and widely distributed "test"
        has been around for many years and is totally without foundation. The
        give-away that this is made up is "Doctors have concluded..." Which doctors?
        How? Not only is this not research based but to the extent it tests
        anything, it is most likely testing aspects of visual processing, not
        "right-brain/left-brain." If it were evaluating any documented aspect of
        "right-brain/left-brain" processing, it is what is more likely to be
        "left-brain" attention to detail and serial processing, much as used in
        "Find Waldo" type pastimes.

        I use the quotes around "right-brain/left-brain" because, although still
        pervasive in the popular culture the paradigm has been largely abandoned in
        psychology; much of what is attributed to lateralization turns out to be
        much subtler than the simplistic popular models.

        --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
        Professor, Department of Mathematics & Engineering
        University of Madeira | Funchal, Portugal



      • Ron Jeffries
        Hello, Marjorie. On Tuesday, May 12, 2009, at 7:40:09 AM, you ... Thanks for this link. Ordered for my Kindle. Looks fascinating! Ron Jeffries
        Message 3 of 16 , May 12, 2009
          Hello, Marjorie. On Tuesday, May 12, 2009, at 7:40:09 AM, you
          wrote:

          > I think everybody who was interested enough to comment on or keep reading
          > this thread should investigate the book, "On Being Certain: Believing you
          > Are Right Even When You're Not" by Robert Burton.

          > http://www.amazon.com/Being-Certain-Believing-Right-Youre/dp/0312359209

          > He presents some very engaging and profound philosophical discussions
          > about selective perception, the known mechanics of brain function and
          > probable role of evolution that give insights into things like this little
          > game....when you consciously and diligently look for the man, you don't
          > see him, but when you turn that processing off and let what some people
          > refer to as intuition take over, he pops right out at you.

          Thanks for this link. Ordered for my Kindle. Looks fascinating!

          Ron Jeffries
          www.XProgramming.com
          www.xprogramming.com/blog
          Speak the affirmative; emphasize your choice
          by utterly ignoring all that you reject. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
        • Larry Constantine
          ... being thinking/feeling, I d prefer to rely on the Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers Briggs survey - it s actually based on some half-decent research
          Message 4 of 16 , May 13, 2009

            Tim wrote:

             

            >However, rather than rely on the pop-culture meaning of right/left brain being thinking/feeling, I'd prefer to rely on the Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers Briggs survey - it's actually based on some half-decent research (allbeit 50 odd years old now).<

            I don’t mean to be the perpetual rain maker, but, this is just another flavor of pop-culture psychobabble. The Myers-Briggs and its related Kiersey Temperament Sorter are based on Jungian psychoanalytic theory, which, along with Freudian psychoanalytic theory, is taken less and less seriously these days. Most of the early personality theories, even the ones for which reasonably reliable instruments were developed, have largely been supplanted by evidenced-based personality models, particularly the now generally accepted five-factor model.

             

            Frankly, the MB and KTS are fun at a cocktail-party level (“I’ll tell you my type if you’ll tell me yours” “Well, what can you expect from an ISTJ”) and remain immensely popular in management circles (in part because there are free versions of the KTS and no training, licensing, or fees are required to use them, unlike the more industrial strength instruments like the MMPI) and no doubt also owing in part to their somewhat simplistic categorization of people into “types”. In any case, they are not to be taken too seriously, certainly not compared to the more recent findings in neuroscience and cognitive science—even in their popularized packages.

             

            Only Introversion-extraversion from the MB remains as a generally accepted valid dimension of personality trait. As I’ve said before in this and other forums, a psychometrically weak test with little or no independent validity and based on unscientific theory is hardly a good grounding for significant insight into ourselves and each other. Among colleagues who work in this field, MB and KTS “types” are regarded as little better than astrology, garnering comments resembling the oft-quoted Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—“Mostly harmless.” (Although there is debate about that.)

             

            Amidst all that rhetorical rain, I confess I have learned things from using the KTS, but I suspect this has more to do with the process and context within which it was used than from the validity of the typology or the measurement instrument. I have seen completely discredited “tests,” such as the Luscher Color Test, yield interesting and useful results in the hands of skilled therapists.

             

            But, we are getting pretty far afield from agility or usability…

             

            --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow

              Director, Lab:USE Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering (www.labuse.org)

              Professor, Department of Mathematics & Engineering

              University of Madeira | Funchal , Portugal

             

          • Ron Jeffries
            Hello, Larry. On Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 7:19:03 AM, you ... It s interesting, though, how much MB /does/ manage to say about people s preferencee. Ron
            Message 5 of 16 , May 13, 2009
              Hello, Larry. On Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 7:19:03 AM, you
              wrote:

              > I don't mean to be the perpetual rain maker, but, this is just another
              > flavor of pop-culture psychobabble. The Myers-Briggs and its related Kiersey
              > Temperament Sorter are based on Jungian psychoanalytic theory, which, along
              > with Freudian psychoanalytic theory, is taken less and less seriously these
              > days. Most of the early personality theories, even the ones for which
              > reasonably reliable instruments were developed, have largely been supplanted
              > by evidenced-based personality models, particularly the now generally
              > accepted five-factor model.

