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Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type [Hardcover]

Helen Fisher
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 20 2009

A groundbreaking book about how your personality type determines who you love

Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another? In this fascinating and informative book, Helen Fisher, one of the world’s leading experts on romantic love, unlocks the hidden code of desire and attachment. Each of us, it turns out, primarily expresses one of four broad personality types—Explorer, Builder, Director, or Negotiator—and each of these types is governed by different chemical systems in the brain. Driven by this biology, we are attracted to partners who both mirror and complement our own personality type.

Until now the search for love has been blind, but Fisher pulls back the curtain and reveals how we unconsciously go about finding the right match. Drawing on her unique study of 40,000 men and women, she explores each personality type in detail and shows you how to identify your own type. Then she explains why some types match up well, whereas others are problematic. (Note to Explorers: be prepared for a wild ride when you hitch your star to a fellow Explorer!) Ultimately, Fisher’s investigation into the complex nature of romance and attachment leads to astonishing new insights into the essence of dating, love, and marriage.

Based on entirely new research—including a detailed questionnaire completed by seven million people in thirty-three countries—Why Him? Why Her? will change your understanding of why you love him (or her) and help you use nature’s chemistry to find and keep your life partner.

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Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type + Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love + Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray
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Praise for Helen Fisher:

"Fascinating…. An original and uniquely contemporary approach to a sensation that, for millennia, has been considered purely emotional." —The Washington Post on Why We Love

"A thesis with startling ramifications." —The New York Times Book Review on Why We Love

"Delightful to read, offering an abundance of fascinating facts." —The New York Times on Anatomy of Love

About the Author

Helen Fisher, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading experts on the nature of romantic love and attachment, is the chief scientific adviser to Chemistry.com, a division of Match.com. She is the author of four previous books, two of which—The First Sex and The Anatomy of Love—were New York Times Notable Books. A research professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, she lives in New York City.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it July 27 2013
By Paula
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book was very interesting and quite easy to understand and it does make sense. There were parts that seemed complicated though. I passed the book on to another person who is liking it also.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars YOU WERE MEANT FOR WHO? Jan. 23 2009
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Isn't there a line in a song that goes something like "Somewhere in heaven you were fashioned for me?" How simple life might be if that were the case. Just sit back, relax, and wait for a celestial force to send that someone along. No more wondering if he or she is the right one, the person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives.

Along comes Helen Fisher to shed some light on this intriguing subject. More than well qualified, she's currently research professor of anthropology at Rutgers, sometimes called the Love Doctor, and formerly a research associate at New York's Museum of Natural History. She's the author of four books, and recognized as an expert on romantic love.

Granted there are some things science cannot explain despite our ever increasing knowledge of the workings of our brains, analyses of personality traits, the effects of testosterone and estrogen, etc. Nonetheless Fisher presents a fascinating concept in Why Him? Why Her?

First of all the author identifies four personality types - the Builder (likes routine and orderliness), the Negotiator ( easily imagines both good and bad things happening), the Director (debates anyone?), and the Explorer (isn't fazed by the unpredictable). Next, the listener is offered 56 questions to help in typing himself or herself.

Now, while the types that are attracted to each other are identified, there's no promise that this is the basis for a lasting relationship. What the book does is offer food for thought re the ever perplexing question of who Mr. Or Miss Right might be.

Ably and authoritatively read by the author.

- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Know Yourself" (Delphic Oracle) Nov. 13 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is amazing how truly this book describes the types of our personalities( Explorer, Builder, Director, Negotiator). While I easily recognized myself in the Negotiator description, it always seemed to me that I had some traits of all the other types. Helen Fisher is right, our brains have something from all the four types, but some characteristics are more prominent than others. As to the partner I am more likely to choose, I think once again Helen Fisher is right, nobody can really understand a Negotiator except for another Negotiator, but they still tend to choose someone who doesn't understand them. I guess Negotiators are some kind of masochists :)) I'm surprised at Helen Fisher's knowledge of a wide variety of literature. She is very creative for an anthropologist too:)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  85 reviews
76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why do relationships work? Feb. 27 2009
By J. Grattan - Published on Amazon.com
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.
55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From a happily married 54 year old man...So why did I buy this book? Feb. 26 2009
By claude whitacre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I decided to buy the book after seeing Helen Fisher on the Colbert Report. She handled herself well, and gave several intelligent teases to create desire for the book.I'm married, very happily, and thought the book would have some transferable ideas to marketing (my vocation).

