Sunday, March 11, 2007

Oh! You're mad at me?!

Little known fact: Steve and I took the Foreign Service Exam back in the days of pre-law school, no kids. Part of the written exam was a psychological inquiry in the form of multiple choice statements that they kept rewording, to see if you would change your answers. This weekend Steve reminded me of one of our favorite questions from this part of the test.

You are often surprised to learn that friends and family members are very upset with you.

This is a beautiful, bad question. How do you answer it? If I am surprised that people are upset with me, that makes me sound unaware and oblivious. If I'm not surprised, that's just a blatant admission that people are upset with me a lot.

What would you have said?


Alice said...

Answering "never" doesn't have to mean that you know that people are often upset with you. It can also mean that people are never upset with you (which certainly must be the case with you) and therefore there is nothing to be surprised about. It's about semantics silly. :)

Neil and Diana said...

It is a horribly worded question. I think I would have rolled my eyes in disgust, moved on, then gone back to it and tried to approach it with the mindset of the test-writers.

Nancy said...

I would have answered rarely. I had a question once in a child pschycology (totally spelled that wrong) class on a test, it was "I always tell the truth" True or False, then we graded them in class, and the teacher said anyone who put true is a liar. I had put true, I'm a freshman at BYU, aren't we always suppoesed to tell the truth? I guess I lied.

Erich said...

I love tests. I love subjective tests the most. I would have put never, because, I'm never surprised when peeps are mad at me. I always just assume it, then move on. Its much easier.

Abby said...

That question is a headache. I think I would have gone for the nice middle answer, "sometimes." People are sometimes mad at you. You are sometimes surprised. Very nice.

Christen said...

I initially wanted to say "sometimes" but then I reread the question and the "Often Surprised" and "Very Upset" parts got me thinking...then I wanted to say "never" I don't think I ever realize anyone is often very upset with me?

Then I decided I agree with Neil & Diana I think I would have rolled my eyes, moved on and gone back!

Thomas said...

I guess I'm kinda oblivious, cuz I woulda answered Always, as in I'm always surprised to learn that people are upset with me, because I think I'm pretty cool and even too nice sometimes.

I wonder what kind of information they're actually inferring from a person's answer on this question?

n said...

i think one should assume the plainest reading which is that "often" modifies "surprised to learn" (and not simply "surprised"). this obviously isn't the case when subbing any of the answers for "often" but then we're not filling a blank.. in conclusion, you shouldn't have to effortfully gardenpath if there is an obvious primary meaning. the happy answer is never.

pflower10 said...

I think I would have put Never. I am NEVER often surprised at anything. Who do these people think they are?

So I am curious to see if you passed.

pflower10 said...

I have to correct myself....I AM often surprised at how stupid our Government can be (this is not a political statement on our current war situation, this is about taxes and tax cuts and program cuts and raises to people who make these decisions and don't give raises to the people that deserve them and then tell us that we have a surplus at the end of the year and wouldn't we like to spend it on a statue). You know what I mean, don't you?

pflower10 said...

Did I mention that I am cranky today?

Jami said...


You amaze me. How do you keep thinking of such fun original stuff to blog about?? How do you do it? Look at the interesting dialog you've sparked here.

I think whoever wrote this question should find another job. I wonder if the question was authored by a single person, or if it took a group of people to come up with this??

See you Thursday.