Cube Psychology

A favourite pastime during tea at work is to secretly psychoanalyse everyone with my next-door office neighbour. She has a small puzzle on her desk, with wooden pieces that need to be arranged to form a cube. This little cube has made our task much more interesting.

The pieces look similar to tetris blocks, but in 3D. It’s fascinating to observe everyone’s reactions to the puzzle, and being a department full of scientists, everyone has a reaction. It is difficult to walk into her office and not pick up a piece of the puzzle and play around with it, or break up the existing cube and try to re-make it. Or to build random structures, like some sort of avant garde art. And there’s more than one way to arrange the blocks into a cube, the best way being with alternating colours.

Cube

Psychoanalysis tool of the modern geologist

There are those who cannot concentrate on their actual jobs until they’ve figured it out, (easily distracted, serial procrastinators, perseverance, curious minds?). An engineer from another department took it home one night to complete it (maybe previous category, maybe stage-fright). Another took a look at it and went to a downstairs colleague’s office to work on a Rubik’s cube instead (too clever for us, huh?).

The most interesting people are those who watch others playing around with it but hold themselves back from trying. Possible theories: 1. fear of failure, 2. not believing in themselves, 3. not wanting to seem more stupid than others if they didn’t get it right the first time, 4. wanting to act like grown ups and not like the rest of us.

Then we also get the tower building types (there’s no point trying so I’d rather just stack them up and admire my art), the cube breakers (is it home time yet?) and those who can only build it when they’re stressed out about other stuff (work well under pressure).

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