So far I have focused on a researcher’s life. This new series of posts titled ‘researcher ramblings’, are my views and perspectives of my life as a researcher. This first post has demanded a lot of introspection!
Our life experience, people around us, our job, shape the way we interact with our world. Remember that friend you had who said a certain word in a funny way? Next thing you know, you were saying it like that as well! Similarly, if you are in a certain kind of profession, you typically had to train for it, and it slipped into your everyday life without you noticing it.
My answer was, ‘the ability to think in a critical way’.
At that point, I gave this answer and walked away. In this post, I’d like to explain it, particularly from the point of cognitive research.
So when this sub group interacts with people they are always cautious not to judge on face value. They know from their research that even though you are studying one thing, there will always be influencing factors and confounding factors no one has noticed yet. So, if your friend is a cognitive researcher and you told him/ her that you had trouble with your partner, they would typically look at all the factors you are talking about (what you fight about and how you feel), look at the factors from your partners point of view, then factor in the fact that there would be factors no one has noticed yet, and thennn give a response. Talking to this sub-group of people is always insightful to me! Personal things get an objective look. There are no problems. Just hypothesis that need to be put to test.
Another characteristic of the broad researcher-like-thinking-group is bluntness of questions. While most people just infer and keep things to themselves, this group needs to verify for proof.
If they suspect you are in a bad mood, they will ask you if you are. If they suspect you are withdrawing from loved ones, they will ask you when was the last time you met with friends (or significant others). They don’t assume or guess much. And they definitely don’t act based on guesswork. I have actually had many instances where this group of people has provided me with just the social support I need – to talk, have ice cream, or just a hug, because they waited long enough and collected data on what I was feeling, and what I needed before acting on it. Again, I don’t think people outside this group give bad support, but I always find this group more insightful.
I’m surrounded by them…
They collect enough information before deciding something. You can’t make a wrong first impression with them, because one impression is never enough for them anyways. Unfortunately for the film industry though, this also means that most of them wouldn’t believe in love at first sight (sorry!). I wonder if such an organization of thoughts is just a trait that is present in the general population and then refined further by research training. Hence, is more highlighted in researchers. They use this kind of thinking on an everyday basis. There is always some mark that needs to be met before a claim is made. It should satisfy an argument. It should meet a criteria. It should cross the .05 mark of significance. Even then, there is always scope for error. Even if you meet your alpha value of .05, it still means that 5 times out of 100, your judgement could be wrong.
I think an indication of a good researcher would be to extend this mental flexibility to everyday life and interactions with people.
If we collect enough data before deciding something, and if our mind is rigorous enough to know what criteria holds good for what phenomenon, we would have fewer defenses, more accurate worldviews and much better coping in our life.
If we can interact with people and things knowing that no matter how certain we are, there is always a 5 in 100 chance that this is not the case, we would be more at ease with the ambiguity of our world.
To know more about my life as a researcher, check out my previous posts 🙂
“I had Fun” – Why this line is so special to cognitive scientists.
Monday Morning Blues – A researcher’s monday morning blues come on any day! 😉
50 Shades of Research – Everything you will have to do…and more!
I have the…Moves? – Why this blog?