There are many different classifications for classifying people. We like to push ourselves and other people into boxes. Why do we do that? What are the psychological and sociological consequences of these divisions?
Why do we like to push each other and ourselves into boxes?
We want to understand everything and control our environment as much as possible. We look for an explanation for all the behavior of our fellow man that is ,abnormal, in our eyes (that is, not the way we would behave). The different classifications help us with this: you are so short-tempered because you are choleric or you do not understand this because you are gifted or you like to eat meat because you have blood group O or you cannot do that because you are introverted, etc…. With this we try to make the behavior of other people predictable: if I know why you act like that, I won’t be surprised if you do that again next time.
Our social interactions are largely determined by expectations. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know how someone else is going to react, you become insecure and you question your own behavior. You try different behaviors one after the other (trial and error method). For example, think of a job application where all kinds of personal questions are asked: because you want them to have a positive image of you, you will try to behave as they expect. Because the people opposite you are strangers, this becomes difficult and you may find yourself nuancing certain statements during the conversation until you notice that they do not come across as ,abnormal,.
It gives us certainty and confidence that we know how someone is going to react. That is why we unconsciously look for personality traits when we get to know each other: we then use prejudices to anticipate the behavior of our opponent (and thus tailor our behavior to the person opposite us). For example: he must be lazy because he is so fat or she must have little self-confidence because her hair is unkempt or he must be very strict because his eyebrows are so bushy or she must be smart because she wears glasses, etc. … . These are all assumptions based on prejudices (often caused by incorrect assumptions in the past, but that is fodder for another article). It is clear
why we classify others : we want to ensure that social interaction runs smoothly. But why do we push ourselves into boxes? Why do we look for websites about personality? Why do we like to take tests to see who we are? Why do we ask others for advice and confirmation? We are the only ones who can know ourselves best. Yet in practice it turns out that we are the only ones who do not know ourselves. We often do not understand our own behavior and are surprised when others confront us with our own behavior.
Everyone has uncertain periods in his or her life when he or she looks for answers. This is often in response to a specific event (birthday, farewell, accident, changes in personal life, etc…). Suddenly you stop and wonder what to do. These are often events that you have not yet experienced and for which you therefore have no ,pre-programmed, behavior. To determine how to respond, look for who you are. This way you know how to react now and how you should react to a similar event in the future. In happy moments you will have less need to look for answers.
What are the consequences of these classifications?
Boxes help us to anticipate behavior and determine our own behavior, but at the same time divisions impose limitations. It is a well-known fact that people perform as much as is expected of them. For example, if you tell a class of students that the majority will not pass a tough exam, this will happen.
We learn to live as it fits within our box. If a child is labeled gifted, the child will focus on intellectual development and pay less attention to social development . While a child labeled as a sports enthusiast will excel more in sports and less in theoretical subjects. Our personality will also develop in the same way: we only develop the skills that we use a lot. If at some point we don’t need language, we will forget how to speak it.
Although it is sociologically very healthy to categorize each other and ourselves, I believe that the limitations we place on each other and ourselves are unhealthy. Many opportunities are not taken advantage of because the expectations are not there. Maybe a child who is good at playing football can be a musical genius at the same time, but this opportunity is not taken advantage of because the parents do not expect it?
We also impose the same boundaries on ourselves. Whether it suits us or not, we like to feel the safe walls of our box around us. For example, a Sagittarius woman who believes in astrology will be less likely to start a family than a Cancer woman because domesticity does not fit within her horoscope.
That is why I am not in favor of dividing people into boxes. Children in particular are hindered in their development. Their options are deleted until only the options that fit the box remain.
To anticipate behavior, we can use the personality of the person in front of us who is more than the person in the box. A person is more than the sum of the personality traits we perceive. For example, an introvert may enjoy speaking in front of a group but become siled in small groups.
Some examples of layouts
- introvert vs extrovert
- blood groups
- external characteristics such as hair color, hair (curly or straight), skin color, size, body type,…
- choleric, sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic
- earth, air, fire and water
- vata, pitta and kapha (ayurveda)
Layouts are not bad and promote social interaction. However, it becomes a problem when we force people into boxes and ignore certain characteristics because they do not fit the personality description.
Some classifications use intermediate types: these classifications come closest to reality. review