Pop Psych Again

Readers know mariner enjoys pop psychology’s simplistic but somehow relevant descriptions of various personalities. He has developed another shortcut description for the mind’s many hardwired behaviors.

There are two types of problem solving patterns: one is called analog and the other is called algorithm. An analog is a formula that finds final value based on other values that may be introduced during the process. A simple example is a need to know what the weather is like before one can decide what to do. Another example is when computers learn from repeated processes; each time the analog is run, new information identifies relevant facts and discards irrelevant values. Eventually, a finite value is determined.

A person who problem-solves with an analog is a person who doesn’t know the final solution so they begin filling in values in an effort to know what the solution might be – an unknown at the beginning. The human pattern is a person searching for some fact like what shirt to buy, what carpet to select, what destination for a vacation, browsing in a library looking for something to read or any situation where the final value is unknown. This is a repetitive process and is prone to indecision.

A person who knows what the solution is upfront will execute an algorithm to accomplish the desired, already known conclusion. This person has one solution in mind and does not consider variations. Simply, the person constructs a formula of activity that leads to the predefined answer. The algorithm process is prone to failure if the final solution in fact does not exist. For example, how many times has one gone to the pizza shop for a cheese pizza only to discover the pizza shop is closed?

To humanize this a bit, generally, male shoppers will know exactly what they want, walk into a store, find the item, pay for it and leave. Generally, women will walk into a store looking for variables that may reveal what the item should be. Mariner dislikes depending on sex as a constant but his experience has shown the tendencies to be sexually oriented.

Mariner’s wife uses a term, ‘male pattern blindness’. Basically, it means if the product is not where mariner thought it should be, or its size is unexpected, or its display has been changed, mariner will not find it. Sadly, this is true. Mariner leaves home with a distinct image of the solution and if it isn’t there, the algorithm fails.

On the other hand, mariner’s wife has been searching for new carpeting. She is still searching . . .

When mariner’s wife read the draft of this post, she suggested the analog/algorithm was not new; it is a behavior difference that goes back to the days of hunter/gatherer.

Ancient Mariner

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