If you're interviewing someone for a job or having a first date, there's only so much you can learn from their resume and social media presence. How can you get a handle on their personality and what kind of person they are as quickly as possible? It turns out there's a fast easy way that only takes a few words.
If you want to know if someone displays a trait, just find a way to ask how common they think it is in others.
For example, if you want to find out if someone is dishonest, ask, "Do you think most people are honest or dishonest?"
Or if it's a co-worker you could ask them if another of their employees is honest. You may learn as much about the rater providing the personality description as the person they are describing.
A study conducted by Wake Forest University professor, Dustin Wood, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that how positively you see others is linked to how happy, kind-hearted and emotionally stable you are.
"Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality," said Wood.
For the study, Wood and his team asked participants to rate the personalities of several acquaintances. The more often that the subjects rated others as kind-hearted, happy, emotionally stable and polite, the more likely they were to rate themselves as having these traits, and the more likely outside evaluators were to agree.
Even when the subjects were tested a year later, the results remained constant. "Seeing others positively reveals our own positive traits," Wood said.
In contrast, negative perceptions of others are linked to higher levels of narcissism and antisocial behavior.
"A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively," Wood says. "The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders."
People tend to see more of their own qualities in others. The generous individual sees others as generous and the selfish person sees others as selfish. So the next time you're interviewing someone, ask them if they think most people are hardworking and honest, and you'll find out how good of an employee they'll be.