“Walking around” on this site you will very soon notice and become aware of what kind of firm Gordon Consulting is.
We are behavior scientists and psychologists, specialized in personality assessment of people applying for advanced positions or training possibilities.

Welcome to get in touch – preferably by e-mail (we are not always at the phone)!
And very welcome to “walk around” on this site!

Real truth or just imaginations?

One of Belgian artist René Magritte’s most celebrated works is his painting that depicts a pipe. Magritte’s short and sweet accompanying text reads: Ceci n’est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe). What the artist meant to convey with this is that a picture of a pipe is obviously not a pipe. That he even bothers to mention this has, of course, to do with the fact that we humans often, almost constantly, mix up experiences based on fiction with our perceptions of a more real reality. What is it that we actually hear, see, smell and sense? How do we perceive the staggering number of signals streaming to us on a 24/7 basis? This is not only a question for philosophy and psychology, but is open to all scientifically active and interested parties. And so it was for René Magritte, who partook in lively discussions on the subject with no less a personage than French philosopher Michel Foucault. Are the languages we speak and the texts we read the intermediary links between people on the one hand and an objective reality on the other? In which case, would it be right in assuming that linguistic processes, in the broad sense, are behind the mediation of reality? Or do we just imagine that reality is what we linguistically describe and talk about? Is it possible at all to speak of a person’s excellent ability to perceive reality as it really is? Here we have a couple of issues that neatly bring together philosophy with modern sciences.

We people do not only react to our experiences with ingrained attitudes and behavioural patterns. We are equally as creative. Or are we actually more creative than reactive to our surroundings? Our brain is obsessed with creating, not only during sleep when it activates peculiar dream sequences, a sort of intensive, inner film studio, but also during the day as we trudge our way through the endless streams of information in an attempt to find out a bit more about ourselves and the world we live in. These attempts are nearly always just attempts. We try things out, we formulate and reword, determine then revise, and everything goes at a blistering pace with most of it taking place on the unconscious level. And we are not even aware of what we are doing, well, not entirely in any case.

This constant process of creating very often emanates from our frustrations, our feelings of dissatisfaction. That which we hear, see, taste and smell leads only to intermittent euphoric raptures. Most of it lodges as experiences that could best be described as second-rate sensations. And that is when the brain triggers its creative processes. Consequently, we form notions and ideas, mostly based on primitive images.

Previously, when it was more acceptable to mention people from the Communist era, there were names like Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and Karl Marx (1818–1883), followed by a long list of social philosophers, sociologists and natural scientists, all of whom attempted to explain the process of how we perceive and describe what we regard as reality. One of the most renowned German sociologists, Georg Simmel (1858–1918), studied how we interact with each other at meetings. He claimed that all interaction takes place in a process in which the participants constantly form notions about each other and act according to these notions. These notions are, of course, not randomly constructed, but constructed in accordance with the purpose of the interaction. We thus construct, usually at lightning speed and unconsciously, a sort of theatrical stage on which we take on roles and act out a play with each other that would put professional drama productions to shame. Also politics takes on the shape of a dramatized and often well-directed play, offering lively and attractive notions that entice views, but which could entail a risky voyage with many sharp rocks hidden under the surface.

But how about the present widely accepted concept “evidence”? Is “evidence based” observations or measurements guarantees for what is The Real Thing and what is not? Well, within a quite small sector of natural science, particularly biology, chemistry and physics the proofs about what is and what is not are well founded, but as soon as we turn the way into even more complex areas, for example how to build or develop organizations or even individual attitudes, questions could and should be raised. And this goes also for all kinds of practice within the field of applied psychology.

So stay curious and stay critical in your mind!

Each one of us has our breaking point

The following text is an excerpt from an interview with Hans Gordon about airline pilot aptitude assessments and tests .

“There are no mandatory requirements for psychological aptitude tests when recruiting pilots in large parts of the world that is left to the airlines themselves. This means that some airlines conduct psychological tests in an attempt to assess whether a person is functioning reasonably well, socially and professionally. Then there are airlines that can’t afford it. They cut corners and cross their fingers that anyone trained at an aviation school has the right qualities. The aviation school, most often private, has approved the student. Some budget airlines conduct some form of aptitude test, usually very simplified, that are not always compiled or evaluated by psychologists.

“I usually differentiate between what is known as a psychologist’s assessment and a test. When I receive anybody who is taking a test I tell them they’re not only there to be tested but to be assessed, and the assessment begins the minute they walk through the door. The assessment includes everything about them that I perceive. Their life experiences, what they’ve gone through, what they’ve learned from their experiences, how they’ve grown as a person, how they’ve reached various stages of maturity, etc. These are vital aspects.

“Testing usually looks at the purely cognitive skills, which are also significant because we people differ very much in that respect. This could involve logical analyses, spatial ability, working memory and multitasking capacity. We also look at their social life, the relationships they’ve had, how close and how long they’ve lasted, their family life and where their experiences have come in handy. In education they use the term test wiseness, which means I can do a test several times, prepare myself and learn what’s expected of me.

“With regard to the actual testing tools, even they differ from one psychologist to the next and between different psychology institutes. Some develop their own while others buy them. The means you could get vastly different results from different psychologists. If you want to achieve even better results by taking a test twice then you should either go to the same psychologist or two with similar tests. But if you come to me, I not only assess how you manage the tests, I also carry out a more extensive personality assessment.

“Personality is a complex thing. We people are creatures bursting at the seams with impulses and urges. We train during our early life in our trouble-free social environments to keep a balance between different types of internal urges and power games. This doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared, we just have them under reasonable control. That which we call the maturity process is actually gaining reasonable control over our own powers in our social interplay with others. The problem is, we can’t have reasonable control on any given occasion, but when the pressure dramatically increases from the outside world is when we may lose control. Each one of us has our breaking point.

“I look at it this way: a pilot candidate could come and showcase a repertoire of fully approved behavioural patterns and ways to collaborate, and so forth. If they later encounter circumstances that are extremely stressful and demanding and they begin to falter and not be bothered to keep up any longer, then that person is approaching their breaking point.”


Testing, testing, testing…

The Swedish main daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, has recently (January 2017) published a critical review, based upon two examining reporters, on the value of using personality tests during recruitment and selection of candidates to management positions or other positions requiring special skills. What the newspaper has found is that some of the renowned and often used personality tests are more or less of almost no value at all.
And based upon my experience the critical findings are correct. Psychological test instruments are generally quite poor tools for prediction of peoples’ future professional abilities, especially so when it comes to so called personality tests. In order to reach a more valid assessment it is necessary to widen the examination, making a more wide Angel investigation, taking into consideration lots of other information as well. I would not say that all tests are useless, but the results have to become considered as preliminary hints or sketches, creating some specific hypotheses, which have to be dug up into open light and tested by other means than just tests.
Assessing people is thus something that include much more than just testing, testing, testing by tests.