Every day, we evaluate the people around us: It's one of the most important things we ever do. Making Sense of People provides the scientific frameworks and tools we need to improve our intuition, and assess people more consciously, systematically, and effectively.
Leading neuroscientist Samuel H. Barondes explains the research behind each standard personality category: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. He shows readers how to use these traits and assessments to do a better job of deciding who they'll enjoy spending time with, whom to trust, and whom to keep at a distance. Barondes explains:
- What neuroscience and psychological research can tell us about how personality types develop and cohere.
- The intertwined roles of genes, nurture, and education in personality development.
- How to recognize troublesome personality patterns such as narcissism, sociopathy, and paranoia.
- How much a child's behavior predicts their adult personality, and how personality stabilizes in young adulthood.
- How to assess integrity, fairness, wisdom, and other traits related to morality.
- What genetic testing may (or may not) teach us about personality in the future.
- General strategies for getting along with people, with specific tactics for special circumstances.
A succinct look at personality psychology.
As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of California, Barondes (Molecules and Mental Illness, 2007, etc.) has spent years studying human behavior, and this book reflects his systematic, scientific approach for personality assessment. The average person isn't likely to have time to research a difficult boss or potential love interest, but the author supplements intuition with a useful cornerstone for gauging human behavior: a table of the "Big Five" personality traits, among them Extraversion vs. Introversion and Agreeableness vs. Antagonism. To learn how to apply the Big Five, Barondes supplies a link for a professional online personality test, in addition to a basic introduction of troubling personality patterns–e.g., narcissism and compulsiveness. While genetics may play a heavy hand in influencing personality, Barondes writes, it's awareness of a person's background, character and life story that is paramount in unearthing reasons for adult behavior. Readers might like to see the author weave more everyday examples into the text–his exercise in fostering compassion by imagining an adult as a 10-year-old child is a gem–but there is plenty here to ponder.
Those looking for traditional "self-help" advice won't find it here, but this book clearly lays the groundwork for deeper human interaction and better life relationships.
From the Back Cover
“This pioneering book does for our mental life what the periodic table did for chemistry; it breaks the mind down into elementary constituents and their interactions--thereby transforming personality research into science. In addition to being a rich treasure-trove of insights into human nature, it can potentially enrich your relationships with people. Barondes has written a masterpiece.”
--V.S. Ramachandran, author of Phantoms in the Brain and The Tell-Tale Mind
“We’re a fantastically social species, constantly taking the measure of everyone’s personality. In this wise, enjoyable book, the esteemed biological psychiatrist Sam Barondes considers ways to build up this vital skill. The book is clear, entertaining, and educational, and will not only make you a more adept social primate, but a more self-reflective one as well.”
--Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology, Stanford University; author of A Primate’s Memoir and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
“Making Sense of People is a marvelous guided tour through the infinitely variable landscape of personality. Barondes truly illuminates how genes and environment shape human behavior, and he tells the story with an engaging armchair style that makes the book hard to put down!”
--John Oldham, President, American Psychiatric Association; author of The New Personality Self-Portrait
“Human beings judge personalities every day, but often in an unconscious muddle. Sam Barondes has taken a daunting research literature on personality and has made it remarkably accessible as well as useful. I suspect that many psychiatrists will find this book as valuable as lay readers will.”
--Steven E. Hyman, Professor of Neurobiology and Provost, Harvard University; former Director, National Institute of Mental Health
“In Making Sense of People, Sam Barondes, a superb teacher and writer, creates his own schema to help us better understand each other and make the right decisions about who to share our lives with. A highly readable and enjoyable introduction to the psychology of everyday life.”
--Eric Kandel, University Professor, Columbia University; Nobel Laureate; author of In Search of Memory
What really bothers you about your boss--or your daughter’s boyfriend? Could the person you’re dating really become your life partner? Can you really rely on your intuition about people? This book will help you find out.
Drawing on extensive research, renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist Samuel Barondes gives you powerful, easy-to-use tools for understanding what people are really like and how they got to be the way they are. These tools will provide you with a system for assessing the person’s traits, character, and sense of identity, and then putting these elements together into a unified picture. Learning to think of people in this way will help you choose more satisfying relationships, recognize telltale signs of dysfunction and danger, and savor the complexity and uniqueness of everyone you meet.
Supplement your intuition!
• Learn a system for understanding anyone
• Identify character strengths and weaknesses
• Make better decisions about whom to seek out and whom to avoid
• Find out how all personalities are shaped by two great chance events:
the set of genes we happen to be born with, and the particular world
we happen to grow up in