I Guess You'd Call 'Em "Shadow Dichotomies"?...
May 12, 2014 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I'd like examples of traits/personality types/habits/behaviors wherein most people fall into two or three "camps", none of whom are generally aware of the existence of the other(s). "Ask Vs. Guess Culture" and "Sit Vs. Stand to Wipe?" are two examples (a LOT of people are absolutely gobsmacked when they learn that Asking and/or Standing is not only an option, but a POPULAR option). I'm NOT interested in predefined typologies (e.g. the MBTI or Buzzfeedy "What Garden Implement Are You?" kinda stuff)... just ones that, 1. Arise kinda organically, 2. Involve Group A and Group B people frequently being unaware of one another's existence.
posted by julthumbscrew to Grab Bag (61 answers total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
This might not be exactly what you are looking for, but there is a collection of what you might call "secret collectives" in the MetaFilter Wiki.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:06 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Introverts vs. extroverts seems to me to be the granddaddy of them all. I think that introverts are typically aware that extroverts exist, although we're often sort of baffled by them, but a lot of extroverts seem not to realize that introversion is even possible.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

For me I have noticed the "Ask about people" camp and the "Tell about yourself" camp in terms of conversation and generating empathy/intimacy. In the former, the polite thing to do is to inquire about others' pasts, feelings, thoughts, etc. and take turns. Then there are the folks who tell all about themselves as an invitation to share related intimacies. The former usually find the latter overbearing while in the reverse, it seems like people want you to pry everything out of them.

Wish I had catchier titles.
posted by dame at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

I had never heard of the idea of "satisficer vs. maximizer" until reading about it on Metafilter. This comment from MeFi member alidarbac describes working with Barry Schwarz, the psychologist who was researching these sorts of decision-makers:
I was a research assistant for Barry Schwartz during the summer of 2001. Most of the research I was doing was about the properties of regret, how they might affect decision-making.

You know... I never understood people that could not make decisions. If I like something and it is within my price range, I will buy it.

For instance, one of the themes that Schwartz worked on is that there are two types of decision-makers: 'maximizers' and 'satisficers.' A maximizer is a person who constantly tries to maximize their utility when they make a decision, while a 'satisficer' is a person that sets a utility threshold and goes for the first option that satisfies this threshold.

To make it a little more concrete, when shopping for a digital camera, a maximizer will constantly go to every possible store, trying to find some combination of the lowest price and the best features while a satisficer will decide 'Oh, $300 and 3 megapixels is good enough for me' and snags the first camera that meets that criteria.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:09 PM on May 12, 2014 [18 favorites]

I wish I had a better name for this, but it's the "yelling means I'm about to get over it" vs. the "yelling means I'm really, really not getting over it any time soon":

If you're a let-it-all-hang-out type, when you get angry at someone, you express it as soon as the mood hits. And usually, the argument clears the air. As soon as it's over, it's over - you feel better and you're ready to mend fences.

If you're a keep-it-in type, you don't say a word until you're really seething. By the time you vocalize it, the problem's been building for a while, and it's going to take some serious work and change before you're back on good footing.

Whichever you are, you were probably raised in a family of similar types and don't even realize the other type exists. This can lead to a lot of misunderstandings in relationships ---- after an argument, one person thinks there's a lot of work ahead, while the other is already moving past it. It really helps to know which type you are, and which your partner is.
posted by Ausamor at 2:11 PM on May 12, 2014 [47 favorites]

I once had a very awkward and heated argument with my mom (who is a geriatric nurse and has presumably helped many old men pee) about men's pee-over-the-waistband versus pee-through-the-underwear-hole techniques when I tried to buy buttonable boxers at Target. AskMe dichotomy proof here.
posted by Skwirl at 2:15 PM on May 12, 2014

One of the classic ones is the toilet paper over vs toilet paper under dichotomy, with most people being unaware that people do it the opposite way.
posted by TheRaven at 2:20 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Crouton petters vs., um, not crouton petters. (Crouton not-petters?)
posted by gauche at 2:25 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

