The Sidewalk Penny Personality Test

23 Feb

There are three types of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t.

I’ve always liked that joke.  I know that it’s tired and a bit cliched, as are most of its relatives, but it still makes me smile.  I think that has a lot to do with my college education.  You see, Psychology is full of those kinds of jokes.

  • There are two types of people in the world: those with Disassociative Identity Disorder and hang on, let me count again.
  • There are two types of people in the world: the Freudians and those still in denial.
  • My personal favorite: There are two types of people in the world: ones who can extrapolate from incomplete data sets and

These sorts of dichotomous jokes imply that the world can be neatly sorted into two (or three) categories.  I think those jokes appeal to the psychological-minded because at its heart, Psychology is all about the classifications.  We want to understand the human condition, so we make note of all the different forms that can take.  The basic act of diagnosis is collecting a group of symptoms under one label.  In fact, every ten years the APA puts out a new book to make such labeling easier.  (We could spend years arguing about if it’s right or wrong to try to sort people and stick labels on them, but for the sake of this post, let’s overlook that minefield.)

Anyway, those four years of Psych lectures probably has a lot to do with how I came up with The Sidewalk Penny Personality Test (SPPT).  It’s a simple test to conduct, and can tell you a lot about people.  Here’s how it works.

1) Find a mildly busy sidewalk.  One that gets too much or too little traffic will make this test difficult. Sidewalks alongside an outdoor cafe work well.  (For fun with your coworkers, a hallway works as well.)

2) Drop a penny.  It has to be a penny.  There are all kinds of other motives that come into play when you use the larger coins.  Also, try to make sure it’s heads-up.  (This avoids the bad luck bias.  That’s a real thing. I swear.)

3) Take a seat nearby and watch what happens. (Reason 2 why a sidewalk along a cafe works well.)

You see, there are two types of people in the world: those who will pick up a penny on the ground, and those who won’t.  Disclaimer- this isn’t an exact personality test, and there are all kinds of things that could influence a person’s behavior on any given day.  But essentially, you will see two groups emerge: those who notice their surroundings and/or the small details (the penny picker-upper group). and those who are more focused on the big picture and/or distracted (the “what penny?” group).

Go ahead and give it a try.  The results may surprise you.  Plus it will get you outside, or for the hallway testers, at least among other people.  That’s always a bonus.

If you see anything really surprising, let me know.  And as always, if you have a penny story you would like to share, drop me a line.  My email is in the About Me section up top.


3 Responses to “The Sidewalk Penny Personality Test”

  1. thistrailersucks February 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I love your blog! I just started a blog of my own.

    • Losing My Cents February 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

      Thanks. I like your blog as well. Best of luck with it.


  1. The Freight Train Engineer Horn Continuum | Losing My Cents - March 20, 2013

    […] Rather, it’s the presentation of my newest personality scale.  Some of you may remember The Sidewalk Penny Personality Test from last February.  (Some of you have even contacted me to say that you’ve tried it.  […]

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