Dr. Eric D. Shaw, Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Ltd.


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Case 4

“In three previous memoranda, the content and style of the anonymous note accompanying the emails were examined resulting in hypotheses regarding the psychological characteristics of the author.  These hypotheses were based on less than one hundred words--far less data than usually associated with reliable author profiles.  However, based on available data the note’s author was hypothesized to be an assertive, confident individual who places great personal emphasis on rules, forms, procedures and fairness.  He may also have obsessive characteristics and career experience consistent with strict compliance with rules, procedures and authority. There did not appear to be a strong emotional connection to the parties involved based on the lack of personal feelings and pronouns. However there were many negative evaluators and descriptors in the note, indicating a strong reaction to the activities cited.  This indicated that the author is likely a rather aloof, formal individual.  In personal relationships at work, he may be formal, assertive and confident, very much a leader but also one that leads with close adherence to team rules, procedures and policies. However, he does not offer coworkers much in the way of personal information or feelings in his interactions and may hold himself somewhat above others. People may respect him without viewing him warmly. He may be frustrated that he has not received the recognition he feels he deserves at work, which could contribute to his anger toward the subjects who do not play by the rules.

Two potential candidates were then each reviewed separately and then compared in terms of their possible similarity to the hypothesized characteristics of the anonymous author. There were many similarities between the two candidates and significant overlap with the potential characteristics of the anonymous author.  Both candidates are assertive, confident, like to get to the point and rather formal and rigid in their presentations.  Both try to be team players but struggle with this effort.  They both also appear to have a strong background in Information Technology where many of these characteristics are common and somewhat beneficial. Both appear to have obsessive and narcissistic traits consistent with those hypothesized in the anonymous author. However, JG appeared to differ from DW in several important personal characteristics.  His personal communications displayed higher levels of moral indignation than DW.  As a result of his strong religious background, JG made more moral judgments about others and was more comfortable expressing these personal judgments.  He also did not hesitate to criticize others in writing. JG also showed signs of personal frustration and disgruntlement that DW did not display.  He also displayed a sensitivity to criticism, anger at not having his needs met and a sense of victimization.  In addition, in terms of specific psycholinguistic markers consistent with the anonymous author, both candidates displayed redundancies and errors in their emails.  However, only JG showed high levels of negative evaluators, personal references with complaints, and frequent rhetorical questions.  Unlike JG, DW often used an unusual font similar to that selected for the cover memo. 


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