Personal Intelligence: The Power of Personality and How It Shapes Our Lives

John D. Mayer. FSG/Scientific American, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-23085-2
Personality is not merely the sum of an individual’s characteristics, it is a profound social force that influences our lives and interactions. Mayer, a contributor to the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, coined the term “personal intelligence” in order to describe our inherent need to understand the people around us. Personal intelligence includes a spectrum of proficiencies, and there is a degree to which it can be learned and cultivated. Any apt assessment of others begins, or at least is correlated with, an ability to know one’s self, and Mayer explores patterns of personal intelligence from adolescence to adulthood. He draws on anecdotes and research—some of it his own—and also describes his methods of testing and measuring what psychologists have long deemed immeasurable. As he attempts to define the parameters of “personality,” Mayer is prone to expanding the idea into ambiguous territory. But what is innovative here is his focus on personality as a social skill, an interaction between self and environment that manifests not just through interpersonal relationships but across our collective society, including our legal system. Mayer’s new theory of personal intelligence is a welcome starting point for analyzing “how people think about themselves and one another.” (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/11/2013
Release date: 02/18/2014
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-374-70899-3
Paperback - 282 pages - 978-0-374-53501-8
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