GIS and Personality

In his early overview of decision support systems (DSS), M. C. Er (1988) discusses the importance of allowing for variation in personal choice when choosing a support system. What was most interesting to me was the incorporation of cognitive style and Myers-Briggs personality types as determinants of people’s “preferred way of getting data and preferred way of processing data” (p. 359), and it led me to thinking about whether there is room for different personalities and cognitive styles in using a GIS for decision support (as a tool, that is). Stemming from the (pretty crude) dual personality descriptors on page 359 of Er’s article, I think GIS caters a bit to all of these types. On the other hand, I don’t think it is easy to use a GIS in any particular way that you want to—it’s known for a steep learning curve and definitely has its counter-intuitive moments—and people have to learn to think like the computer; learn to think like ArcMap. Maybe GIS is catered towards a certain cognitive style, which makes sense when it’s described as something you either love or hate.

I think this could be tested with a potential research project: get a group of people, give them a Myers-Briggs test, and give them a GIS task. See how they do it differently and compare that with their MBTI (while controlling for experience, etc).

Er, M. C. (1988). Decision Support Systems: A Summary, Problems, and Future Trends, Decision Support Systems 4. 355-363.



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