On personal preferences that shape research
A thought from last weekend discussion on differences in personal feelings and strategies in respect to a group pressure (e.g. how do you feel when a group of your close friends decides to do something you don't really enjoy) - personal preferences like this one seem to find a way into work things that are not related at the first sight.
I usually find emotionally difficult to "have good time with nice people regardless of the activity" and need a strong personal reason ("enjoying the activity while having fun with others") to join in. For me integrating in another culture is not easy - not figuring out how it works, but complying to the underlying rules just because it makes life more socially rewarding. I'm not fast in going for a concensus in a work-related discussions and if I do it's usually based on goal-related argumentation rather than grounded in keeping emotional peace in the group. People say I'm stubborn - I prefer to rephrase it into "I don't have a problem of giving up my position, I only need some good arguments to be convinced" :)
Giving all that it should not be surpising that that lots of my research is focused on individual perspective on things at work, as well as on negotiations and interplays between individuals and bigger social forces (groups, communities, organisations) around that. I realised this at the end of the discussion of differences between me and Robert in respect to handing social pressure, when he remarked that our choices for PhD topics say a lot about preferences for it (his PhD is on designing technology to support groups ;)
I wonder if someone did a study on how people choose and shape their PhD topic - given my personal experiences it's hard to believe that this is done based on purely scientific ground of identifying gaps in existing theories... In this respect reflecting on my own choices for doing PhD (topics, methodology, ethics, etc.) has been a great source for understanding myself. May be it's a main reason to do a PhD after all :)))