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Reading People’s Minds Through Their Behavior

“And what’s inside [of her head]… Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspool­ing her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy?”  This passage comes from the first page of the novel Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn and is a first person account of Nick Dunne’s thoughts of his wife.

How many times have you wished you could read someone’s mind? Similar to the superpowers of invisibility, flying, or having extra-human strength, the ability to know exactly what someone is thinking or feeling has been a fantasy of humans’ for as long as we can remember.

But science is getting close. According to an NPR interview titled “Scientists Say They Can Read Your Mind, And Prove It With Pictures”,  Jack Gallant, a professor at UC Berkley, “can literally see what’s on your mind.”

Jack Gallant says, “Your eye is sort of like a camera. There’s an image of the world on the back of your eye, and that image is projected on the back of your brain. And we can record blood flow signals and translate those signals back into the picture that you saw.”

The process starts by showing participants movie clips while recording their brain activity through an MRI. This MRI data is then inserted into a computer which reconstructs what the person saw. While the images aren’t super clear, Gallant says, “They have this dreamy quality, as if you’re looking through the world through a thick piece of gauze. You might be able to tell that there was somebody speaking, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was a man or a woman.”

The technology is still in the early stages of development, but the future outlook of this technology seems boundless. According to Gallant, “We’ll be able to decode the things you are looking at, the internal dialogue you’re having with yourself as you talk to yourself throughout the day, your feelings. All of those things will be accessible.”

Pretty surreal.

But, until the day we are all carrying around our personal mind-reader gadgets, there is a way to at least understand someone’s behavior, and thus determine how they prefer to be treated. These behavioral cues are huge indicators to how someone is feeling and what they are thinking, but the same actions could mean something very different for person A as they could for person B. This is why understanding SOCIAL STYLE is crucial to developing effective relationships, particularly at work. Understanding the difference between the four SOCIAL STYLEs, (Analytical, Amiable, Driving, and Expressive) and the behaviors associated with each Style, allows us to treat people in ways that will allow them to work most effectively. An Amiable Style person displays their feelings, has different needs, and is motivated differently than Driving Style person.

Listen to the full NPR interview titled “Scientists Say They Can Read Your Mind, And Prove It With Pictures” here.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn more about the SOCIAL STYLE Model or watch the short video below:

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