Personal Intelligence

The Power of Personality and How It Shapes Our Lives

by John Mayer

Number of pages: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BBB Library: Personal Success

ISBN: 9780374230852

About the Author

He’s a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire and a key innovator in intelligence research.


Editorial Review

Today, many psychologists are developing new accounts of how personality works based on the rapid accumulation of findings of the field, namely, the theory of a new human intelligence – a mental capacity that we use to guide our lives – to reason about ourselves and other people. This ability to draw out information about personality and to reason about it is “personal intelligence”.

Book Reviews

"Mayer’s new theory of personal intelligence is a welcome starting point for analyzing “how people think about themselves and one another.”" Publishers Weekly

"Mayer confines himself to invariably stimulating insights backed by solid scientific research, so readers looking to understand the human condition will certainly enjoy this book." Kirkus Reviews

"Mayer makes his case for personal intelligence by synthesizing decades of scholarship, supporting it with examples of high achievers from Ludwig van Beethoven to the lateWashington Postowner Katharine Graham, and suggesting how people can improve their own personal intelligence." UNH Magazine

"InPersonal Intelligence, Mayer explains that we are naturally curious about the motivations and inner worlds of the people we interact with every day." macmillan Publishers

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Wisdom to Share

Social Scientists now believe that our ability to understand people began to develop half a million years ago as human beings adapted to life in ever-larger social groups.

Our ancestors who were successful readers of personality were more likely to survive and reproduce, passing down the genetic bases for this problem-solving potential to their descendants.

To identify a specific type of intelligence, researchers carefully analyze what human beings do in a given setting and then try to identify the abilities that have characteristics in common.

People in the ancient world, from its philosophers to its storytellers, already used personal intelligence to aid society by guiding people in their social relations and rules to live by.

We sometimes use our personal intelligence as a tool to understand the relationships we form with the broader society in which we live.

All of personality’s processes emerge from a functioning brain, and so we are inextricably bound with keeping our brains and bodies healthy, and the brains and bodies, in turn, perform sufficiently for our personalities to operate.

Personal intelligence is likely to be expressed in both slow- and accelerated-development homes, but in different ways.

But they may also be willing to gamble that they can achieve greater long-term security for themselves by investing in the future.

People high in personal intelligence recognize the basics of setting reasonable goals for themselves, they are better able to allocate their energies in useful directions rather than becoming unnecessarily tied up in knots over aims they can’t meet.

Personal intelligence tells how to look within and what to trust under what conditions – and what remains unknowable about us, at least for today.