Thursday, 24 September 2009

Cylon Enneagram

I went to an Area Dean's Day about the Enneagram on Tuesday. It turned out to be an extremely interesting session.
The Enneagram is another tool for thinking about personality - a bit like Myers-Briggs with kabbalistic overtones. We were asked to stand around a sheet with candles and image flows which looked worryingly like a pentagram...
Although a number of us may have had some scepticism about the model, it did provide some interesting insights. I discovered that I was a number three, which means that I am an achiever or performer focussed on the need to succeed in fulfilling tasks - with a temptation to please everyone - which does have a certain ring of truth...
Critics will point out that the Enneagram is similar to other models of personality in that it exhibits internal consistency - perhaps because it defines its own terms which creates an internal logic. There is also something called the Barnum or Forer effect which is that most people tend to agree with random personality statements (like those produced by astrologers) if they follow certain patterns, for example:
  • the subject believes that the analysis applies only to them
  • the subject believes in the authority of the evaluator
  • the analysis lists mainly positive traits
Now I may sound a bit cynical about this, but I'm really not. The Enneagram of Personality doesn't need to reflect the eternal nature of the universe in order to work. It contains some really valuable observations and can be really heplful - as long as you don't allow analysis to become a self-fulfilling prophesy...
It is particularly useful in reminding us that:
a) we all have different personalities, and
b) we all respond differently to stress and have different needs
Now as a fan of Battlestar Galactica I know that there are actually twelve humanoid cylon models - each with their own distinct personality - the final five and the eight that they made. Add these to the original centurions and you've got the basis for a whole other model of personality - a Cylon Enneagram.
Armed with this insight of ancient kabbalistic wisdom, I turn to Wikipedia to check which cylon I might be...
Turns out that number threes (or D'Annas) are creative and keen to uncover secrets. They make good reporters, scientists or explorers. They tend to have a real commitment to the welfare of their people. On the negative side, they have a slight messianic tendency and as leaders can be prone to making decisions without consultation - because it's the right thing to do!
Not bad, I'm sure I can see something of myself in there...
An interesting experiment would be to construct a full Cylon Enneagram and test it out. Would it have enough internal consistency and "Barnum Effect" to work?
Not sure, but it would be fun!

No comments: