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Making Sense of People: The Science of Personality Differences, Second Edition
Barondes, Samuel
Prentice-Hall / Hardcover / 2015-11-01 / 0134215001
price: $45.99 (may be subject to change)
256 pages
Not in stock - ships in one week.

Every day, we all size up each other: It's one of the most important things we ever do. Making Sense of People, Second Edition gives you scientific frameworks and tools for improving your intuition about people, so you can assess them more consciously, systematically, and effectively.

Leading neuroscientist Samuel H. Barondes explains the research behind every standard personality category: extraversion/introversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. He shows how to use these traits and assessments to do a better job of deciding who you’ll enjoy spending time with, whom to trust, and whom to keep at a distance.

This Second Edition adds even more practical assistance in applying these techniques with the people in your life: more “how to,” and more “here’s why.” Every chapter now contains a “Practical Summary” section reinforcing Barondes’s powerful techniques and helping you put them to work. He even guides you through building a deep and personally meaningful understanding of one important person in your life, integrating multiple perspectives into a rich and complex picture of what makes them unique. Along the way, you will discover:

• What neuroscience and psychological research can tell us about how personality types develop and cohere
• How genes, nurture, and education intertwine 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
• Powerful general strategies for getting along with people, with specific tactics for special circumstances


A leading neuroscientist explains personalities iesy science for everyone – now, with even more practical tools for understanding others and predicting their behavior

• A step-by-step system for understanding any personality, based on decades of psychological, psychiatric, and neuroscientific research – is neuroscientific a word?
• Now includes even more practical help for gaining and using psychological insight about the people in your life: both “how to” and “here’s why”
• Provides usable guidelines for assessing character and motivation, improving your own responses to others, choosing your associates, and deciding whom to trust
• Illuminates the latest research behind extraversion/introversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness

Table of Contents

Preface to Second Edition xi

Introduction: When Intuition Isn’t Enough 1

Part I: Describing Personality Differences

1 Personality Traits 7

2 Troublesome Patterns 33

Part II: Explaining Personality Differences

3 How Genes Make Us Different 65

4 Building a Personal Brain 87

Part III: Whole Persons, Whole Lives

5 What’s a Good Character? 111

6 Identity: Creating a Personal Story 139

7 Putting It All Together 159

Endnotes 175

References 199

Acknowledgments 221

Index 227


“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

About the Author:

Samuel Barondes is the Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Professor and Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco. He was trained in psychiatry and neuroscience at Columbia, Harvard, and the National Institutes of Health and has been at the University of California since 1970. He is the author of more than 200 research articles and has held many administrative and advisory positions, including Director of UCSF’s Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, President of the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, and Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Mental Health. He has received many honors, including membership in the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to his research publications, Barondes has written three books about psychiatry for a general audience as well as a children’s poetry book: Before I Sleep: Poems for Children Who Think. He lives in Sausalito, California, with his wife, Louann Brizendine.

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