Monday, May 21, 2012

The Chess Theory of Understanding People

On occasion, this blog ventures into highly speculative territory. This post dives deep into uncharted waters.
Understanding human beings is like playing chess. Reading humans is as simple as understanding their personality and their goals, and understanding chess players is like understanding their styles of play and skill level.
For humans are predictable creatures of habit, who act in what they believe to be their own self-interest. Push a man in one direction, and he will respond based on what he believes will benefit him. (Of course, what a man sees as his self-interest may actually not be best for him.) After a while, human choices become dictated by previous decisions – the man who goes to college for engineering takes path which after awhile excludes other choices, for example.
Human beings also have very distinct personalities. One particular person might be flamboyant, one might be quiet.
People make seemingly irrational decisions, based on false preconceptions, external factors, or simply honest error.
The comparisons between human beings and chess players are striking.  
Chess players also favor certain openings, certain types of moves, and adopt aggressive or defensive styles of play, depending on their personality. After a while, their moves become dictated by their style of play and the situation at hand.
Chess players are also known to make blunders, based on external factors or their own misreading of situations.
This analogy does not posit that humans lack free will. But habit is very, very strong, and people rarely change their habits without a great deal of effort. After a while, those habits tend to define person.
To cultivate knowledge of another person, one must get to know them. The more skilled the reader of a person, the easier people become to predict. Some have a gift for reading others, as well.
The more one gets to know people, the better one can “read” and understand the personalities of others. Similarly, the more one studies chess, the better one will become as a player.

1 comment:

  1. I'm no chess player, but I definately get the analogy. After many years of learning how to read those in my own family, I can usually predict how they will react to certain situations. Just like in chess, you have to almost weave your way so to speak through your relationships with others, knowing when to say something or to refrain from it, based on their personalities etc.


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