People who keep pancake syrup in the refrigerator vs. in a cabinet.
posted by Andrhia at 2:26 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Keeping eggs in the fridge (US*) vs keeping eggs out of the fridge (UK*).
*in general
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:27 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

People who use inverted axis controls for FPSs vs Non-Inverted
posted by hellojed at 2:29 PM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

The people who think washing with a washcloth spreads germs vs. the people who think washing without a washcloth doesn't get you clean. I've seen some incredibly heated arguments about this, but I can't link to them for fear of inadvertently becoming a double agent.
posted by janey47 at 2:30 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bike mechanics who wrap bars to tighten around the outside vs inside.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:31 PM on May 12, 2014

Cilantro lovers and cilantro haters.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:31 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Another one from AskMe: tampon flushers vs. non-flushers. That thread was eye-opening for me; I'd always assumed everyone flushed.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:34 PM on May 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

the people who think that beets taste like candy vs the people who think that beets taste like dirt. I think this may be a genetic thing like whether you can roll your tongue or not, or do the vulcan hand sign. This may also be true about the people who think that cucumbers taste fresh vs the people who think that cucumbers taste like soap.
posted by janey47 at 2:34 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I can't find it (maybe someone else can?) but I remember a really incisive post/comment on metafilter that talked about how the "conservative" world view it is perfectly normal to get married young and kind of "grow up" together as a couple. In the "liberal" world view you should grow up as a person and look for another grown-up to marry after 25. It was used to explain the acceptance of teen shotgun weddings (like Bristol Palin) in conservative circles - flying in the face of the abstinence education.
posted by saucysault at 2:36 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

One that has been a big eye opener for me (because my wife and I come from two different cultures on this) is how tension is resolved at the end of the day. I come from a "talk it through and apologize" background while my wife comes frome a "retreat until it blows over" background. For the longest time I couldn't figure out whey talking it through wasn't the best way to resolve tension right now, and she for a long time felt like I was being a bit of a bully for pressing the issue. Additionally, the "let it blow over" paradigm often lets thing go unsaid and the relationship is still considered to be okay. The "talk it out" paradigm will often wonder why people don't apologize. I think the fundamental difference is in regard to what it means to be in right standing in a relationship, and these kinds of things are often assumed and not often discussed once the familial patterns have been set.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:40 PM on May 12, 2014 [11 favorites]

Also, whether or not people think asparagus makes your pee smell funny.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:41 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Piercing a girl's ears as a baby vs. later in life. It seems people tend to have strong opinions on this issue either way. I'm not sure how unaware each camp is of the other's existence, however.
posted by redfishbluefish at 2:48 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Those who think the world is theirs for the taking, against those who need to be persuaded to occupy the space they're given. People who look forward vs. people who look back. Optimists vs. pessimists. Cups and glasses turned over or placed upright in the cupboard.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:49 PM on May 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

There's the divide between wearing your shoes indoors vs. taking them off, which is mostly culturally and/or regionally driven.

I've also noticed that there are two different ways people respond to venting in conversation: some people respond to the emotion and express sympathy, while others respond to the content of the complaint and try to help solve it. This can be frustrating when the venter expects one style of response and gets the other.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:55 PM on May 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

People that delete almost all emails vs. people that keep almost all emails
posted by stinkfoot at 3:05 PM on May 12, 2014 [10 favorites]

People that prefer to use a service like spotify vs. people that perfer archival ownership
posted by stinkfoot at 3:06 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

People who think it's normal for family to stay in a hotel when they come to visit (especially parents visiting a young couple who have a small apartment) vs the "I would never make my mother stay in a hotel" types. Guess which one I am.
posted by radioamy at 3:11 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of syrup, I have a friend who keeps butter on the counter in a "butter bell" which seems bizarre to me.
posted by radioamy at 3:12 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love these. A few I can think of

