I spent all day at a conference Saturday at the University of Tennessee on the use of a psychologicial instrument, the Personality Assessment Inventory
or PAI. The author of the instrument and a subsequent book on the topic,
Leslie Morey, was there to explain how to use the test to evaluate personality traits. The workshop was informative, the presenter solid in his knowledge and the material was interesting.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am not very happy with the political correctness of the majority of liberals in the psychological field. I try hard to avoid workshops where I will be bombarded with politically correct positions about men as perpetrators and women as victims to the negative traits of conservatives. Why, you might ask do I avoid such drivel? Because I have been bombarded with that viewpoint throughout my career and do not want to hear the conservative bashing that often goes on in seminars like this. I go to workshops simply to learn the material outlined in the brochure like scoring and using a test and I do it only because I need to meet the Continuing Eduation requirements for psychologists in Tennessee. I can read, after all, and would get more from a book much of the time than from a lecture. If I wanted to hear about politics, I would be at a covention for that discussion. But I digress.
I did not hear one bad joke about Bush, politics or any other crack for three-fourths of the lecture. Just as I was falling into a false sense that perhaps I had found the perfect workshop where the topic was adhered to and no mention of politics was forthcoming, there it was. As the speaker explained one of the scales of the PAI having to do with treatment motivation, he quipped, "If the scale is too high, the person is too rigid and set in their ways, like Donald Rumsfeld." So there it was, I was hoping I could make it through the seminar without the cracks and putdowns of the current administration but it was not going to happen. To the speaker's credit, he did mention that he worked at Texas A & M and Robert Gates
was one of the best administrators he had ever seen. However, the use of Rumsfeld's name to make a point about the negative aspects of a test score on a scale measuring rigidity was not science or fact. It was an opinion and was not necessary.
So is Rumsfeld rigid? I don't think that rigid is the right word. If rigid means uncompromising, demanding of high quality work, sticking to your guns as an agent of change, then yes. But the use of the term rigid by the speaker above makes these traits sound negative, when they can indeed, be positive in certain settings, like in the military. My problem with some psychological tests and their inventors, is that what they perceive to be psychological well-adjustment in their eyes is not always what we need in times of war, in the military or in the society in general. Only history will tell us if Rumsfeld's traits were really rigid, or if they were the traits that we needed at the time but cast aside because we misinterpreted the traits of a leader in a negative light. By contrast, who would decribe the civil rights leaders or suffragettes as "rigid" even though they stuck to their guns for decades?