It was quite a year, wasn’t it? From supply chain issues to quiet quitting, from Will Smith to Elon Musk, it seems as though 2022 was characterized by big events, big personalities, and big derailers.
Recently on The Science of Personality, cohosts Ryne Sherman, PhD, chief science officer, and Blake Loepp, PR manager, continued their annual tradition of breaking down the top derailers of the year.
As we did for 2020 in episode 16 and 2021 in episode 41, we highlight major events or significant people from this year that represent each of the 11 derailers from the Hogan Development Survey (HDS). The HDS measures ways that people can derail by overusing their personality strengths when under stress.
Let’s get right into the 2022 derailers of the year.
Excitable: Will Smith
Remember when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards? As such an unexpected and dramatic incident, this moment represents the Excitable scale. Excitability is about a volatile outburst while under stress or pressure or when not self-monitoring. That’s exactly happened to Will Smith. In a moment of anger, he allowed an emotional outburst to occur on full public display.
Skeptical: Magnus Carlsen
When one of the greatest players of all time walks away from a game, that creates conspiracy theories galore. The current world chess champion Magnus Carlsen has refused to play grandmaster Hans Niemann, alleging that Niemann cheats. This attitude represents the Skeptical scale, which can be characterized as distrustful, cynical, and critical. It shows skepticism to say, “Nope, I think you’re cheating, so I’m not going to play you.”
Cautious: China’s Zero-COVID Policy
China set a goal to reach zero cases of COVID—quite a challenge for a nation with such a huge population. The Cautious scale can describe fear of mistakes and a reluctance to take risks. Excessive caution in response to perceived threats can cost opportunities. The policy likely caused social consequences in China, as well as billions in GDP growth.
Reserved: Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitters may only do the minimum amount of work and actively avoid interaction and engagement. The Reserved scale regards keeping distance when under stress. By a popular definition of quiet quitting, these workers take a reserved approach to their jobs, doing just enough not to get fired and distancing themselves from the rest of the group.
Leisurely: Supply Chain Challenges and Inflation
The Leisurely scale refers to passive-aggressive behavior: publicly avoiding trouble but privately causing trouble. The supply chain may not always be in public view, but it’s always in the background causing problems. Supply chain challenges contributed to this year’s surge in inflation, a perfect depiction of stubborn, contrary, leisurely behavior.
Bold: Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin was our selection to represent the Bold scale because of his overconfidence and arrogance. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine likely has cost more than 100,000 lives. His assertions about the superiority of the Russian military have been belied by the success of the Ukrainian opposition. That overestimation about military competence and sense of entitlement perfectly capture the most extreme characteristics of boldness.
Mischievous: Sam Bankman-Fried
Billionaire entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, is currently facing charges of fraud surrounding his cryptocurrency business. The Mischievous scale concerns manipulating, bending, or breaking the rules—or believing that the rules don’t apply to you. It also has to do with charm and charisma. Bankman-Fried had to be charming and persuasive to get billions of dollars of investments, and he would have had to play fast and loose with the law to treat money in the way he has been charged. Mischief, indeed.
Colorful: Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp Trial
The spectacle of the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp trial represents the Colorful scale in that it relates to attention-seeking characteristics. The many emotions on display in the public divorce at times seemed self-promoting and intentionally dramatic. Whether followers were pro-Amber or pro-Johnny, the event garnered a lot of attention, emotion, and opinion.
The Imaginative scale has to do with being overly creative in ways that are impractical or nonsensical. Despite the decline in viewership of 24-hour news networks, CNN invested hundreds of millions in the CNN+ subscription-only platform for exclusive news content. It took imagination to think subscribers would pay for content instead of consuming it for free on social media and other online news platforms. CNN+ dissolved after just one month.
Diligent: Elon Musk
The Diligent scale relates to micromanaging and obsessing about details. Elon Musk brought that management style from Tesla to Twitter, where it seemed to be less effective in a different corporate culture. His background in technology and past business success shows that his perfectionistic tendencies have worked well for him in the past. Musk’s diligence at Twitter, however, appears to be a classic expression of an overused strength.
Dutiful: The Royal Family
The British royal family represents the Dutiful scale by following the rules and deferring to authority. They demonstrate commitment to tradition that may not align with modern trends, and in doing so, they risk seeming rigid or stagnant. Even while experiencing grief or other strong emotions, the members of the royal family adhere to a prescribed set of rules and uphold the honor of their lineage. Their refusal to deviate from the way things have always been done shows how an excessive sense of duty can lead to derailment.
Listen to this conversation in full on episode 66 of The Science of Personality. Never miss an episode by following us anywhere you get podcasts. Thanks to our listeners for an amazing 2022. Cheers, everybody!