Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality (FT Press Science)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
development called critical periods. Critical Periods in Brain Development A critical period is a window in time when certain brain circuits are open to essential environmental information. Arrival of this information shapes the circuits in a lasting way.4 Once this shaping is completed, the window is closed. The most famous example of a critical period comes from Konrad Lorenz, who studied the behavior of baby geese. Lorenz found that each baby is primed to pay special attention to
the first moving creature it sees after hatching—generally, its mother. This information is immediately imprinted in its brain, which leads it to follow its mother in those cute little trails of goslings. But if the mother goose is removed during hatching and replaced by another moving creature—such as Lorenz himself—the babies may imprint on him instead. The result is recorded in pictures of goslings trailing the bearded scientist. Another well-known example is the development of the
them beg for explicit attention? Might there be moral instincts that incorporate specific emotions into our assessments of people? Moral Instincts and Moral Emotions The idea that there are moral instincts is not new, and one of its main proponents was none other than Charles Darwin. Having recognized that instinctive social behaviors of animals evolved by natural selection, Darwin concluded that the same was also true for humans and that this process contributed to the development of
weaknesses. A good way to start is to consider how the person measures up on the three domains of character: self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence. We can then flesh out the picture by examining the way the person expresses each of the six core virtues: temperance, courage, humanity, justice, wisdom, and transcendence. In making a conscious moral assessment, I believe that it is also necessary to take note of the degree to which we are relying on universal as opposed to
Leeuwen, S. M. van den Berg, D. L. Collins, A. C. Evans, D. I. Boomsma, R. S. Kahn, and H. E. Hulshoff Pol. “Heritability of Regional and Global Brain Structure at the Onset of Puberty: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of 9-Year-Old Twin Pairs.” Human Brain Mapping 30 (2009): 2,184–2,196. Perani, D., and J. Abutalebi. “The Neural Basis of First and Second Language Processing.” Current Opinion in Neurobiology 15 (2005): 202–206. Peterson, C., and M. E. P. Seligman. Character Strengths and