- people who use sheets/blankets under a duvet+cover and people who sleep under only the duvet+cover (in cold places)
- screamers vs. cryers (Oversimplified, but people who turn anger/frustration inward and people who turn it outward, this may be too obvious)
- butter in the fridge vs. cabinet
- people who rinse dishes after washing (not sure I can explain but we had a conversation about people who just let soapy water sort of ... dry on dishes?)
- people who get into casual clothes when they are home from work and people who go straight to no-pants and/or pajama-like things

I call radioamy's thing the "puppy pile" thing. I had one parent from each, so I became aware of it early.
posted by jessamyn at 3:13 PM on May 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

People who think objects are objects vs. people who think objects have feelings (See: Why do i think Things have feelings?; the infamous Shelby; and the fact that I bought this lumpy monkey at a rummage sale because I thought he looked lonesome and that no one else would save him).
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:29 PM on May 12, 2014 [9 favorites]

This is going to require a story, sorry about that.

My husband and I both moved to Chicago (separately) after living in our respective hometowns until our 20s. A few years ago, after years of living in apartments, we bought a house. It was the first time I could have trick-or-treaters for Halloween since moving to Chicago, and I was super excited. I got the bowl of candy ready and turned on the porch light. A little while later, the doorbell rang and I hurried to answer it.

A group of four or five little kids were standing there with their bags and buckets outstretched, saying "Trick or treat!"

I waited a few beats. Nothing happened. Then I said, "Are you going to tell me a joke?"

A little girl in front said, "Um, no?"

I didn't know what to do. I gave them their candy and went inside and started ranting to my husband about Kids These Days and can you believe their sense of entitlement that they just came to our door to take our candy without even telling a joke?

My husband looked at me funny and said, "Why would they have to tell a joke?"

I started to put the pieces together. I Googled something like "St. Louis Halloween joke" and discovered that, sure enough, I grew up in one of the few areas where trick-or-treaters were expected to tell a joke on Halloween. This was my entire childhood, and I didn't know anything different.

The next day I was on Facebook, and my cousin's wife, who had just spent her first Halloween in St. Louis with their little boy, was outraged that all night people had pestered him to tell a joke if he wanted candy.
posted by payoto at 3:31 PM on May 12, 2014 [30 favorites]

Just utter the words "Ketchup on hot dogs" and watch any room divide into two factions: One group who gets angry and acts like it's some kind of mortal sin, and the other group who says "Whatever, man. It's tasty." See also: Miracle Whip.
posted by usonian at 3:37 PM on May 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

I can't find it (maybe someone else can?) but I remember a really incisive post/comment on metafilter that talked about how the "conservative" world view it is perfectly normal to get married young and kind of "grow up" together as a couple. In the "liberal" world view you should grow up as a person and look for another grown-up to marry after 25.

Red Families vs. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture. The book's main argument is that "in red America, families form adults; in blue America, adults form families."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:45 PM on May 12, 2014 [18 favorites]

People who think hiring a housekeeper/cleaning person is a good use of money vs people who think it's a waste.

People who are comfortable hiring babysitters vs people who will only let friends/family watch their kids.
posted by radioamy at 4:13 PM on May 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

(I realize this probably too serious, given the way the responses are going.)

I'm curious about what other people think, and how they reason, think about and conceptualize things. A lot of people I know are horrified that I read books by people I disagree with (and sometimes value them) and sometimes talk to people I disagree with in way that mostly consists of asking lots of questions rather than arguing.

Sometimes I can extract something valuable from their reasoning even if I mostly disagree with it. A lot of times, it's just curiosity.

I think a lot of people don't get that. They will never have any curiosity about what other people think. They will never understand why anyone else would, or even that it's possible for someone to care how someone else thinks.
posted by nangar at 4:20 PM on May 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

People who become part of a fandom or define themselves by their interests (whether it's TV, movies, sports, music, whatever) versus people who are more mildly interested.

People who try to figure things out themselves by default versus people who immediately try to ask someone who would know. (Online, this usually results in LMGTFY links)
posted by eponym at 5:21 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, whether or not people think asparagus makes your pee smell funny.

