What kind of people would Dune's gom jabbbar test select for IRL?

So rewatching Dune again I had the random thought about the gom jabbbar test. In the Dune universe it’s used by the Bene Geserrit to select their elite from the “animals” that make up the rest of humanity.

But would the people so selected actually be better at leadership, planning and life generally? I mean for starters the Bene Geserrit elite will have to deal with shockingly high levels of PTSD and trust issues, just because of the test itself. But ignoring that and the slight ethical issues with aptitude tests that involve murdering most of the participants (though having gone through the hiring process recently I might choose it over Hackerrank :wink:)

Is there actually a link between being able to control your Instinctual reaction to pull away when undergoing extreme pain, and any other advantageous character trait?

I can’t actually remember… Are the tested individuals told the stakes before they start? If they’re not, then all the test is actually selecting for is masochists. Sure, a rational person, given the choice between temporary excruciating pain and death, might choose the pain… but if the choice is just between the pain and no pain, without all of the context (like, that the alternative is death, or that the pain is illusory), choosing pain is the irrational choice.

No not in the film at least (it’s been decades since I read the book). They are basically ambushed after breakfast, saying “the reverend mother would like to speak with you” and then next thing you know your hand is in the box. There is no choice involved by the participants

Yes they are.

Funny this should come up. Just saw the film in the plane two hours ago. The BG woman told Paul that it would hurt a lot and if he pulled his hand out, the poison needle would get stuck in his neck. The only thing she didn’t say in advance was that Paul was not allowed to scream either.

I really enjoyed the film by the way.

But his hand is already in the box and the needle is at his neck by the time the explanation is given IIRC

Which is sort of commented upon in Villeneuve’s Part 2.

So I just rewatched that scene in the Villeneuve version and definitely his hand is in the box, and she has the gom jabbbar at his neck, by the time she explains how the test works

In the book IIRC they are told as the test begins.

For the purposes of this thread we’ll use the film version where the participants do not get to self-select.

They show you the box. While you are asking what is inside it, they sneak the needle up near your neck. Then they offer you a choice: Avoid the pain and die now, or endure the pain and live to plot vengeance later.

The test is to determine whether you are able to make short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term goals.

That’s the intention but would that actually be the result? Is the ability to resist the instinct to pull away when encountering extreme pain actually associated with better long-term decision making? Or are you just selecting for psychos or people with high pain thresholds that share no other advantageous personality traits?

Seems like they’d be better off testing when young with marshmallows …

I also thought of that. Though IRL that is one the the many experiments that end up measuring the confounding factor of “how rich is this kid”:

So fan theory (just invented by me) the Gom Jabbbar Test is actually a way for the BG to weed to out any entitled aristo boy they think is a risk of becoming a universe ruling tyrant. They always claim “we don’t normal administer this test to boys, but your spoiled nepobaby is special” :wink:

Interesting article and funny enough the issues they note with the marshmallow test are relevant for the fictional test. A child who has always gotten treats once promised will be more likely to pass the marshmallow test; someone knows that harsh punishments are always delivered upon will pass the gom jabber.

In each case you have to believe that the promised result will occur.

In the recent Dune 2 movie it seems to me like it is testing their ability to manipulate the subject more than anything else.

To the Bene Gesserit way of thinking which is all about control over mind and body … yes.

Been a while since I read the book, but I recall the victim isn’t told it’s just neural stimulation until after the test. If you think your hand is actually being destroyed you’re more likely to yank it out. If you realize on some level that it’s just an illusion(albeit an extremely painful one) it’s easier to grin and bear it.
Perhaps the test is for the ability to know the difference on some level.

I mean they may think that. But did they do statistical analysis on the character traits of people who passed the test vs the general population that showed that?

I would say I bet they don’t cover that in the book, but it is totally the kind of thing Frank Herbert would put in an appendix :wink:

Doubt it. In their own head they are always right so why bother testing it.

People who have failed the test, statistically speaking, do a terrible job of leading.