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“A型行为者”的个性问题:让个性成为优势

更新时间:2018-11-15 20:36:29 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The problem with 'Type A' personalities
“A型行为者”的个性问题:让个性成为优势

You likely know someone with a “Type A” personality – an ambitious, competitive person striving for success. Perhaps it’s how you would describe yourself.

你可能认识一位“A型行为者”,性格特征为有高度进取心和紧迫感,凡事追求成功。可能这说的就是你自己。

It’s a label that has been applied to powerful, dominant people for decades. But new research suggests the Type A personality might be something of a misnomer.

几十年来,这一标签用于形容强势要人。而新的研究表明,这种个性标签可能有点用词不当。

Researchers from the University of Toronto in Scarborough, Canada say the term can be unhelpful and erroneous, and the way it’s usually applied represents an outdated way of thinking about personality. Here’s why you should think twice about casting yourself as Type A at your next job interview.

来自加拿大士嘉堡的多伦多大学的研究人员称,这一术语无助于理解他人性格,有误导作用,通常以此来评估某个人性格是一种过时的方法。因此下次面试时,你应该再三考虑是否应该将自己形容为A型行为者。

The birth of a myth?

此迷思从何而来?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Type A personalities are characterised by ambition, impatience, and competitiveness, and thought to be susceptible to stress and heart disease. (Type B, meanwhile, is defined by being relaxed, patient and having behaviour that could decrease a risk of heart disease.)

根据牛津英语词典(OED),A型行为者的特征是有高度进取心和紧迫感,性情急躁,据说容易感受压力,易患冠心病。(与之相对,B型行为者的特征是做人悠闲轻松,无紧迫感,不易患有冠心病。)

A pair of American cardiologists came up with the term in the 1950s to describe white middle-class men who had certain personality traits that made them more susceptible to coronary heart problems. (One report in 2012 in the American Journal of Public Health asserted that the research was heavily bankrolled by the cigarette industry to avoid any claims that smoking is bad for you.)

“A型行为者”系20世纪50年代美国心脏病学家弗里德曼(Meyer Friedman)和罗森曼(Roy H. Rosenman)发明的术语,用来指具有易引发冠心病的某类性格特点的中产白人男性。(2012年《美国公共卫生杂志》(American Journal of Public Health)中一份报告断言,该研究受到烟草业的大力资助,使其避免提出吸烟有害健康的主张。)

In the decades since, the term has entered the popular lexicon and people have used it as a way to place themselves into one camp or another. This binary aspect of personality – that you’re naturally either Type A or Type B – was the main finding of a 1989 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

自此以后的数十年里,这一用词成为流行术语,人们以此为自己的性格划分阵营。1989年《人格与社会心理学杂志》(Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)发表一份研究,其中的重大发现是人格的二分性——即你天生不是A型行为者,就是B型行为者,二者必居其一。

But University of Toronto postdoctoral student Michael Wilmot wanted to test if these assumptions are still accurate today. So he and his team decided to replicate older studies and update them with more modern survey methods to see if they would produce the same results. Their findings are due to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

而多伦多大学博士后学生威尔莫特(Michael Wilmot)希望验证这些假设置于今天是否依然准确。因此他和他的团队重做以往的实验,运用更现代的调查方法,看看是否会得出相同的结论。他们的研究结果将发表于《人格与社会心理学杂志》。

The team re-examined archival data from previous surveys of nearly 4,500 people across the US and UK, whom had participated in old Type A surveys years ago. They were unable to achieve similar results that suggested “Type A” is a naturally occurring personality type, and found that personality is better understood as sliding scales of specific traits rather than categories.

1950年代两位心脏病学家想要给因精神压力大易患冠心病的人作一个归类,因此发明了A型行为这样一个名词。威尔莫特研究团队重新考察了英美若干年前的调查档案数据,其中近4500人参与过传统的A型行为者调查。但他们并没有得出“A型行为”是一种天生的性格种类这样的结论。他们的最新研究发现,人的个性特点是因人而异,而不能简单归纳到某个固定种类。v

“People love the idea of categories,” Wilmot says. “Science helps us make sense of the world, and people are the most interesting thing to other people, so it helps to have categories.”

威尔莫特说,“人类喜欢分门别类的概念。科学用这种方法帮助我们了解世界,人类最感兴趣的便是人类同胞,因此也就给人类划分类别。”

Assigning someone a catch-all category can be a problem.

将人们笼统地划到某个类别可能会有问题。

The problem with “being” Type A, Wilmot and his team suggest, is that you can’t really “be” Type A at all. Rather, you can have some Type A traits and not have others, or fall on a spectrum of each trait. Suggesting someone is Type A could be suggesting they have certain personality traits that they don’t even have.

威尔莫特和他的团队表示,问题在于“被列入”A型行为的人不可能是不折不扣的A型人格者。而更可能的是,你可能具备A型行为的某些性格,却没有A型行为的其他特点,或者程度上有很大差别。试想,如果说某人是A型行为者,即是说他们应该有A型行为定义的特定人格特质,但实际上他们却没有。

The original 1989 study used outdated research practices, like dichotomous response formats (“are you this or that?”), as opposed to measuring traits (like competitiveness or impatience) on sliding scales. That’s a more modern approach: many psychologists are wary of tests and giving you a single type, instead favouring ones that explore various dimensions of personality, each of which might be measured on a spectrum.