People who know that asparagus does make some people's pee smell versus those who do not.
posted by mr. digits at 5:33 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Along with drinking glasses stored rim up/rim down in the cupboard, I'd add silverware pointed handle up vs handle down in the dishwasher. This is always annoying me in the office kitchen.

Also, when I moved to a different state I immediately noticed a difference in otherwise similar residential areas in people whose dogs mostly live outside (fences, dog houses) and inside (regular leashed walks around the neighborhood).
posted by Atalanta at 5:39 PM on May 12, 2014

People who have a visualization of their mental calendar vs. those who don't. (Apropos of the "each is unaware the other exists," I am one of those who does not visualize anything, and it never even occurred to me that anyone else would until I saw that AskMe.) And among those who do have a visual representation, that seems to vary quite a bit from person to person.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:56 PM on May 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

People who wear their socks indoors versus those who remove them when alone/appropriate in their homes.
posted by mr. digits at 6:08 PM on May 12, 2014

- People who read the manual before operating the device and people who don't (and pester the person who read when they run into trouble)
- People who close (kitchen) cabinet doors and people who don't
- People who keep ketchup in the refrigerator and people who keep ketchup in a cabinet
- People who wash their hands with soap and water and people who just use water
- When it comes to storytelling, story people vs bottom line people (example stolen from reddit)
Bottom line people tell stories like this:
"Oh, man. You won't believe what I just saw. I'm at that Quicki-Mart on Main St. and some old lady drove her car right through the front of the building. Luckily, no one was hurt. Just some damage to the Slushy machine and front window."

Story people tell stories like this:
"So, I had just got my oil changed and realized that my gum was missing. I bet those guys at the shop probably threw it away, but there were still two piece left. So I decided to stop and get some gas and more gum at the quicki-mart. You know the one, over on main street. It's always so dirty there, but gas is like 4 cents a gallon cheaper than anywhere else. Well, I pump my gas and go inside to get some gum. As I'm waiting in line, I hear the loudest sound ever. I thought it was a shotgun. Wait, no. Remember like 5 summers ago, when your cousin's friend's uncle set off those HUGE fireworks on the the 4th; you know, when the cops showed up. It sounded like that, but different. Apparently, some old lady was trying to park her car and accidentally floored it right through the window. There was glass and bricks everywhere. It's gonna take a week to fix that place. Luckily no one was hurt, I don't know if I'm every going to shop there again. On top of that, I didn't even get my gum. I had to stop at another gas station on the way......"
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:45 PM on May 12, 2014 [12 favorites]

Apparently some guys pee in the sink in airplane lavatories.

I was part of a conversation where the guys were evenly split on this (and baffled that the other guys did/didn't), and all the women were horrified.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 7:47 PM on May 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Deborah Tannen writes about this in the context of communication styles and the problems that come up between people who misunderstand each other's communication styles, expectations, and needs.

For example, someone who just wants sympathy can get very angry when their interlocutor offers suggestions for fixing the situation. Both parties end up frustrated and confused because they don't understand what the other is trying to accomplish with the conversation.

Another example is people who are raised with an interrupting / overlapping conversational style versus those raised with a polite wait-your-turn style. Neither one realizes its a style. They just think the other person is being rude or uptight.
posted by alms at 8:16 PM on May 12, 2014 [9 favorites]

This is derived from MBTI so it might not be what you're looking for, but it's similar to Ask vs. Guess, so maybe it is: directing vs. informing communication. So the difference between:

Directing: "Ask Jerry for specific instructions on balancing the budget." "Marion, would you find a restaurant to host fifty people at a banquet in September?"

Informing: "Jerry has some information that might help you balance the budget." "Marion, do we have information on any restaurants that could host a banquet in September for fifty people?"

(Examples taken from here.)

