You know sometimes it’s a little thing that grabs my attention. You see I’m making my way through this material on emotions and the hard-wiring of the brain, fascinating stuff that I’ve been following for years, okay I’m a geek, but it is Very Cool, and comes this reference to a person who is an ‘organisational psychologist’. And I must admit I just had to stop right there, I was simply no longer receiving input. Frankly I was blissed out. No really. That term tells me that there are now people out there who study how organizations work–and by study I mean apply real scientific methods, not just posture and guess. And I’m absolutely delighted to know that such a person exists, let alone a whole area of study.
Now that reaction may seem unusual, so maybe I should take a second and explain myself. You see I was in my first committee when I was about fourteen, and there was an unbroken run of that sort of thing until not that long ago. All that time I was curious about how this thing actually worked, so I became a bit of a group-process junkie, reading what I could find about how good groups supposedly function, developing my own understanding, trying things out. But what I came to realise was that none of the material I was reading had any connection to experimental data. Now that’s all well and good, but that means the opinions I was reading were only that. Opinions. And my own experience leads me to consider that opinion-based suggestions can only get me so far. And exactly like in the help-yourself mega-industry, those opinions can range from common sensical, through merely silly and self-serving, all the way to downright spiteful and dangerous (don’t get me started on that vile little corner of the self-help world where they house the ‘sick people are sick because they didn’t think right’ school of thought, I’m not sure I could express how unpleasant it is to have that pointed at you when you’re really sick and could use a bit of help). But almost none of those opinions have been informed by reproducible results from careful experiments. Anecdote, conjecture, firm opinion aplenty of course, often masquerading as fact. For years I knew that was about the best I could hope for. But this is very different. Organisational psychologist, social psychologist… That means real study, real data, reproducible results. And it’s kind of silly how uplifted I am by that.
I guess I’m having one of those ‘I lived long enough to see it and how cool is that’ moments. I’m sure I’ll get over it. I know I’ll certainly enjoy doing a bit of reading in a while. But right now I think I’m going to sit here and just enjoy the thought.