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The High Society:  Thirty Famous Quotations Translated Into I-O


Paul M. Muchinsky*
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

*Unamused, indifferent, or entertained readers can contact the author at pmmuchin@uncg.edu.

Over the years my family has given me a wide range of books. The other day I was going through a few of them and came across two old favorites. They were books of famous quotations rendered over the course of history. Ill tell you one thingback then those folks knew how to communicate. I readily admit these quotations are a biased sample. Only the good ones were recorded for posterity. Nevertheless, in only a few very well chosen words a volume was expressed. I was so taken with 30 of these quotations I translated them into how we would express the same thoughts in I-O psychology. So, enjoy the original quotes, and agonize reading how we would have butchered the language.

1. In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
Mark Twain (18351910)
Configuring individuals with low levels of KSAOs into a larger social collectivity will not enhance the likelihood of successful task performance.

2. She has two complexions, A.M. and P.M.
Ring Lardner (18851933)
While some individuals exhibit stable mood, others manifest transient moods associated with daily temporal cycles.

3. To generalize is to be an idiot.
William Blake (17571827)
It is advisable to be temperate in asserting the degree to which validity generalization is tenable.

4. Physicians can bury their mistakes, but architects can only advise their clients to plant vines.
Frank Lloyd Wright (18671959)
Jobs differ in the extent to which compensatory mechanisms are available to mitigate skill deficiency.

5. I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
Mae West (18921980)
The pattern of human development over the lifespan is characterized by progressive changes in behavior.

6. You can pretend to be serious; you cant pretend to be witty.
Sacha Guitry (18851957)
Fakability is the capacity of individuals to intentionally distort their responses to achieve a desired effect. Certain attributes are more effectively distorted than others.

7. People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.
Ogden Nash (19021971)
Research reveals there is a significant positive correlation between prototypical body posture at work and annual compensation. The more the individual suffers from a standing erectile dysfunction, the more compensation is received.

8. Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson (17091784)
It was the consensus of the journal reviewers that while your manuscript raised some novel issues, they are wholly discrepant with the known body of literature on the research topic.

9. We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we dont like?
Jean Cocteau (18891963)
Attribution theory postulates external causative explanations of behavior are ascribed to individuals we hold in unconditional negative regard.

10. If I were a gravedigger or even a hangman, there are some people I would work for with a great deal of enjoyment.
Douglas Jerrold (18031857)
The most gratifying aspects of work meet our strongest needs, even through the work itself may not appear to others as being particularly enriching.

11. I am firm. You are obstinate. He is a pig-headed fool.
Katharine Whitehorn
Perceptual bias contributes to differential assessments of similar behavior, with the more positive attributions being ascribed to behavior most consistent with ones self-image.

12. Love is what happens to men and women who dont know each other.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
The evocation of certain human emotions is enhanced by the uncertainty of the situational dynamics encountered.

13. The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.
Gloria Leonard
Contextual effects can produce differential assessments of events or activities that are seemingly equivalent.

14. There is so little difference between husbands you might as well keep the first.
Adela Rogers St. Johns
Ho: mHI = mH2 = ...mHj
H1: mHI     mH2    ...mHj
The null hypothesis was not rejected (p < .05). 

15. Alimony is like buying oats for a dead horse.
Arthur Baer (18961975)
Research on the escalation of commitment reveals that perservation in behavior in pursuit of a particular outcome can continue beyond the point where the expected utility of the outcome is negligible.

16. My schoolmates would make love to anything that moved, but I never saw any reason to limit myself.
Emo Philips
Maturation of the individual is enhanced by developmental activities of an investigative nature that encompass the full range of human expression.

17. Economists are people who work with numbers but who dont have the personality to be accountants.
What often separates members from similar occupations are differences associated with disposition.

18. A male gynecologist is like an auto mechanic who has never owned a car.
Carrie Shaw
Credibility is a function of both knowledge and primary experience associated with a particular subject domain.

19. Copy from one, its plagiarism; copy from two, its research.
Wilson Mizner (18761933)
Meta-analysis is a method to provide answers to questions based upon the prior research conducted by others.

20. Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
H. L. Mencken (18801956)
Your manuscript will be evaluated by a set of reviewers who are unbiased experts on the topic of your research paper.

21. In making theories always keep a window open so that you can throw one out if necessary.
Bela Schnick (18771967)
The theorist must remain amenable to novel and sometimes bold explanations for the observed phenomenon, with the realization that not all initially proposed explanations may be represented in the final form of the theory.

22. The average PhD thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to the next.
J. Frank Dobie (18881964)
Original research is often an incremental and cumulative process, where the findings from one study provide the basis to continue the investigation in another study.

23. If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.
George Bernard Shaw (18561950)
Some people cannot make a decision based on information that is probabilistic and of uncertain accuracy.

24. He has the answer to everything and the solution to nothing.
Oscar Levant (19061972)
Although possessing very high levels of declarative knowledge, some individuals are markedly deficient in procedural knowledge.

25. Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.
H. L. Mencken (18801956)
Genetic research indicates that 99% of all people are alike; the remaining 1% influences the affective desires of heterosexual men, lesbians, and both bisexual men and women for women.

26. Nothing is ever accomplished by a committee unless it consists of three members, one of which happens to be sick and the other is absent.
Hendrik Van Loon (18821944)
One highly skilled individual can achieve greater performance than lesser skilled individuals constituted into a team.

27. She did not so much cook as assassinate food.
Storm Jameson (18911986)
Differential standards held by some raters can result in assessments of performance characterized by severe negative leniency.

28. Dancing: A perpendicular expression for a horizontal desire.
George Bernard Shaw (18561950)
Goal substitution may motivate behavior in the anticipated belief it will eventually culminate in attaining the desired goal.

29. Bessie Baddock: You, sir, are drunk!
Winston Churchill: And you, madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning.
Winston Churchill (18741965)
Some human attributes are characterized by high temporal stability over a lifetime but other attributes may be characterized by unstable diurnal chronicity.

30. Research is something that tells you a jackass has two ears.
Albert D. Lasker (18801952)
Constructive replication is a process used to verify the correctness of conclusions reached from prior empirical investigations.

There are two ways you can look at this. First, if the original quotations had been expressed in our language, no one would have recorded them for posterity. Second, if we could learn to express ourselves with such pithy clarity, we would probably have fewer internal debates about why so few people know who we are and what we do for a living.

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