Is it legitimate to put forth yet another work on personality types? After all, there are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Keirsey Temperaments takes on personality. However, perhaps those formulations did not sink in given the ongoing precarious state of relationships. In this book, the author has constructed a credible model of personality, even if similar to others, which is related to brain chemistry, though that may be the most controversial aspect of her model. Much of the author's supporting data for her model comes from her work with dating services based on responses from thousands.
She defines four basic personality temperaments or traits that exist in all individuals with one being dominate and another secondary. Characteristic of Explorers is tendencies for novelty, enthusiasm, risk-taking, spontaneity, irreverence, adventure, etc. Dopamine is associated with Explorers. Builders are conventional, calm, moral, rule-based, respectful of authority, somewhat cautious, loyal, etc. Serotonin is the chemical that is most closely associated with Builders. Directors are analytical, logical, self-controlled, independent, somewhat competitive, decisive, etc. Testosterone dominates in Directors. Negotiators are very social, intuitive, sympathetic, idealistic, tolerant, agreeable, etc. The author claims that it is estrogen that enables both men and women to have enhanced holistic thinking capability. There seems to be no assertions that one personality is better than another or that such personalities are associated with levels of intelligence.
The author strongly suggests that, if accurately assessed, that these four traits go a long ways toward predicting both attraction and aversion. In a study involving 28,000 members of a dating service, in choosing whom to meet for a first date, at a substantial statistically significant level, both Explorers and Builders seek each other, while Directors of either gender seek Negotiators and vice versa. Attractions to other types pale by comparison. Most of the book is devoted to exploring the dynamics of those attractions. The author does warn of problems when people adhere too strictly to their dominant personality type. Interestingly, the author connects temperaments to the type of love sought. Explorers seek playmates; Builders seek helpmates, or pragmatic love; Directors seek mind-mates, or lovers of ideas; while Negotiators seek a soul mate, one with whom they can connect spiritually.
The author is the first to admit that many factors other than these traits go into finding the right partner. Such bodily characteristics as beauty, shape, height, muscularity, voice, movement, and the like are highly important, as are values and ideals. Conversational abilities and self-confidence are not to be ignored. The author discusses the theory that coupledom involves the idea of completion, or finding in the other the solution to personal shortcomings.
There seems to be the assumption that most of this - assessing personality and characteristics - is fairly straightforward, or at least there is no indication otherwise. One strongly suspects that is not the case. Why do so many of us get it wrong in mate selection. The author speaks of proximity, such as the workplace, as being conducive to finding mates, which certainly gives longish times to assess compatibility. But for many there are not such opportunities. To be a successful player in the mating game seems to require sufficient maturity, experience, and knowledge of much of what the author discusses which can be brought to bear rather quickly and competently for the opportunity at hand - not so easy one would think.
The book is interesting and easily read. It does tend to be a bit redundant. Thankfully, it tends to be general and does not force the reader to be involved with endless examples of couples. It is a most credible effort in attempting to understand what makes for good relationships. In addition, the author provides a fairly short personality test to determine one's relative tendencies towards being an Explorer, Builder, Director, or Negotiator.