              It's interesting, though, how much MB /does/ manage to say about
              people's preferencee.

              Ron Jeffries
              www.XProgramming.com
              www.xprogramming.com/blog
              The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne. -- Geoffrey Chaucer
            • Ron Jeffries
              Hello, Larry. On Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 10:24:03 AM, you ... I m not sure what objective validity would be. Not sure there is one. However, I have seen
              Message 6 of 16 , May 13, 2009
                Hello, Larry. On Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 10:24:03 AM, you
                wrote:

                > It SEEMS to manage to say-meaning, people tend to feel/think it describes
                > them and others. It's the apparent attribution phenomenon. Research shows
                > that even completely phony tests with randomly assigned descriptions are
                > seen as subjectively valid. Unfortunately, the real objective validity of MB
                > is just not there.

                I'm not sure what "objective validity" would be. Not sure there is
                one. However, I have seen people well versed in M-B perform
                substantially better than chance at tasks like separating the NTs
                from the NFs. I think it is pretty obvious, observing me, that I'll
                score T and not F, for example.

                I can imagine that people would "see" whatever in a person with a
                randomly assigned description. But are you suggesting that for
                people who have actually answered the questions to the best of their
                ability, that their real life responses are essentially random with
                respect to their description? I'd have guessed otherwise.

                Ron Jeffries
                www.XProgramming.com
                www.xprogramming.com/blog
                The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.
                -- John Maxwell
              • Larry Constantine
                ... people s preferencee.
                Message 7 of 16 , May 13, 2009

                  Ron said:

                   

                  > It's interesting, though, how much MB /does/ manage to say about
                  people's preferencee.<

                  It SEEMS to manage to say—meaning,  people tend to feel/think it describes them and others. It’s the apparent attribution phenomenon. Research shows that even completely phony tests with randomly assigned descriptions are seen as subjectively valid. Unfortunately, the real objective validity of MB is just not there.

                   

                  Sorry, more rain in the forecast. :-)

                   

                  --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow

                   

                • Jon Kern
                  Interesting Larry... I have been subjected to numerous of these... MB (ENTP) MB-offshoot that I took with a therapist friend KT and a few others... Oft-times,
                  Message 8 of 16 , May 14, 2009
                    Interesting Larry...

                    I have been subjected to numerous of these...
                    MB (ENTP)
                    MB-offshoot that I took with a therapist friend
                    KT
                    and a few others...

                    Oft-times, my own results are a teeter-tottering between two poles. In
                    one test, the instructor said most people align either in a vertical
                    column or along the horizontal row -- I was on the diagonal <g>. In
                    another, I was a strong Quick-Start, yet would take deep dives in being
                    Data Driven.

                    I just figured it was because I was weird... but maybe it was more due
                    to the inability of the systems to fully describe my "type?"

                    jon
                    blog: http://technicaldebt.wetpaint.com
                    twitter: http://twitter.com/JonKernPA



                    Larry Constantine said the following on 5/13/09 7:19 AM:
                    >
                    >
                    > Tim wrote:
                    >
                    > >However, rather than rely on the pop-culture meaning of right/left
                    > brain being thinking/feeling, I'd prefer to rely on the
                    > Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers Briggs survey - it's actually
                    > based on some half-decent research (allbeit 50 odd years old now).<
                    >
                    > I don’t mean to be the perpetual rain maker, but, this is just another
                    > flavor of pop-culture psychobabble. The Myers-Briggs and its related
                    > Kiersey Temperament Sorter are based on Jungian psychoanalytic theory,
                    > which, along with Freudian psychoanalytic theory, is taken less and
                    > less seriously these days. Most of the early personality theories,
                    > even the ones for which reasonably reliable instruments were
                    > developed, have largely been supplanted by evidenced-based personality
                    > models, particularly the now generally accepted five-factor model.
                    >
                    > Frankly, the MB and KTS are fun at a cocktail-party level (“I’ll tell
                    > you my type if you’ll tell me yours” “Well, what can you expect from
                    > an ISTJ”) and remain immensely popular in management circles (in part
                    > because there are free versions of the KTS and no training, licensing,
                    > or fees are required to use them, unlike the more industrial strength
                    > instruments like the MMPI) and no doubt also owing in part to their
                    > somewhat simplistic categorization of people into “types”. In any
                    > case, they are not to be taken too seriously, certainly not compared
                    > to the more recent findings in neuroscience and cognitive science—even
                    > in their popularized packages.
                    >
                    > Only Introversion-extraversion from the MB remains as a generally
                    > accepted valid dimension of personality trait. As I’ve said before in
                    > this and other forums, a psychometrically weak test with little or no
                    > independent validity and based on unscientific theory is hardly a good
                    > grounding for significant insight into ourselves and each other. Among
                    > colleagues who work in this field, MB and KTS “types” are regarded as
                    > little better than astrology, garnering comments resembling the
                    > oft-quoted /Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy/—“Mostly harmless.”
                    > (Although there is debate about that.)
                    >
                    > Amidst all that rhetorical rain, I confess I have learned things from
                    > using the KTS, but I suspect this has more to do with the process and
                    > context within which it was used than from the validity of the
                    > typology or the measurement instrument. I have seen completely
                    > discredited “tests,” such as the Luscher Color Test, yield interesting
                    > and useful results in the hands of skilled therapists.
                    >
                    > But, we are getting pretty far afield from agility or usability…
                    >
                    > --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
                    >
                    > Director, Lab:USE Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
                    > (www.labuse.org)
                    >
                    > Professor, Department of Mathematics & Engineering
                    >
                    > University of Madeira | Funchal, Portugal
                    >
                    >
                  • Tim Wright
                    Alternatively, MB only measures 4 aspects of personality - and there are lots of others (boiling humans sown to four opposing poles does seem strange). From a
                    Message 9 of 16 , May 15, 2009
                      Alternatively, MB only measures 4 aspects of personality - and there are lots of others (boiling humans sown to four opposing poles does seem strange).

