Any job that a person does for a long time will inevitably start to seep into their personality and affect, at least in small ways, how they behave in their personal lives. At least I’ve found that to be the case with me. I’ve been working in market research for 15 years, ten of which have been here at RMS. I have always been a naturally analytical person, and working as a professional analyst has only accentuated that trait, for good or bad. Every now and then I’ll catch myself doing or saying something that normal people (non-researchers) probably wouldn’t. Here are a few examples:
- 1. When talking with friends and family members, I regularly ask them to clarify what they say to me by using rating scales, leading to conversations like:
Other Person: “When are we going to get dinner? I’m getting hungry.”
Me: “On a scale from one to five, where one is just faintly hungry and five is that soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes, how hungry are you?”
- 2. When I’m in stores, especially grocery stores, I spend a lot of time observing other shoppers to see what they are putting in their carts and how long they appear to deliberate choosing items. Like any experienced field observer, I try to be subtle about it, and I don’t think I’ve been caught yet. At least, if anyone has noticed me spying, they’ve been nice enough not to call store security or pepper spray me.
- 3. I have become sort of a limited-purpose semi-expert in some industries where I’ve never worked, but had research clients in. This leads to me dropping odd bits of data and trivia into conversation, much like Cliff Clavin from “Cheers.” (In truth, I always did that, but the job gives me a wider collection and a wider variety of facts to throw around.) I once surprised some of my friends by explaining in detail the difference between PPO and EPO health insurance plans because I needed to know the distinction for a project. I have also been known to cite miscellaneous facts about fast food cash registers, college student housing or assisted living facilities in the course of casual conversation. As with the other shoppers in grocery stores, my friends and family have been nice enough not to pepper spray me when I do that, despite the fact that they would probably be justified.
- 4. Spending an evening in a dark room, watching people through a one-way mirror and taking notes on their conversations has begun to seem perfectly normal to me.
- 5. When polls come out at election time, I’m always more interested in the poll methodology and trending pattern than in which candidate is in the lead.
- 6. I am always inquisitive, mostly because that is my nature, but also because the job has ingrained in me the habit of always asking questions and wanting to know more. This is mostly a good thing, but occasionally it can get a little excessive:
Other Person: “That was a good movie.”
Me: “Why do you say that?”
Other Person: “I don’t know, I just liked it.”
Me: “What was the best part?”
Other Person: “I’m not sure, I…”
Me: “What aspects of it could have been improved?”
Other Person: “I don’t…Look, it was just a good movie, okay?!”
Me: “Let’s put it this way; on a scale from one to five, where one is ‘Gigli’…”
- 7. My blood pressure goes up when I see survey questions where the choices aren’t mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.
- 8. When I see advertising, I immediately try to assess what target market they are trying to address before giving any consideration about whether it appeals to me personally. If I don’t match the target, it occasionally makes me question my own media choices (My personal rule of thumb: If I see more than one Revlon commercial during a TV show, I immediately turn the channel to ESPN.)
- 9. When I watch “Mad Men,” I can forgive Don Draper for all the lousy things he’s done to his friends and coworkers, but I’ll never forgive him for the time he threw the research report in the waste basket.
- 10. Right now, I’m trying to come up with a final question for you to respond to in the comments section. But since I can’t think of anything, I’m just going to ask you to rate this post from one to five stars on the scale below.