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Personal Intelligence: The Power of Personality and How It Shapes Our Lives Hardcover – Import, 18 Feb 2014
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“Mayer fills his book with ingenious studies of how people judge others . . . [and] 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
“Innovative . . . Mayer's new theory of personal intelligence is a welcome starting point for analyzing 'how people think about themselves and one another.'” ―Publishers Weekly
“It's always exciting when an original psychological theory comes along, offering new perspectives on identity. In a crowded world where much depends on social interaction, such tools are irresistible…Mayer shines when recounting the history of psychology--colorfully detailing crucial studies, milestones, and observations.” ―Spirituality & Health
“Mayer's book is a deep and intriguing read into how our personalities evolve from infancy to adulthood . . . Mayer's insights challenge us to broaden our understanding of what it means to be successful in our society. They underscore the importance of personality--how we learn to know ourselves and how we act on that understanding.” ―Psychology Today
“I find Mayer's optimism heartening and his theory convincing: Strengthening personal intelligence could certainly improve communication and understanding in professional and personal relationships . . . I realized personal intelligence – though I've never called it that before – is key to reading about both fictional characters and real people.” ―Concord Monitor
“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 late Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, and suggesting how people can improve their own personal intelligence.” ―UNH Magazine
“John D. Mayer has done so much to get us to think about human personality in new ways, from his theoretical models to his empirical research on emotional intelligence (on which I have been thrilled to collaborate). With Personal Intelligence, Mayer once again challenges us--arguing that there is a set of skills that may determine what sets successful people apart from those who seem oblivious to the needs and desires of those around them. He is a clear thinker and a beautiful writer, and his arguments compel us to broaden our understanding of what constitutes an intelligent individual.” ―Peter Salovey, president and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology, Yale University
“This lively book vividly illustrates the importance of personality and the judgments we make of one another. John D. Mayer surveys a wide range of classic and up-to-the-minute modern research, along with engaging personal histories, to make a compelling case in support of his innovative theory of personal intelligence.” ―David C. Funder, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, and author of The Personality Puzzle
“John D. Mayer takes us on a comprehensive journey through his theory of personal intelligence. Along the way, he shows just how vital personal intelligence is to understanding ourselves as well as navigating our social world. Making sense of others is an essential skill, and Personal Intelligence shows us how we use it, when we use it, and why it matters.” ―Elaine Fox, director of the Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience and author of Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain
About the Author
John D. Mayer is a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire and a key innovator in intelligence research. He has written more than 125 scientific articles, books, and psychological tests, including the internationally known Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT™). He has lectured around the world and has appeared on NPR and BBC-TV. His work has been covered in The New York Times, Time, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. He lives in New Hampshire.
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In this book Mayer argues that there is another intelligence known which he describes personal intelligence which enables people to analyse both their own and other people’s personalities.
Mayer begins by noting that the first obstacle to proving the existence of personal intelligence is the widespread belief among academic psychologists that personality is an illusion does not matter. Instead of personality it was argued that people adjust how they act in different situations and what was important in determining a person’s behaviour was the social influences. This became known as the situationist perspective and was widely accepted following the publication in 1968 of Personality and Assessment by Walter Mischel, famous for the Marshmallow Study. The support for this argument was a variety of studies that purportedly demonstrated personality had little effect on a person’s behaviour. The problem was that subsequent studies concluded the same result with social influences!
In 2007 Mayer began to develop a theory of personal intelligence. Mayer first defines “intelligence” as “a group of related activities that are invoked (1) when the problems involved are valued; (2) only some people can solve them and, (3) the ability to do so leads to specific accomplishments.” In his book he then provides an excellent summary of the development of intelligence modelling and testing beginning with Binet in 1905. The first IQ tests evaluated verbal intelligence but in 1939 David Wechsler developed his perceptual intelligence tests. The high correlation between the two tests provided support for a general intelligence factor g and a measure of that in an IQ score.
Howard Gardiner in the early 1980s then proposed his theory of multiple intelligences which became widely accepted particularly by educationalists even though empirical support was lacking. Gardiner’s model was the driver for concept of Emotional Intelligence but Mayer is the first to admit that EQ concept, which is about feelings, was wrongly extended into discussions about character. Instead Mayer argues that there is a ‘personal’ intelligence which allows people to analyse the personalities of themselves and others. He and colleagues have gone on to develop TOPI or the Test of Personal Intelligence. Again it suffers from the basic paradox as the MSCEIT. Although promoted as an ability test, the MSCEIT is unlike standard IQ tests in that its items do not have objectively correct responses. Among other challenges, the consensus scoring criterion means that it is impossible to create items (questions) that only a minority of respondents can solve, because, by definition, responses are deemed emotionally "intelligent" only if the majority of the sample has endorsed them.
Mayer then argues for the existence of Personal Intelligence throughout the book with a series of case studies. The range of studies is very interesting and quite staggering but comes across as several reviewers have noted as fragmented. Also in many of the examples I kept thinking that they did not demonstrate Personal Intelligence but General Intelligence.
My real problem with the book is that it makes no mention of temperament – what are the core emotions in your personality that you are genetically born with. Based on a study of 11,000 identical twins nature is around twice as important as nurture in the development of personality. I have found the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament model of seven core emotions the most practical tool for people to use. (The five most common Humm components correspond with the Five Factor Model.) For example you can take a demo version of the TOPI test here. If you are familiar with the Humm the TOPI test is very easy to answer.
If you want to learn about the Humm download a free white paper on using Emotional Intelligence in either selling or management . http://www.emotionalintelligencecourse.com/eq-free-white-papers/
My e-books available in Kindle format explain the technique in more detail.