1989年的研究版本采用的是过时的研究方法,比如二分法回答格式(“你会这样还是那样?”),而非采用浮动计算方法衡量性格特点(比如进取心或性情急躁)。后者是更为现代的问卷调查。当今许多心理学家都避免提供单一类别的测试,而侧重于能探索人的性格特质的多维度调查,在这类调查中,每种性格特质会有程度不等的打分。

“Maybe someone who is achievement-striving may not be irritable or impatient,” says Wilmot. In other words, someone can love competition but not time pressure. But calling someone Type A suggests they love both.

威尔莫特说,“也许有的争强好胜的人并不急躁易怒或性格暴躁。”换句话说,有的人喜爱竞争但不会有时间压力。但是指某些人是A型行为者,即意味他们二者兼具,既进取又性格暴躁,既喜爱竞争但又怕压力。

The trouble with types

分类的麻烦之处

This Type A or B model of behaviour is looked at by many professionals and academics as outdated.

很多专家学者认为将人性格分为A型或B型的行为模型是过时的方法。

Sandra Matz is an assistant professor at Columbia Business School in New York City who’s studied psychometrics and ways to measure personality or cognitive ability. Whether it’s Type A/B or something like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, pigeonholing someone into a type is less useful than examining their various dimensions.

纽约市哥伦比亚大学商学院副教授马茨(Sandra Matz)研究心理测量学以及人格或认知能力的衡量方法。她认为,不论是A型还是B型,或是麦尔斯-布瑞格斯性格分类法(Myers-Briggs Type Indicator),将人的性格类型化,到不如因人而异地研究其性格多样性来得实际。

“Types are just way too crude,” she says. “These kinds of frameworks are super popular because they’re very easy to understand – it’s nice to have a label you can use.”

她说,“分类法太过粗略。这些参照体系之所以很流行,是因为它们极易理解——可以有标签使用的感觉很不错。”

We need ways to describe someone’s personality that aren’t just an unlimited number of adjectives, she says. And when you start assigning CV-ready descriptors to a certain type – like Type A’s “ambitious”, “organised” or “workaholic” – it’s easy to start to see the pitfalls of such a rigid system.

她说,我们用来界定人格的方式不应仅局限于一堆形容词。当人们采用某一类型简历套话,例如A型类的“雄心勃勃”、“井井有条”或“醉心工作”时,很容易看出这种刻板模式的陷阱。

“It’s something of a misconception in how we use personality in the workplace: figuring out which personalities make for an amazing employee,” Matz says. But it should be more about finding “the best match for this specific job”.

马茨说,“对于我们在工作中如何介绍自己的性格,有一个错误观念是,我们要搞清楚作为出色的员工需要哪些性格。”但其实更多的应该是要搞清楚“适合这个具体岗位的最佳性格”。

Personality tests aren’t widely used in hiring, says Paula Harvey at the Society for Human Resource Management. They were popular about 15 years ago but since then she’s noticed a steady decline due to cost and equal opportunity laws.

人力资源管理学会(Society for Human Resource Management)的哈维(Paula Harvey)表示,现在招聘员工一般不采用人格测试。大约15年前,该方法很流行,但她发现从那以后由于成本和平权劳动法,人格测试的应用逐年下降。

“If personality tests are used, it is usually for developmental purposes with current employees.”

“如果采用人格测试,往往是出于研发目的,对现有雇员进行考察。”

What’s a better alternative? Many experts interviewed point to the “Big Five” test. Instead of shoehorning you into a type, it places you somewhere along the spectrum of five sliding scales. (That’s opposed to Myers-Briggs, which does something similar, but then uses those scales to go ahead and assign you a type anyway.)

有更好的办法吗?很多受访专家提到“大五类人格”(Big Five)测试。这种方法并非将人们塞进一个类别,而是按照五大因素两极之间的浮动计算法来评估。(这和麦尔斯-布瑞格斯性格分类法相反,虽然过程有相似之处,但是后者虽然采用浮动计算法,但仍然将被测试者划到特定人格类别中。)

So the next time someone says they’re Type A and brags about how it got them to where they are today, take it with a grain of salt. The real future of personality in the workplace will be less cut-and-dried, with fewer either/or binaries of Type A or B. Instead, it’ll be about fitting the right personality with the right environment.

因此下次听到人家说他们是A型人格,夸夸其谈说他们能有今天全靠这种个性,可要留心。未来工作中受重视的个性不会那么明确了当,没有什么非此即彼的AB二分性。相反,而是个性与其工作环境是否刚好合适。

“People who have a job that matches their personality are happier in the long term and perform better,” Matz says. “It’s not about just trying to find this one profile.”

马茨说,“人们的性格与他的工作相适应时,长期来看精神会更快乐,表现也更出色。因此不仅仅在于想法把自己定位于某种类型后给出一份简历。”

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