Thursday 18 August 2011

The London Underground Personality Profiler

Yesterday morning I had a meeting with a company which has developed a very neat personality profiling tool which uses psychological characteristics to understand people's values and attitudes. The tool divides people into 8 categories based on their values, and is potentially a great benefit to marketeers since it adds another layer of insight to conventional behavioural profiling. Categories include Aspirer, Thriver and Belonger. I'll post more about this when the company goes public with its service offering.

In the evening I met up with Sean Brady, an old friend who is now a senior officer in the Royal Marines and an MBA student. In fact Sean is blogging for the FT about his MBA experience. We discussed the Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessments that we have both used (and found that our profiles are very similar), and the role of self-knowledge in motivation, a subject Sean has agreed to guest-blog on here shortly.

In the meantime, I have developed a personality profiling tool of my own. Having lived in London for several years now, I suggest that you can divide people into 4 personality types on the basis of how they behave on the escalators bringing them up from the Tube. Convention dictates that people who wish to stand should stand on the right side so that those in a hurry can walk or run up the steps on the left side.

So, the chart above divides people according to whether they walk or stand, and which side of the escalator they use:

A - walks or runs up the left side of the escalator
B - walks or runs up the right side of an empty escalator so faster As can overtake on the left
C - stands on the right
D - stands on the left, blocking the progress of A and B

I've suggested some percentages based on observation, but I'm looking for names to describe categories A-D - what do you think? And where do you fit in the chart yourself? 


  1. I would like to think that I'm a 'B' - giving way to those in more of a rush than me. But in reality I'm an 'A' most of the time.
    My suggestions:
    A - Running late for work
    B - Will be on time if I move a bit quicker
    C - Left on time thanks!
    D - If I'm going down, I'm taking you all with me...

    I think there is also a 5th type. The 'Wheelie Suitcases'. You know who you are!

  2. I like Ruth's thoughts and agree. In the incredibly busy London underground there might, however, be a few extra groups...

    Stands on the left but then moves to the right once they realise = tourist or non-regular-visitor = Switched-on Newbie

    Stands on the left with suitcase or backpack, oblivious to the signs or the behaviours of those around them = Dull Newbie

    Stands on the left wearing a suit (ie; perhaps should know better) = My ipod means I don't have to engage with the world...

    Walks or runs up the left side huffing and tutting = Intolerant Londoner who should relax a touch...

  3. I believe that I mostly stand on the right, however if I have messed my time appreciation up I obviously start walking on the left.

    In addition, I hope I will not make the mistake again of trying to avoid a queue by walking quickly up a broken escalator without assessing how far the climb was. However, once committed to attacking it at pace I had no other option but to maintain the speed of my advance whilst appearing to not be affected. In reality I was hanging out before I reached half way but thats when the commando training kicked in, or was it pride?