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le 30 décembre 2010
This is the kind of book I wish I had in high school. No one teaches the art of thinking but every once in a while we have to give our brains a tune-up. One of my favorite topics is how the four classic mindsets influence how we view the world. I love how the following problem says so much about the way we think and how every answer choice is both right and wrong:

Which of the following five sports is least like the other four?

A) Baseball
B) Cricket
C) Soccer (Football)
D) Golf
E) Ice Hockey

This is indeed an interesting question highlighting the possibility of multiple solutions and subjective interpretations. Not only would such a question never be chosen for an IQ test, but it also hints at ambiguity so often present whenever individuals make choices.

Most people find themselves choosing choice D insofar as golf is primarily an individual sport while the other sports are team sports. Golf is also the only sport here in which a lower score beats a higher score. Some pontificate whether the distinction rests on the degree to which golf is more mental than physical while the other four sports are more physical than mental. Certainly physical speed is of obvious importance in all sports except golf.

Choice E is likely the next most popular answer. Ice hockey is essentially a winter sport, whereas the other sports are typically played in warmer weather. In ice hockey, players use skates, whereas in the other sports players use sporting shoes. Ice hockey is also played with a puck, the others, with balls! (Pun intended -- ice hockey is notorious for being one of the roughest of sports and the only one listed above where you can legitimately "check" another player.)

A number of people view soccer (football) as least like the other three. After all, the other sports are played with stick-like objects: golf requires clubs, irons, and putters; ice hockey requires sticks, and baseball and cricket require bats. Football (soccer) also is played with an air-filled object, not a solid ball or puck.

People who choose choice A point to the fact that baseball has no true world championship -- the "World Series" is an American phenomenon. Choice B (cricket) represents a sport that is played primarily in Commonwealth countries.

Every answer choice is both right and wrong! In summary, there are at least four distinct ways in which individuals draw broad contrasts among these different sports. Some people tend to focus first on the number of people who play the sport (individual vs. team sport), some focus on the speed with which each sport is played (walking vs. running), some focus on the objects used to play the sport (puck vs. ball, inflatable object vs. non-inflatable object, stick-like object vs. non-stick-like object), while others see these sports in the context of when (winter vs. summer, cold weather vs. warm weather) or where they are played (within a particular country or region).

In terms of thinking about how different people think, it is useful to massage the concept of "mindset." Many schemas exist which seek to classify mindsets. For instance, if we were to spend time reviewing how various people choose an answer to the above multiple-choice question, we might find the following: some people are more analytical, some more holistic, some are more results-oriented, and some are more process-oriented. Case in point: People who are analytically minded tend to focus on the instruments used to play the sport. People who are holistically minded tend to see the sport in terms of when and where (i.e., geography) it is played. People who are results-oriented are more likely to see the end result, contrasting the desirable low scores in golf with the desirable high scores in the other four sports. Process-oriented individuals will likely see contrasts in the number of players who play each sport, their physical size, and their athletic movements.
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