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The High Society

Jocoserious Adoxography

Paul M. Muchinsky*
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

I-O psychologists are highly intelligent. But as they say in marketing, it’s all about selling the brand. The best way to be recognized as highly intelligent is to sound highly intelligent. That means we seamlessly integrate big preposterous words with those understood by common folk. Who wouldn’t want to be the object of hushed reverence when they speak? If only you could find a verbal Zen master. Look no more. The High Society is about to give you a customized vocabulary lesson designed to impress all those who cross your path. Think of it as Hooked on Phonics for the well-educated.

I want you to drop these words in your writing, toss them around in meetings, and take whispered pillow talk with your lover to a new level. There is no need to cite this column as the source of the words. They are not my words. I got them from a book, and now you are getting them from me. Spread the word(s). Thank me later.

I have clustered the words into logical groupings as an example of when they might be uncorked. But feel free to use them whenever and wherever you wish.

Words Helpful in Teaching

  • Trying to pour a bucket of knowledge into a thimble of cognitive capacity reminds us that some students are indocible (unteachable).
  • Tell your students that every night they must elucibrate (study diligently).
  • On the first day of class, inform your students that a passing grade will not be forthcoming just because they are tanquam (people educated enough to go to college).
  • It is often difficult to concentrate on your lecture when your students pandiculate (yawn and stretch).
  • Students who communicate in verbal shorthand (e.g., LOL, OMG) are exhibiting fasgrolia (FASt GROwing Language of Initialism and Acronyms).

Words Helpful in Meta-Analysis

  • Because the findings from meta-analysis are regarded as the truth, meta-analysis is alethiology (the study of truth).
  • The conclusions from meta-analysis are apodictic (clearly and undeniably true).
  • When evaluating studies for possible inclusion in a meta-analysis, it is important to absterge (to wipe clean or purge) inappropriate studies, yet thoroughly seek out adscititious (supplementary, additional) studies.
  • Not being particularly troubled that a corrected validity coefficient exceeds 1.00 is evidence the meta-analyst suffers from oneirataxia (the inability to differentiate between fantasy and reality).
  • I found the four-page digression about the robust semiparametric noncentral F distribution to be amyctic (irritating) and unduly noetic (reasoning only in abstract terms).

Words Useful for Practitioners

  • At the JiffySpiffy Group all our professional knowledge is exoteric (adapted for the layman).
  • Our recommendations and action plans always exhibit axioposity (the quality that makes something believable).
  • We don’t drown our clients in technical minutiae; you can count on us to have ensynopticity (the ability to take a general view of things).
  • Every one of our principals is an ideopraxist (one who puts ideas into practice).
  • The fundamental challenge for most organizations today is misocainia (contempt for new ideas and change).

Words Helpful in Writing

  • Asserting the results had broad implications for teams and groups as well as cohorts was a sterling example of poecilonymy (use of several names for the same thing).
  • Her thesis was a demonstration of amphigory (nonsensical writing) cloaked in ampollocity (pompous words).
  • His explanation for the results was foraminous (full of holes).
  • The description of how their research tested Smith’s theory was a classic eisegesis (the interpretation of a text by sneaking in one’s own ideas as the author’s).
  • The lexiphanic (using pretentious language) eclaircissement (clarification) provided by the author in the rebuttal still rendered the conclusion exponible (needing further explanation).

Words Helpful in Research

  • Regression analysis uses data to make predictions: other methods of prediction use barley meal (alphitomancy), figs (sychomancy), and urine (urimancy).
  • Dysfunctional work behavior demands an understanding of ergasiophobia (aversion to work) and hypengyophobia (fear of assuming responsibility).
  • For some people work/life stress induces phrontifogic (anxiety reducing) oniochalasia (retail therapy).
  • On-the-job training provides resipiscent (knowledge learned from experience) development.
  • Orientation programs serve a projicent (helping an organism fit into its environment) function.

Words Helpful in Dealing With Critics

  • The editor obviously suffers from sophomania (delusions of exceptional intelligence).
  • The nullifidian’s (skeptic) comments were acataleptic (incomprehensible).
  • Rejection of my ideas can only be attributed to cacophrenic (pertaining to an inferior intellect) judgment.
  • My manuscript was given a balanced review: half jobition (tedious criticism) and half animadversion (hostile criticism).
  • Judging by the number of times the reviewer cited his own work, he is a case study in pleionosis (exaggeration of one’s own importance).

Words Helpful at the SIOP Conference

  • The SIOP conference can be most awkward if you suffer from lethonomia (tendency to forget names) or prosopolethy (inability to remember faces).
  • In the middle of answering your difficult question at a session, the presenter begins to exhibit embulalia (talking nonsense).
  • It is rare to find a pauciloquent (speaking briefly) discussant.
  • I particularly liked the sessions on malvernation (office politics) and nosism (group conceit).
  • Beware the presenter who engages in tolutiloquence (glib speech).

Can You Believe They Have a Word for This?

  • Wives dote on their husbands. It is so rare when husbands dote on their wives they created a word to describe a husband who does so (uxorious).
  • Have you ever heard a stupid comment followed by another comment just as stupid? The second comment was unasinous (equally stupid).
  • Hemorrhoids (and some supervisors) are proctalgia (a pain in the ass).
  • When is the last time you experienced matutolypea (getting up on the wrong side of the bed)?
  • “Muchinsky’s myopic meanderings mystify many Moldovans” manifests mytacism (excessive use of the letter M).

When writing these words, for crying out loud do not place them in quotation marks or italicize them. To do so screams, “I’m trying to impress you!” Of course you are, but there is no need to telegraph that laten message. Remember, the goal is for you to be perceived as highly intelligent because you know these words. A delightful byproduct is your readers will feel stupid because they don’t. As Gore Vidal once said, “Success is not enough. Your friends must fail.”

When speaking these words, you will get more style points if you lower your voice by about a half an octave. Doing so adds an element of sobriety to your position. There is no need to develop a slightly affectatious accent unless you really want to lay it on heavy. It is imperative that you work on your delivery. Nothing says “phony” louder than a person who has awkward speech pauses in the middle of trying to pronounce a word. We have some real tongue twisters here. And speaking of tongues, to paraphrase Slim Pickens from the movie Blazing Saddles, with practice you’ll be able to use yours better than a semi-sawbuck fricatrice.

My learning these words was a journey of self-discovery, as the counseling psychologists say. After all the years I have been writing The High Society, only now do I understand the column is jocoserious (a combination of funny and serious) adoxography (good writing on a trivial subject). It is always nice to know what you are doing.