Other reviews cover the material in the book.

Let me say first that the backbone of her research has been done before. There are 4 personality types. They have been called many things by different authors. The reason I don't mind that is that the author acknowledges the fact, and provides the source material. She then ties the personality types with brain chemistry, and does it convincingly. I haven't seen that before.

Sure, she mentions her work with two online dating services. But it's part of the story, and to omit that would cheat the reader. Any author worth their salt would mention the work they have done in the past. In fact, her work for these companies is the basis of much of her research.

She includes quotations from philosophers, businesspeople, even Einstein.
These quotations add to the reading by showing what type(personality type, that is) of person thinks in what way.

She includes personal stories that, if they were missing, would make this a harder read.

Some of what she says has been covered before...but there isn't a book written that covers JUST new material. The way I see it, for $20 you got a few hours of intelligent introspection into what makes you the way you are...how others perceive you...and what others will be attracted (and repelled) in you. Certainly worth the price.

By the way, I'm 100% Director, married to a near 100% Negotiator. According to the book, we're a perfect match. And we are.

added 3/04/09 I noticed that most of the bad reviews are for the CD. I read the book. It must be a different experience.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Book on Love and Attraction July 25 2009
By Avid Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Fisher served as a consultant for the dating site Chemistry.c0m before it launched in February 2006. She helped to build the site by designing a questionnaire for singles and devising a "scientific" system through which these singles are classified and matched based on their responses to the questionnaire. In Why Him Why Her, Fisher talks about the principles behind this matching system, which I will briefly explain here:

The questionnaire is used to determine how closely a person conforms to each of four personality types: (1) Explorer (2) Builder (3) Director (4) Negotiator. A person has a primary personality type and a secondary personality type. For example, a person may be foremost a Director (her primary personality type) and then a Builder (her secondary personality type).

Some traits that stand out for:
(1) an Explorer: risk taker, enthusiastic, curious, spontaneous, impulsive, susceptible to boredom, etc.
(2) a Builder: cautious, loyal, traditional, orderly, predictable, tenacious, meticulous planner, etc.
(3) a Director: bold, direct, logical, analytical, exacting, focused, etc.
(4) a Negotiator: imaginative, intuitive, harmony-loving, empathetic, etc.

Explorers tend to seek Explorers, Builders tend to seek Builders, Directors tend to seek Negotiators, and Negotiators tend to seek Directors. In light of this, the question of whether attraction is based on similarity (like attract like) or complementarity (opposites attract) becomes moot. According to Fisher, if you're an Explorer or a Builder, you're attracted to a someone just like yourself; if you're a Director or a Negotiator, you're attracted to someone who is unlike (or who complements) you.

Fisher also explains the bio-chemistry behind each personality type. (1) An explorer has higher levels of Dopamine and Norepinephrine (2) A Builder has higher levels of Serotonin (3) A Director has higher levels of Testosterone (4) A Negotiator has higher levels of Estrogen and Oxytocin.

A little tidbit which is of particular interest to me is that many Directors (many of whom are in positions of power) have significantly longer ring fingers than index fingers - an indicator of high levels of testosterone!

Why Him Why Her is superbly narrated by the author herself. Her enthusiasm and conviction for her own work on personality types and principles of compatibility clearly shows through her remarkably energetic and engaging narration. I enjoyed the book so much that I actually listened to it from start to end for 12 hours straight!

I definitely don't subscribe lock, stock, and barrel to Fisher's view on the chemistry and science of attraction. I tend to view any formulaic approach to matchmaking with a generous dose of skepticism. Regardless, Fisher has helped me gain some very valuable insight into myself and the selection of my ideal mate. I can't guarantee that this book will do the same for you, but in any case, I think this book will be a very interesting and worthwhile read.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychology? Definitely. Chemistry? Not so sure. Jan. 29 2009
By Carol C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Interesting stuff -- Fisher, an anthropologist and the brains behind internet dating site chemistry.com, posits that there are four basic temperaments, or personality types -- Explorers, Builders, Directors & Negotiaters. Each of us has some combination of all four. Our dominant temperament or temperaments dictate what kind of mate we will be most happy with. So far, so good -- our personalities determine whom we are most compatible with. What makes Fisher's theory unique is her explanation that our personalities are determined largely by our biology/chemistry, and whatever chemistry you're born with determines essentially who you are.