In my experience generally people come down pretty strongly on one side or the other, both in which they use or which they find irritating (is the one too blunt and rude and bossy? Or is the other passive-aggressive and evasive and unlikely to get anything done?)
posted by dekathelon at 9:10 PM on May 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Another dishwashing one:

People who put soap on the sponge (or use a soap-dispensing brush) vs. people who fill up a sink with water and add soap and wash dishes in the water.

Analogously, people for whom a bath is "getting clean", vs those who have to shower after a bath (the bath was just a presoak) in order to consider themselves washed.

re: conversational style

I swear, if a speech therapist could fix my conversational style, I would pay handsomely and write the world's best yelp reviews, etc. etc. I understand that I may have been raised among overlappers, so naturally, if I talk to wait-your-turners, I keep interrupting and feel terrible. However, if I talk to other overlappers, then it turns out that neither of us interrupts the other. It's amazing and inexplicable.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:01 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

When printing a capital letter J, people who draw the line across the top v. the people who don't. I had a lovely hilarious argument with my nephew Justin over this. (He doesn't cross the top. He is a doofus.)
posted by JanetLand at 5:53 AM on May 13, 2014

There are a lot of food-related "refrigerate vs don't refrigerate" ones: butter, bread, tomatoes, eggs (although in the UK vs US debate, this has to do with a fundamental difference in the way eggs are processed before they get to the grocery store).

Rinsing dishes before they go in dishwasher vs not
Silverware handle up vs handle down
(Clearly handle up is the right answer, because otherwise, when you unload the dishwasher, you risk getting stabbed by sharp utensils and it seems unhygienic to be handling the utensils from the eating end.)

Crunchy vs chewy chocolate chip cookies
Well done vs rare bacon

Using the oxford comma vs not
Two space vs one space (previously mentioned by escabeche)

Pet related:
Indoor vs outdoor cats
(I've learned from ask mefi that apparently in the UK it's considered cruel not to allow cats outside, whereas in the US, most rescue groups won't let you adopt if your cats aren't indoor-only.)

I also remember an ask mefi question about whether a missed call with no voicemail obligated the receiver to return the call, and I believe there was a pretty distinct divide between people who thought you absolutely were supposed to call back and those who thought you shouldn't/don't need to.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:58 AM on May 13, 2014

This is the voicemail ask mefi that I was talking about.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:03 AM on May 13, 2014

Poutine vs Poutine with toppings (sauerkraut, meats, veggies, etc).

People who know of poutine and people who do not know of poutine.

People who know where to buy real, squeaky cheese curds and those people who cry themselves to sleep because the Wegmans only has non-squeaky cheese curds...
posted by Slackermagee at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2014

Mod note: hey folks, we need to keep this thread sort of narrow-tailored to answers to the question and not debating folks' choices that are being outlined here. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:37 AM on May 13, 2014

There seems to be a huge divide between Like to Know vs. Like to Believe that shows up a lot in online discussions. The Knowers want to see some kind of evidence to accept something as true, or if not hard evidence then objective indication. The Believers think it's fine to accept something as true because you have a right to your opinion and you can believe what you like.

As someone who frequently has trouble reading other people's intentions, I have found this discussion incredibly helpful.
posted by Flexagon at 12:32 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

the people who think that beets taste like candy vs the people who think that beets taste like dirt.

Yes! This has to do with different sensitivities to geosmin, which beets and dirt have a lot of.

In scientific taxonomy, there is a divide between lumpers and splitters (lumpers want to group similar things, splitters want to distinguish as many different things as possible).

Isaiah Berlin has a famous essay that introduced the idea of the intellectual styles of foxes and hedgehogs (the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing).

A few other differing mindsets that I've noticed, not sure if these fit your bill -

Coordinating tasks within a group - some people expect each person to be assigned a task and then be allowed/expected to complete their whole assigned task autonomously, vs. each person pitching in and kibitzing on every task.

Decisionmaking - some people expect that a decision will be made once and then is final (only to be changed down the road if truly major new information came to light), vs. people who take decisions to be still up for modification all the way through a process.

