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.