Is it possible to know how two people will interact with each other based solely on their personality? In the article “Homer and Big 5,” Rastislav Duriš, an HR consultant, and Matus Porubjak, a philosophy professor, analyzed the personality profiles of the two heroes – Achilles and Agamemnon – from the first song of Homer’s Iliad to find out whether the two Greeks were predisposed for mutual conflict.
The authors considered both characters’ potential for behavioral conflict and value conflict. When looking at Achilles and Agamemnon’s Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) and Hogan Development Survey (HDS) profiles, Duriš and Porubjak found that both men were very goal-oriented, competitive and ambitious. They were also self-critical, dissatisfied, sensitive to threats, and communicated in a straightforward manner without the tendency to build or maintain relationships with others.
Duriš and Porubjak predicted the possibility of conflict between the warrior and his king. For example, lower to average Prudence in both heroes indicates that they may attempt to use non-standard means in order to achieve goals or break rules. In some situations, Achilles as well as Agamemnon will be short-tempered and hot-headed, which will add an element of unpredictability as well as strong emotional and black-and-white perception to their interactions (e.g. mutual denigration). Achilles will only minimally respect the authority of Agamemnon and will be quite independent. On the other hand, if confronted, Agamemnon may perceive Achilles’ actions as especially negative, hostile, threatening or deceitful. While under stress, he may even attack Achilles by means of non-critical self-confirmation and misinterpretation or fabulation of events.
Duriš and Porubjak also found that the two also had potential towards mutual antipathy due to differing motivations. By analyzing their Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI) profiles, they found that, while Achilles is interested in the prosperity of a wider community and welfare of others in general, Agamemnon is a relationship pragmatist and materialist who is predominantly interested in his own agenda.
While Agamemnon probably won’t get the world’s best boss award, his management of Achilles fails disastrously due to their conflicting personalities and motivations. And to think, all of this might have been avoided had the two been self-aware of their differences and motivational tendencies beforehand.