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Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality
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Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,030 ratings  ·  65 reviews
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: ...more
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published July 2nd 2011 by FT Press (first published June 1st 2011)
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,030 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly recommended for the armchair psychologist (A little information, they say). Anyway, I don't know how much I'll actually use the information in this book, since I think we tend to go with our gut in deciding whether we like someone or not, rather than attempting to decipher the various facets of their personality, but still it was interesting, and potentially useful. The part I found most enlightening was the description of the Big Five personality traits used by psychologists, and the Top ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a great book BUT IT ENDED HALF WAY THROUGH!!!!!! The rest of the book is footnotes! WTF When you advertise a book that is 240 pages DON'T INCLUDE FOOTNOTE PAGES!!

That is all.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I admit. I didn't finish it. I got about half-way through the actual written text (yes, it does stop 50% through the book - the rest is footnotes) before I threw up my hands.

The premise is really neat, but reading this book is like being trapped with a fifth grader whose PowerPoint presentation is "ONLINE PERSONALITY TESTS ACROSS THE AGES AND HOW TO USE THEM ON YOUR FRIENDS". And they keep reading off note cards and refuse to make eye contact with anyone .

I don't think it would be so bad if Baro
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Although the title, "Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality," indicates a self-help road map to understanding individuals, I find the book to be more informative than instructional. I'm enthralled with Mr. Barondes ability to take a topic as complicated and complex as the human personality and condense it to 150 pages of easy-to-read. I'm also quite grateful for the long list of references he includes at the conclusion of the book for those of us who are inclined to do fur ...more
May 31, 2012 rated it liked it
I couldn't help but find this read indulgent. Maybe it's because I'm a psych student, but all the material that Barondes covered could have been condensed to the first two informational chapters plus one more. I thought the biology lesson strayed from the overall message. I suppose this book would've been highly enjoyable if I had no prior knowledge of the topic, but I kept waiting for the big point and then became frustrated when I realized that the last 50 pages were endnotes. 3 stars for obvi ...more
Amy Raby
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
My primary complaint about this book is that it's too short. Not counting the end notes, it's only 150 pages, so if you're looking for an in-depth look at personality, this may not be the best choice. However, the book was great for me because I've already read several books on personality, and despite its short length, this book went deeper into a couple of areas I'd already had an overview of, and so it added to my understanding.

This book discusses the Big Five personality traits (Extraversion
Karen Zelano
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Some of the research and data shared here is very interesting. The personality assessments and psychological insights are helpful to understand as tools to getting along with and seeing others for who they are.. The author tries to illustrate how this information can be applied to real life by profiling real people such as Benjamin Franklin, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Here is where the book becomes less objective and more of a guide on how to judge people. His opinions on personality traits ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I got this for free from my nook, deals with the "Big 5" personality traits. Mostly very Pop-psyche, but has a few interesting thoughts along the way.

I'm not sure it would really accomplish any of it's claims for someone who isn't good at "reading people" since it mostly just describes the Big 5 and loosely applies them to some public profiles, and some personality disorders.

The writing was reasonably clear, and again a few interesting thoughts presented, tho' I think the most worthwhile thing
Liz Ward
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was full of great information about personality. This book isn't just about how to decode personality. It's also about what makes up personality in the first place, and how it differs from morality. Making Sense of People helped me gain a better understanding of people. I can say that I am more empathetic with others now that I can understand them better.
Marcy Peska
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Much of the material in this book was familiar to me but I hadn't connected all the pieces in quite the way the author does. I thoroughly enjoyed this read & found the discussion of epigenetics especially interesting. I figure reading this book may be near equivalent to what a Theory of Personality course would cover but a lot less expensive.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books
Amazing book,, to the point, has a very interesting connection between Traits and Patterns in personality.
the genetics part is perfect to convey the message of weighing between nature and nurture.
and to sum up it emphasize the importance of a life story to the Identity of any personality/character.
Anthony Cheng
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The missing handbook for personality development. Thoroughly cited and researched with choice illustrations and examples.
May 05, 2015 marked it as to-read

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 assess

Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great descriptor of the dimensions of which people are comprised! The book examines personality (from the Big 5 personality traits perspective), takes a look at clinically recognised personality disorders (e.g. borderline, antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders) and then describes the importance of character and personal identity in this overall picture.

