Author Topic: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes  (Read 12538 times)

Offline dot-matrix

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The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes

Youíre on a Road

When I was 26, I went out to dinner with a highly respected psychologist. Over a glass of wine, while waiting for our table, we discussed conversations people have, when they get to know each other.

He asked my permission to share a ďpsychological survey,Ē saying that he would explain what it meant after I gave four descriptions. Being of an age and in my ďtake any challenge phase,Ē I agreed. Here are the four ďquestionsĒ my PhD friend asked.

1.   Youíre walking on a road. Itís your road. Tell me about it.
2.   As you walk, you pass a body of water, describe it.
3.   Directly in your path is an empty bottle. Whatís your response to it?
4.   You continue until you find yourself facing a wall that crosses your road perpendicularly. What do you do?
 
NOTE: If you want to answer for yourself, now is the time. My answers and the interpretation come next.

Iím Walking on My Road

What follows is the conversation as best I remember. The memory is clear because Iíve shared this story so many times.

PhD: Youíre walking on a road. Itís your road. Tell me about it.
ME: Itís a country road ó blacktop in parts, dirt in others ó with a 2-foot shoulder, but thereís plenty of room to pull off to go exploring, if you want to. On both sides of the road there are trees, but on one side, a break in the trees sometimes lets you see all the way to forever. The grass by the road is populated with colorful wildflowers.
The skies are glorious with clouds and color. The sun shines on the road most days. It only rains when it needs to. Then the sky turns dark, dark grayĖ a color that turns leaves that bright, special of shade of yellow-green that makes trees seem more than three-dimensional.

PhD: As you walk, you pass a body of water, describe it.
ME: Itís a lake. Itís still. It goes far deeper than people think. Thereís a dock with rowboat, and the water is clear and reflective blue-black in the moonlight. Itís the kind of water you would want to go skinny dipping in.

PhD: Directly in your path is an empty bottle. Whatís your response to it?
ME: Pick it up and set it gently alongside the edge of the road.

PhD: You continue until you find yourself facing a wall that crosses your road perpendicularly. What do you do?
ME: Climb it, of course.

My PhD friend told me what his answers were the first time that he heard this little test. Then he explained what each part is supposed to tell about. He said itís a survey of attitudes.
 
The road is your attitude about life. A man I know described his life as interstate highway with a car wreck. That also described his real life.

The body of water is your attitude toward feelings, intimacy, and sex. The same guy, no kidding, said his body of water was a stagnant pool.

The bottle is your attitude toward other people. The choice is to move it or leave it alone. The man Iíve been talking about walked around the bottle.

The wall is your attitude toward problems. The highway-walking, stagnant-pool, avoid-the-bottle guy said, ďTurn around and go back. There could be guys with guns on the other side.Ē Iím not making this up. He really said that.
Of course, this isnít a scientific test, and no valid truth can be assumed from it. Yet, Iíve shared this ďreal-life memeĒ hundreds of times since that dinner ó with people I know well and people I just met. No one has ever said the interpretation didnít ring true ó even the stagnan-pool guy, said it was ďon the money.Ē

I share it here because, itís a great conversation starter. It works in most any group. Also Iím interested in how you would answer. Thatís why I went first, thinking maybe you might go second, or third or . . . twenty-seventh . . .
Life is not a dress rehearsal

Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2007, 02:58:38 am »


   1.  My road was a softly turning country lane, of only one lane, with soft grass along the sides, and a tree line on the right of evergreens and mountains in the background, and the left was a river running along, and cattails and berry vines along on certain areas.
   2.  The body of Water was the river that emptied from a beautiful lake.
   3.  I was curious why anyone would leave a bottle just laying along on the side of the road...It seemed trashy and careless, and mean.
   4.  The wall was one i looked at,, and was only thinking i hope i can get over that.



