Episode 82: What’s the Best Personality to be a Waiter?

MichaelPersonality2 Comments

What kind of personality do you need to be a good waiter/waitress? In a previous episode we talked about the tactics: touching customers, drawing smiley faces on bills, crouching down to the customer’s level, etc. But these strategies don’t always work, so what kind of person do you need to be? We find out in this episode as we explore the personality trait called the Self-Monitoring personality.

Thank you to Jessica, Glynda, Nick and Laurie for allowing me to interview them for this episode.

Articles on Self Monitoring

  • Snyder, M. (1974). Self Monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526-537.
  • Lippa, R. & Donaldson, S. I. (1990). Self-monitoring and idiographic measures of behavioral variability across interpersonal relationships. Journal of Personality, 58, 465-479.
  • Ickes, W., Reidhead, S., & Patterson, M. (1986). Machiavellianism and self-monitoring: As different as “me” and “you.” Social Cognition, 4, 58-74.
  • Snyder, M. & Gangestad, S. (1986). On the nature of self-monitoring: Matters of assessment, matters of validity, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1, 125-139.

Examples of Reliability and Validity in this Episode

  • At approximately 14 minutes: test-retest reliability: if you are a self monitoring person then you should score highly on the test every time I give it to you.
  • At approximately 15:15 minutes: internal reliability: if I have 10 questions that all measure the same idea (let’s say your ability to read visual cues from others) and you have this ability, then you should score highly on all 10 questions.
  • Validity: in order to establish a test as valid, you have to have more than reliability. You have to make predictions about what people who score highly on your test are like in real life. For example, you could give the test to a group of successful sales people (operationally defined as salespeople who make a lot of money) and to a group of not very successful salespeople. The successful sales people should score highly on your test, and the unsuccessful people should obtain a low score.

Sites with Information on Self Monitoring

The Personality Pedagogy site run by Dr. Marianne Miserandino.

The helpful website I mentioned at the end of the episode is JogLab, a website with a tool which helps you build acronyms. Check it out!

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2 Comments on “Episode 82: What’s the Best Personality to be a Waiter?”

  1. Hi Michael –

    Thanks again for your podcasts – always enjoyable. Since you seem interested in feedback, your recent discussions of tipping reminded me of a story from my favorite NPR program, ‘This American Life’ (TAL).

    The story in question dealt with ‘mean people’ and, in Act Two, they tried an experiment whereby some waitresses behaved alternately nice or aloof to their customers. Interestingly, this admittedly non-scientific study reached the conclusion that niceness didn’t matter.

    When they interviewed some other waitresses, several suggested that customers tip the same amount regardless.

    Anyway, if you were citing some carefully controlled studies in your podcast, I’m sure they are more accurate than the one conducted on TAL. But I thought you might find the story interesting anyway.

    In case you’re interested, here’s the link to the podcast: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=245


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