Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What type are you?

As a middle-aged adult trapped in a young adult’s body, I really like Oprah magazine. Mostly, I like the pop psychology articles (as a neuroscience and psychology major, I feel slightly guilty about that). Anyway, Dr. Fisher keeps coming up in them, so I’ve been wanting to read her book(s) for some time without actually paying for them, so I was psyched the library had a copy Why Him? Why Her? (I had to check of a lot of intellectual sounding books out to compensate for that title. Review of A Language History of the World coming soon!)

This is your typical “Understand-all-human-interactions-with-this-one-simple-theory” pop psychology book. They’re probably like the diets also featured in Oprah magazine - if they actually delivered on their promise, they wouldn’t have to come out with a new one every month. However, Dr. Helen Fisher actually is a researcher, so my hopes were high that I would finally find the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

To give a brief overview: There are four types of people, typified by one type of hormone;



Short Description

Famous Person




George Washington



Lots of joy de vivre

Helen Keller



Stereotypical Female




Stereotypical Male

Albert Einstein

Your chemistry profile determines your personality type, which in turn effects your choice of career, partner, communication style…basically everything.

(You can read more about the types at

Since the book was trying to establish its authority based on neuroscience, I was disappointed by how little neuroscience the book addressed. The role of hormones and neurotransmitters seemed very oversimplified. Hormone levels vary throughout life and situations, interact with each other, exist simultaneously, and can have completely different effects based on which part of the brain or body they act on, it really can’t be as simple as having one hormone profile.

However, despite the oversimplification (which I suppose might be necessary to sell the book), it was a fun and informative read. Helen Fisher is a good writer and her historical anecdotes, study-backed facts, and quotes kept the book interesting.

In case you were wondering, I am a NEGOTIATOR/director. Among many other things I “wrestle with the contradictory feelings of being too eager to please and being tough minded”, “avoid social engagements”, and I’m drawn to people “with unruffled calm and decisiveness, those who are ambitious, and those who can focus on their goals”. Good to know.


  1. There is no hidden meaning behind the last paragraph being white...