     Beautiful mind

Offline Kerry

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2007, 10:12:07 am »
This is fascinating, Dottie. I believe my responses are spot-on for me:

1. The road I am walking along is more like a country lane, paved with pebbles. It is a very winding road with many twists and turns, but entirely flat, with no hills to climb. The path itself is clear and free of obstacles, even though each side is quite overgrown with much shrubbery and tall trees lining the path. I walk along this path happily and light heartedly at night. The path is lit by a huge, golden, full moon. It's either summer or spring, because I can smell the sweet scent of blossom on the air, primarily honeysuckle and jasmine. I can hear the joyous chirping of happy little crickets in the undergrowth. Just through the trees to the left of the path is a beautiful, tranquil lake, reflecting the light of the full moon.

2. The path I follow takes me along the shoreline of a beautiful, tranquil lake. It's not a huge lake. I can see the trees and hills on the other side, in the moonlight. It is very peaceful. I can hear gentle little wavelets lapping at the shore. The surface of the water reflects the light of the beautiful full moon. I get very loving, welcoming vibes from the lake. It feels like my spiritual mother.

3. The bottle is discarded by the side of the path, almost hidden by the undergrowth. It is dark green grass - an old red-wine bottle. It's been there so long, it virtually merges with the landscape. I stay away from it. To me, it looks like an ideal home for a large, nasty spider. I feel that if I were to pick-up the bottle, the spider would bite me and hurt me badly, maybe resulting in my death.

4. The wall is substantial in height and structure. It is made of large stone blocks and is approximately 10 feet tall. I intuitively have a feeling that if I walk along the wall a little to my right, I will come to a hole I can crawl through and continue on my journey. Sure enough, my intuition is correct. I soon come across a hole that's just big enough for me to crawl through, and I continue merrily on my way.

I grew-up on the shore of a lake, which emptied into the ocean, nearby. The path and the lake I described are real. I have many happy memories of my childhood by the lake. The wall is also a real wall, not in the same place as the path/lake, but a real wall nonetheless, from my past. In real life there is a hole to crawl through. My bottle is just as real as the lake and the path and the wall for me, even though it does not actually exist. It is real for me in that it represents splendidly, exactly the way I view people and relationships. "Once burned"!!!

Thanks again, Dottie. I enjoyed that!  :D   
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 10:29:15 am by Kerry »
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Offline delalluvia

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2007, 06:02:40 pm »
Not sure how this can be interpreted.  My road is an ancient road, cobblestoned, passing open planted and fallow fields and rich forested hillsides, shady groves and dappled sunlight, birds singing and shrines hung with garlands just off the path and farm houses in the distance.

The road passes within view of a large tranquil ocean in the distance and a deep lake, surrounded by forest just below.

There is a bottle in my path - I look simply to see if it is empty or not, what it is a bottle of, then I carefully kick it aside so it won't be in anyone else's path (I did this just now on my exercise walk around my neighborhood with my cat).

The wall ahead of me is old, rocky, I can see over it but I see no reason to keep following the road if I don't have to.  I turn aside at the wall and keep going in another direction.

What's it mean?

[shrug]

Offline ednbarby

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2007, 04:11:16 pm »
1.   Youíre walking on a road. Itís your road. Tell me about it.  My road is West Lake Road, in Canandaigua, New York.  It's the road I lived on from the ages of 13 to 22 (the last 4 of which I was mostly at college four hours away).  I used to walk a 2-mile stretch of it regularly, through all seasons.  I know it like the back of my hand.
2.   As you walk, you pass a body of water, describe it.  It is Canandaigua Lake.  Formed by glaciars, it is much like a mountain lake, even though the area it's in is called 'the Drumlin hills.'  It is 19 miles long by 2.5 miles wide at its widest point, on which I lived.  Its color changes with the sky, but on a sunny day it's a deep, midnight blue.
3.   Directly in your path is an empty bottle. Whatís your response to it?  I pick it up to take home and recycle, or at least to throw in a trash can if I pass one by.
4.   You continue until you find yourself facing a wall that crosses your road perpendicularly. What do you do?  I go around it if I can.  If it goes too far in either direction, I turn back and head for home.
No more beans!

Offline ednbarby

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2007, 04:13:36 pm »
Oh, boy.  I just went back and read the interpretation.  Felt pretty good about myself until I got to the bottle part.  Not only do I not want to leave other people alone, I want to discard them.