I enjoyed the depth of literature referred to in the book. The book leans academically in tone and this is a welcome deviation from
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This is pretty short, not personally appreciated as I hoped I would have since coming by it in Tribe of Mentors. Learnt some stuff but most of the time wondered how practical it is for me to study myself against the world and vice versa and what wisdom would that be with so much limited time at hand
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't get a lot from this that I didn't already know. It was a nice review of psychology terms and figures but that's about it. If anything I'd like to read more about Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Obama - those were the most interesting parts of the book.
Steven Perry
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Felt like it was going to go somewhere and then the book ended. Almost half the book is footnotes, reference listing, etc.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Practical, with excellent examples.
Emily Cothern
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was recommended on the Tim Ferriss Podcast, where I get many of my recommended reads. The idea behind this book is that there are 5 primary components of personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism to produce the acronym OCEAN, and then the opposites of each of these and the full range between the two. For example, Extraversion has the opposite Introversion and the middle point of ambiversion, but there is a wide range of people between the tw ...more
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
*Personality decoded*

Are you fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of human behavior? Confused by the tremendous variation of the personalities of people around you? Wanting to make sense of why people are the way they are? Then, _Making Sense of People_ will likely make sense for you to read.

In this masterful guide, author Samuel Barondes brilliantly integrates the science of personality with the art of humanity to help make sense of human behavior. In the first part of the book, Samuel shows how t
Kater Cheek
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I like that it uses the "big five" personality descriptions. I learned something interesting, in that dis-agreeable people tend to earn more than agreeable people. It's a subject I like, and it's a subject I can barely get enough of, but I started to notice that I'd been reading and reading and reading and hadn't gotten very far in the book. And, like some of the not-so-good lecturers, I'd stopped paying attention to what I was reading and wasn't sure ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
The brain's building plan was not drafted by the systematic methods of professional architects. instead, each brain uses a scheme that would drive contractors crazy, with continuous remodeling due to changes in both genetic and environmental instructions while the project is still underway.


The description of troublesome forms of this pattern in DSM-IV begins with three signs of such turbulence: "Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment"; "unstable and intense interpersonal relati
Dee Renee  Chesnut
I received this as a free ebook from, when it was recommended in a comment on the Free Friday blog. I read it because I want to understand people, and this recommends a systematic way to observe for information and to listen to the stories people tell about themselves.
If you are looking for a pop psychology book to help you change someone, this may not be the book for you. This book has information about the scientists and their experiments that help describe terms for personalities, tra
Sydney Frawley
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great informational piece giving you several ways of how to study, analyze, and decode the personality of others around you by giving some of the essential tools and systems that help you understand identity, characteristics and traits. The information in this book is pretty basic about reading and understanding people, but it connects all of the commonly thought ideas together, making it easier to think about the shaping of a person and why they act the way they do. I personally ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012-nonfiction
I like personality books, books that help you understand yourself and others. I am not sure, though, that this book quite lives up to its' title of "Making Sense Of People." It mainly discusses five major personality traits, defined as : Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness. It then outlines these traits as can be seen in several well-known personalities. I would have like for it to have a quiz that you could personally take to see how high or low you ranked i ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
I don't understand why the author wrote this book. There may be a prior bestseller that generated a large advance, precipitating a need to deliver a book. I thought I was getting an insight into people. What I got was, well, I'm not even sure. I know it wasn't what I wanted. There is a reasonably accessible description of various personality traits and disorders and some signs of each, but the end result falls woefully short of the tagline's promise. Apart from a quick entry into the world of ps ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Samuel Barondes legt uns ein System nahe, mittels dem es uns einfacher fallen soll Menschen bewusst besser einschätzen zu können, sofern wir uns darin auch üben. Das Buch ist gespickt mit interessanten Studien und Geschichten. Wir erfahren etwas über das Gehirn und über Gene, über Persönlichkeitsbildung uvm. . Jedenfalls fand ich großen Gefallen an dem Buch, auch wenn ich das Vokabelheft öfters in der Hand hatte. Was ich auch gut fand, ist, dass er zum Denken anregt, ohne in irgendeine Form des ...more
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
After reading this book, I am not sure who Barondes had expected to be his audience. As someone with a strong psychology background, including some, but not extensive knowledge regarding personality, I felt the book was probably meant for the layperson, as I already knew much of the theory he was trying to explain. However, much of the book didn't appear to be written for the layperson. Many of his examples are interesting, and this book would likely be of interest to those looking to learn more ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I really liked this book because it is a psychological one, which describes the types of personalities that people can develop. The book teaches us how to identify people we know using 5 types of personalities that the author develops.

The truth is, that for learning the five personalities have to the well-studied, but at least you can read once slight identify some of the personalities described in the book.

Alex Moskalyuk
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Author provides a basic framework on decoding different personalities. He suggests the following evaluation criteria: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness, with each one of us receiving a score on each criterion. It doesn't "decode" someone's personality necessarily by providing tools to deal with them, but gives you a quick framework to dismantle their personality.
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Samuel H. Barondes , M.D. is Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Professor and Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. A leading authority on the application of molecular biology to psychiatry, he is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and recently served as Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors o ...more
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