Group travel - I think of this as how much of a "sheepdog" you are. Some people I've traveled with feel like it's very normal for the group to split up and do their own thing, and that one person/subgroup doesn't need to wait for another (for example if their plans change, they feel like it's not much of an imposition on the other people/subgroups, since each person/subgroup is an autonomous unit anyway and they don't expect others to be waiting around for them)... vs. others who feel like the whole group is the default unit, and if the group is going to split up temporarily, that requires a lot of negotiation and planning and backup meeting places, and that each subgroup must stick to the agreed plan, since last-minute changes affect everybody else (for example, they expect that the rest of the group will wait in a holding pattern if one person is late, so one person's plan changes are an imposition on everybody).
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh, another one - in terms of how to approach a task, there are sprinters and marathoners (similar to tortoise vs hare). Sprinters will do best if they can make a single all-out push (pulling all-nighters etc) to complete a task; marathoners do best if they can put in a sustained effort where each day's effort is much lower (so, devoting two hours a day to a task for months).
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:00 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Shower pissers vs non shower pissers. Relevant AskMe
posted by benzenedream at 10:03 PM on May 14, 2014

A couple more occurred to me:

People who think buying a previously lived-in house is weird/creepy vs. those who can't imagine buying a brand new house with no history or characte.r

People who spay/neuter their pets vs those who don't.
posted by usonian at 12:17 PM on May 15, 2014

I have a theory about how people form and change opinions that several of my friends know as my "fishbowls on stools theory", or just "the fishbowl theory". It doesn't work for everybody, but it has its usefulness.

The setup:
Imagine a warehouse with several thousand common wooden stools. On the ground around the stools are an even larger number of fishbowls (complete with water, fish, pebbles, and little pirate ships). Each stool represents a thing you could have a belief or opinion about. Each fishbowl represents a particular belief of opinion. So, "Is there a god?" is a stool, while "Yes, there is a god," and "No, there is no god," are fishbowls. When you hold a particular belief, you put the appropriate fishbowl on the appropriate stool. "Is there a god? Yes, there is a god," or "Is there a god? No, there is no god." As soon as you learn that you could have a new belief, a new stool you add a new stool to the warehouse. As soon as you learn of new specific belief, you add a new fishbowl. Importantly, there are never any "I don't know," or "I'm unsure," fishbowls. If you're undecided, don't put a fishbowl on the stool.

Two groups:
Some folks are completely fine with leaving some questions unanswered. Thus, they're fine with some stools existing without fishbowls on them. "Is there a god? I don't really care," or "Is there a god? I can't draw conclusions from the available data," or "Is there a god? I haven't had time to look into it." These people tend to hold the few opinions that they do have very firmly. Once they place a fishbowl on a stool, it tends to stay there. This is not to say that their opinions are better researched, more thoughtfully considered, or any more valid than other people's opinions. They're just firmly held. "Are the Beatles the best band ever? Yes. Absolutely. Full stop." After all, picking up a heavy fishbowl off the ground, balancing it on a stool without sloshing water everywhere, and keeping the pirate ship upright is difficult. We'll describe these people as "bowls down" people. They tend to keep their fishbowls down on the ground.

People in the other group always have an opinion, no matter how much/little they know about the subject, or how much/little they've considered the available information or consequences of their opinions. These people always have a fishbowl on every stool. Always. Extremely firm beliefs about the moral fabric of society get a fishbowl on a stool. The validity of a new concept they just read about on the internet gets a fishbowl on a stool. We'll describe these people as "bowls up" people. They tend to have more bowls up on stools at any one time than bowls down people do. To their accommodate their snap judgments, bowls up people tend to be more willing to move their fishbowls around over time. "Are the Beatles the best band ever? No, I 've only heard Glass Onion, and it's stupid," could quickly become "Yes! Why did my mother not play Sgt. Pepper for me in the womb?!"