                      From a research perspective (I used to work for a psychometrics firm that has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology), one of the key problems with MB is that it is a forced-choice type result - people have to choose between two results (E or I, etc). There are several problems with this:

                      1. people might prefer something else
                      2. it measures preference rather than strength

                      Despite this, I had the understanding that MB was based on decent (well, decent in those decades ago) research. Larry - do you have references about the problems with it?

                      This is also far off topic for this group - who wants to take the discussion off-line? Flick me an email and we can continue (I find personality and behavioral testing fascinating!)

                      Tim

                      On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 4:34 AM, Jon Kern <jonkern@...> wrote:
                      Interesting Larry...

                      I have been subjected to numerous of these...
                      MB (ENTP)
                      MB-offshoot that I took with a therapist friend
                      KT
                      and a few others...

                      Oft-times, my own results are a teeter-tottering between two poles. In
                      one test, the instructor said most people align either in a vertical
                      column or along the horizontal row -- I was on the diagonal <g>. In
                      another, I was a strong Quick-Start, yet would take deep dives in being
                      Data Driven.

                      I just figured it was because I was weird... but maybe it was more due
                      to the inability of the systems to fully describe my "type?"
                      Larry Constantine said the following on 5/13/09 7:19 AM:
                      >
                      >
                      > Tim wrote:
                      >
                      > >However, rather than rely on the pop-culture meaning of right/left
                      > brain being thinking/feeling, I'd prefer to rely on the
                      > Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers Briggs survey - it's actually
                      > based on some half-decent research (allbeit 50 odd years old now).<
                      >
                      > I don’t mean to be the perpetual rain maker, but, this is just another
                      > flavor of pop-culture psychobabble. The Myers-Briggs and its related
                      > Kiersey Temperament Sorter are based on Jungian psychoanalytic theory,
                      > which, along with Freudian psychoanalytic theory, is taken less and
                      > less seriously these days. Most of the early personality theories,
                      > even the ones for which reasonably reliable instruments were
                      > developed, have largely been supplanted by evidenced-based personality
                      > models, particularly the now generally accepted five-factor model.
                      >
                      > Frankly, the MB and KTS are fun at a cocktail-party level (“I’ll tell
                      > you my type if you’ll tell me yours” “Well, what can you expect from
                      > an ISTJ”) and remain immensely popular in management circles (in part
                      > because there are free versions of the KTS and no training, licensing,
                      > or fees are required to use them, unlike the more industrial strength
                      > instruments like the MMPI) and no doubt also owing in part to their
                      > somewhat simplistic categorization of people into “types”. In any
                      > case, they are not to be taken too seriously, certainly not compared
                      > to the more recent findings in neuroscience and cognitive science—even
                      > in their popularized packages.
                      >
                      > Only Introversion-extraversion from the MB remains as a generally
                      > accepted valid dimension of personality trait. As I’ve said before in
                      > this and other forums, a psychometrically weak test with little or no
                      > independent validity and based on unscientific theory is hardly a good
                      > grounding for significant insight into ourselves and each other. Among
                      > colleagues who work in this field, MB and KTS “types” are regarded as
                      > little better than astrology, garnering comments resembling the
                      > oft-quoted /Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy/—“Mostly harmless.”
                      > (Although there is debate about that.)
                      >
                      > Amidst all that rhetorical rain, I confess I have learned things from
                      > using the KTS, but I suspect this has more to do with the process and
                      > context within which it was used than from the validity of the
                      > typology or the measurement instrument. I have seen completely
                      > discredited “tests,” such as the Luscher Color Test, yield interesting
                      > and useful results in the hands of skilled therapists.
                      >
                      > But, we are getting pretty far afield from agility or usability…
                      >
                      > --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
                      >
                      > Director, Lab:USE Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
                      > (www.labuse.org)
                      >
                      > Professor, Department of Mathematics & Engineering
                      >
                      > University of Madeira | Funchal, Portugal
                      >
                      >


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