Explorers are curious; they like adventure, travel, spontaneity, change, activity. They are guided by "dopamine activity." I'm pretty sure that dopamine is a neurotransmitter but I don't know what "dopamine activity" is -- do explorers have more dopamine than the rest of us?

Builders are loyal; they like family, honesty, trustworthiness, stability -- they are guided by seratonin.

Directors are the mathy, nerdy types, logical and analytical, intellectual, fond of intelligent conversation. They are guided by --and this is a little hard for a girl nerd like to me to swallow -- testosterone.

Negotiaters are the nice ones, the people-pleasers, sympathetic, kind, accommodating, caretakers -- they're guided by estrogen.

At first glance, Fisher's research seems legitimate, as it is based on thousands and thousands of persons who have taken on-line surveys. I don't doubt that those surveys validate the four basic personality types, and the fact that folks tend to behave and make choices consistent with their type. Still, that doesn't explain the "chemistry."

High school chemistry was a long long time ago for me, and I did't really understand it even then, but the chemistry in this makes even less sense to me. If our personalities are determined by dopamine, seratonin, testosterone & estrogen, and to a lesser extent norephedrine and oxytocin -- then wouldn't things like Prozac (or other drugs that affect seratonin levels) or estrogen replacement therapy significantly impact our personalities? And more importantly, how does Fisher connect the personality types with the underlying biochemistry? Last time I checked, no one required a blood test or checked the neurotransmitter levels of folks joining match.com.

Chemistry aside, knowing that there are these four basic temperaments -- do opposites attract, or do birds of a feather stick together? Both, Fisher says. Explorers and Builders best stick to their own kind (Jets? Sharks?) whereas Negotiaters and Directors are most compatible with their complementary type -- Negotiaters choose directors and vice versa.

There is an element of marketing in this work -- it's essentially one big plug for chemistry.com. Normally, such shameless promotion is a turnoff for me, but in this case, I didn't find it offensive. Fisher is explaining the logic and research behind chemistry.com, and it comes across as genuine and research-based rather than marketing hype. That said, the research certainly doesn't involve any "chemistry" of the sort Fisher makes reference to -- brain chemistry, hormone levels, biology. It's a bit of a stretch to assert that one's "dopamine activity" determines one's personality without making any effort to assess one's dopamine activity.

I haven't made it through all seven CDs yet. The author does a great job of reading her own work, and I enjoying listening, but it's quite a lot to listen to -- I found myself skipping back to listen to certain passages several times to ensure that I understood them. I think I would prefer to have the material in written form, so that I could re-read sections if I wanted to. The author is liberal in her inclusion of poetry and quotes -- and the audio format does bring an unusual emphasis to the poetry and quotes, which is nice.

Overall, though, Fisher presents an interesting theory, the material is well-written and well worth listening to (or better yet, reading).
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another twist on the Jung / Myers-Briggs personality test... March 19 2009
By Dean! - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Disclaimer: I am a VINE reviewer and received this product for free to review.

I have to give this audiobook a "2" because it's nothing new in the world of personality types and is certainly not groundbreaking. The early 1900's psychiatrist Carl Jung, who laid the foundation for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (MBTI) had this figured out long ago.

Also, anyone who has ever attended any corporate leadership training around leadership types or taken the MBTI will see the same concepts repeated throughout this book.

The author (and reader) just chooses different labels for the same concepts Jung / Myers-Briggs developed. The MBTI uses types for different areas of life: Extroversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judgement/Perception. Helen Fisher uses Builders, Directors, Explorers, Negotiators.

She gives examples of real-life scenarios and explains how Explorer/Builder, Director/Negotiators react, but this is no different than figuring out your Personality Type by answering real-life scenario questions as part of the original MBTI test to begin with.

If I can give any advice to the author: Please put a Quick-Reference Card with your audiobook, because although you are a fantastic narrator, your 'new' concepts are hard to follow and listen to if you don't already have each type memorized. Those of us with some background with MBTI get confused with your nomenclature and it's hard to comprehend the rest of the story if we aren't sure what the Director was again, etc.

Overall, this is a pleasant and enjoyable audiobook, but falls short of groundbreaking and reader/listeners should not be misled.
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