Friday, October 01, 2010

Religious score high on non-agression and naivete

When my roommate Mery (now Sr. Mary Isabel of the Angels) was preparing to be a nun, she had to undergo psychological evaluation with the psychologist her order sent her to.  It was interesting.  The psychologist told her that the long multiple-choice question test she'd taken was designed to measure her personality in all sorts of different areas, and he was checking to see if she fell within the normal range for each area.

There are two areas, he told her, on which future religious tend to score higher than average (though still within what's considered normal range.) One area is "non-aggression". That makes sense; monks and nuns aren't soldiers.

The other area is "naivete". HEY! I thought when I heard this. Religious aren't naive! But the psychologist explained that this didn't mean naivete in the usual sense. It means future religious are more likely to think the best of people and assume their actions had good motives.

That sounds fine to me. In fact, I read an argument somewhere-- I wish I could remember who wrote it-- that if you interpret another's actions in the most sympathetic light possible, you're most likely to have a good understanding of that person. For people don't think of their actions as evil; there's always some good they're trying to attain, though they may be doing it in the wrong way or subordinating a greater good to a lesser one. If you look for the good motive you'll have better comprehension and be closer to the truth.

Not that I claim to know from experience... :)

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