This framework can help people understand why some other folks seem crazy or stupid from their point of view. For instance: Alice is a young, burgeoning film critic, and a bowls up person. Bob has seen and carefully reviewed every movie in existence, and is a bowls down person. Bob pulls Alice aside at party and asks for her thoughts on new movies. To Bob, Alice's answers sound uninformed, off the cuff, and, frankly, stupid. Has she even seen these films? It might help Bob to know that Alice is not seeking to ruin film for everybody who reads her reviews; she's just a bowls up person. Yes, the answers were off the cuff, and yes, she was uninformed. But Bob asked her opinions, and she had opinions, so she said them. As for Alice, she could benefit from knowing that Bob, as a bowls down person, might interpret her statements differently than she intends. Perhaps she could add some couching phrases like, "Though I only saw it once several years ago, I think The Godfather is a stain on Coppola's name"

The fishbowl theory is also useful for understanding why some people think changing your mind is a good thing, while others think it's a bad thing. When a politician switches her stance on an issue she's been championing, she may get lambasted by bowls downers. When a religious leader refuses to change a long-held tradition even after he admits that it leads to bad things, he may get roasted by bowls uppers. There are certainly other reasons for lambasting and roasting besides my hackneyed theory, but this is a good working model for trying to see it from a different point of view.
posted by cmchap at 1:22 PM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

People who see dogs as equal members of their family and think disciplining them is cruel vs. people who see themselves as owning a dog and think it's cruel not to discipline them.

Related: people who let their cats/dogs sleep in their bed vs. people who would never. People who feed their cats/dogs table scraps at the table vs. people who would never (or rarely). People who talk to their cats/dogs vs... wait, are there people who don't?
posted by desjardins at 1:48 PM on May 16, 2014

People who think (almost all) babies are cute vs. people who think (almost all) babies are ugly
posted by desjardins at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2014

Oh my gawdddd, people who know what cotillion is and people who don't. I am a legit southerner friends with a bunch of transplanted Yankees, and I said something jokey about cotillion and they were like, "cot- what?" I ended up describing it as like halfway between bar mitzvah and prom, and they eventually kind of got it, but I think they thought I was making it up at first.
posted by quincunx at 5:59 PM on May 16, 2014

People that think that in a relationship the other person is the priority and give 100% of themselves to the other person vs people that retain themselves as priority but also expect the other person to prioritize themselves so a balance is reached. It is possible for two people with the same values to have a strong, healthy relationship; I have never seen a healthy relationship with a mix of values though - mostly because the "unselfish" (for lack of a better word) person CANNOT understand why the other person doesn't "value" them enough, and the "selfish" (again, poor choice of word) person doesn't get why the other person keeps making self-defeating choices and feels no obligation to adjust their value system.
posted by saucysault at 6:45 AM on May 18, 2014

optimizers and satisficers. When making a purchase, for example, a satisficer makes a list of criteria they want met and once they find a thing that fits it, they are done. Optimizers want the best of a given category (best price, best quality, best color) and so have a more difficult time getting to a decision stage until they've considered all the options. Satisficers don't care if the price for a thing drops after they've bought it, they determined a price that would be okay to them and if they got it, they are happy but they can take forever getting a list of criteria, or make it so rigid that they can never get a thing. Optimizers will agonize if a price drops or a new widget comes out with better features but if they have a forced choice will be able to get something.

I also think about the people who have a "leave no trace" approach to the world and people who think that things are there to be used, used up, whatever.

I knew a guy who wouldn't advance the film on his (film) camera until he was ready to use it but whenever I'd pick it up it would make me nuts that it wasn't ready to go. So like: do the prep work in advance or do the prep work when you are ready to do the thing?
posted by jessamyn at 6:59 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I knew a guy who wouldn't advance the film on his (film) camera until he was ready to use it but whenever I'd pick it up it would make me nuts that it wasn't ready to go. So like: do the prep work in advance or do the prep work when you are ready to do the thing?
There's also the flip side of that, which is clean as you go or binge-clean at the end when you're done with a task.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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