UK BOFHs face psychometric dissection

Empathy? Let me tell you about empathy...

The techies among you who are operating in or around Bolton had better watch your backs - the local uni is offering postgraduate PhD studentships in the ominously-titled "Cognitive Style Differences Between IT Support Staff and Computer Users as Causes of Stress in the Workplace".

Read on...

The project will adopt an approach using psychometric questionnaires and diaries to examine the extent to which cognitive style differences between IT technicians and the computer users that they service act as mutual sources of stress. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the constructs of systemising, empathising, computing anxiety, computing autonomy and computing engagement, with outcomes being expected to be of both a theoretical and applied nature.

Oh dear. Anyone who has ever been in a server room can see where the wheels are going to come off this particular project. Imagine the scene: A smoke-filled room at Bolton's Tyrell Corporation. The PhD student is psychometrically probing the company BOFH, who begins to look decidedly uncomfortable when asked to explain what kind of relationship he has with soap.

BOFH: Soap? What's that?
Student: You know what screenwipes are?
BOFH: Of course!
Student: Same thing.
BOFH: Do you make up these questions? Or do they write 'em down for you?
Student: They're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response... Shall we continue? Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about... empathy.
BOFH: Empathy?
Student: Yeah.
BOFH: Let me tell you about empathy...

Well, we all know what happens next, which just about sums up the principal cognitive style difference between sysadmins and trembling computer users. ®


Ta very much to Trevor Law for the tip-off.

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