Naked truth startles the mind. Half truth goes even beyond that.

One of the most common and also the most confusing phrases used in SSB Preparations is ‘Positive’. Number of academies and self-proclaimed experts are there to guide the aspirants with the evergreen phrase ‘Be Positive’ or ‘Show Positive Attitude’. I don’t wish to prove them wrong but wish to stress that this mantra sells alright but leaves you confused.

‘Be positive’ mantra if not understood well, can have dangerous consequences.

So a story has to be positive (in Thematic Apperception Test), a sentence has to be positive (in Word Association Test) and a response has to be positive (in Situation Reaction Test). Not only this but also- a negative word has to be converted into positive word (how?????). With these instructions most of the SSB coaching academies ask you to start your preparation. Am I right?

When I asked the meaning of what is a positive story to an aspirant he gave me rather sketchy answer. According to that candidate a positive story is a ‘complete’ story, in which the hero is protagonist of values, which is mission oriented and in which he/she achieves the goal successfully.

The answer to what is a positive sentence is further confusing. A positive sentence is the one in which no phrases or negative facts are mentioned…which does not have dos and don’ts….which contains logic.

In psychology a response (or behaviour) is just a response. It reflects on certain psychological aspect. It either stands in accordance to his personality or is a freak behaviour. Not only psychological but social and cultural contents of his personality are also reflected through a response. Psychology as a science takes response or behaviour as behaviour. Psychology rarely evaluates behaviour to be positive or negative in the way it is taught at most of the SSB coaching centers.

According to psychology, any response or behaviour that promotes adjustment/resolves conflict or mental hygiene is a positive response (or Defence Mechanism).

Actually, the terms positive or negative sell faster. Other disciplines like management use this term rather frequently. Positive or negative are not absolute terms. What may be positive from one angle might be negative from another. ‘Don’t fight even with your enemy’ may highly positive from a spiritual or philanthropic angle while ‘fighting and annihilating enemy’ is highly positive from military point of view.

Also, I wish to submit that no word is positive or negative in itself. Words like death/disease/kill/rape reflect only on certain realities of daily life. Words like Kill/murder might sound highly negative from a common view point. But a murder is a professional challenge for an investigative agency or forensic scientist. Rape is brutality against women but gives fodder for social, psychological, legal and educational thinkers.

So, let’s not confuse ourselves. Yes, one cannot avoid the terms positive or negative from our routine parlance.

According to me:

A positive story is a story in which a difficult mission is achieved through hard work and a strategy (application of resources) by the central character (who is of the similar age and gender of the) candidate.

A positive sentence the one that reflect an idea or thought.

A positive response/reaction (in SRT) is the one in which the core issue of the situation is solved by practical means and methods.


Hope you found this post useful! If you have something to add, you want to share your experience or have any question, please, leave your comments.

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