 :o
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Scott6373

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2007, 05:22:21 pm »
1.   Youíre walking on a road. Itís your road. Tell me about it.  My road is West Lake Road, in Canandaigua, New York.  It's the road I lived on from the ages of 13 to 22 (the last 4 of which I was mostly at college four hours away).  I used to walk a 2-mile stretch of it regularly, through all seasons.  I know it like the back of my hand.
2.   As you walk, you pass a body of water, describe it.  It is Canandaigua Lake.  Formed by glaciars, it is much like a mountain lake, even though the area it's in is called 'the Drumlin hills.'  It is 19 miles long by 2.5 miles wide at its widest point, on which I lived.  Its color changes with the sky, but on a sunny day it's a deep, midnight blue.
3.   Directly in your path is an empty bottle. Whatís your response to it?  I pick it up to take home and recycle, or at least to throw in a trash can if I pass one by.
4.   You continue until you find yourself facing a wall that crosses your road perpendicularly. What do you do?  I go around it if I can.  If it goes too far in either direction, I turn back and head for home.


I have a Canandaigua coffee mug...Got it when we went there to our niece's college graduation.

Offline ednbarby

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2007, 07:23:38 pm »
I have a Canandaigua coffee mug...Got it when we went there to our niece's college graduation.

Ain't it purdy there?

And does the mug say "The Chosen Place" on it?  (Canandaigua is supposed to be Iroquoi, I believe, for that.)
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Offline Amber

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2007, 11:18:11 pm »
1.   Youíre walking on a road. Itís your road. Tell me about it. My road is like Highway 41 in Kananaskis - it has a lot of turns in it, the road has a few pot holes, there are beautiful mountains in view at all times, wonderful wildflowers, wildlife and has a lot of exits to beautiful sites.
2.   As you walk, you pass a body of water, describe it. It's a small creek, that runs down from a mountain, is ice cold,  runs quickly over rocks and has tree lined banks.
3.   Directly in your path is an empty bottle. Whatís your response to it? Pick it up and carry it with me until I can find the right place to put it.
4.   You continue until you find yourself facing a wall that crosses your road perpendicularly. What do you do?  I'd analyze the situation to find the easiest way over.

--
I just did this with my husband as well.  Man oh man were his answers scary - there were (1)  A street with cracked sidewalks on either side, shade trees and where everyone knows everyone else, and with a Boston Market close by *lol* (2) A puddle (3) Walk by it and ignore it and (4)  Wonder who the heck built a wall in my way.   ::)  Oh dear, oh dear.
"... and Ennis, not big on endearments, said what he said to his horses and daughters, little darlin." ~Proulx

"Life is not a succession of urgents nows; it is a listless trickle of why-should-I's."  Johnny Depp as the Second Earl of Rochester.

Offline Lynne

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Re: The Road: A Simple 4-Part Psychological Survey of Attitudes
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2007, 03:31:19 am »
This is a great quiz, Dottie!  Thank you!

1.  Youíre walking on a road. Itís your road. Tell me about it.
My road is an interstate highway - stretching infinitely in both directions.  So if this is my 'attitude about life' then I hope it means I see opportunity in all directions; it's worrisome, though that I'm not at a crossroads with more than two choices, I think.

2.  As you walk, you pass a body of water, describe it.
It's the ocean - maybe Oregon or Maine - a rocky shoreline frigid water.  If this is my attitude toward feelings, intimacy, and sex, hmm...I like the infinite possibilities, but there's also a cycle, regularity that I think is important to me.  The rocky shoreline probably means that I will usually complicate things.

3.  Directly in your path is an empty bottle. Whatís your response to it?
I pick it up, make sure there's no note inside  ;) and put it in my bag to dispose of properly later.  If the bottle is my 'attitude toward other people' then I wonder if it's codependency issues coming to light? or a desire to take care of people when it's in my power to do so.  I do know that I'm incapable of walking by an empty bottle in real life without picking it up.

4.  You continue until you find yourself facing a wall that crosses your road perpendicularly. What do you do?
Depends on the gear in my possession...if I have a rope, I'm going over; if I have a shovel, I'm digging under it; if I have a map, I'm finding a route around it.  If this is my 'attitude toward problems,' then I guess I try to be pragmatic...going back is not a good option.
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