I was devastated to read, in the latest Atlantic, that one of my favorite female writers, Sandra Tsing Loh, is divorcing. In an excellent summary of several books she reads while reflecting on the topic, she includes this description of a new one by Helen Fisher.
Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type'>Why Him? Why Her? explains the hormonal forces that trigger humans to be romantically attracted to some people and not to others (a phenomenon also documented in the animal world). Fisher posits that each of us gets dosed in the womb with different levels of hormones that impel us toward one of four basic personality types:
The Explorer—the libidinous, creative adventurer who acts “on the spur of the moment.” Operative neurochemical: dopamine.
The Builder—the much calmer person who has “traditional values.” The Builder also “would rather have loyal friends than interesting friends,” enjoys routines, and places a high priority on taking care of his or her possessions. Operative neurotransmitter: serotonin.
The Director—the “analytical and logical” thinker who enjoys a good argument. The Director wants to discover all the features of his or her new camera or computer. Operative hormone: testosterone.
The Negotiator—the touchy-feely communicator who imagines “both wonderful and horrible things happening” to him- or herself. Operative hormone: estrogen, then oxytocin.
Fisher reviewed personality data from 39,913 members of Chemistry.com. Explorers made up 26 percent of the sample, Builders 28.6 percent, Directors 16.3 percent, Negotiators 29.1 percent. While Explorers tend to be attracted to Explorers, and Builders tend to be attracted to Builders, Directors are attracted to Negotiators, and vice versa.
Although I love nothing more than cracking out the manuals to discover every feature of my new gadgets (and lord knows, I have a lot of testosterone) I think I’m more of a Builder than a Director, the only other item on this list that seems to fit me. I don’t go through friends quickly enough to say that I value “interesting” over “loyal”. I mean, some of my best friends are people you probably think are pretty boring.
What do you think? Which are you?