The bookworm

The bookworm
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
“Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You”
by Sam Gosling
c.2008, Basic Books $25
You have a new neighbor and while you haven’t met him, you already know a little about him.
He has children, evident by kid accoutrements that litter his space. He drives a snazzy sports car and he’s a snappy dresser, so he’s got bucks. On the other hand, his area is a mess and he doesn’t seem eager to fix that. What kind of guy is this new neighbor of yours, anyhow?
In the new book “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” you’ll learn how to interpret the clues the new guy leaves for you. Get inside his space, see what he likes, look at the possessions he displays and you’ll learn even more.
Throughout history, scientists have studied differences in personality; even ancient Romans had a chronicler of such things. In recent times, there have been several kinds of personality tests. One, The Big Five looks at openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Although you think you know what each of them entails, the behaviors of these traits may surprise you.
Okay, you’re saying. That’s great, but you can’t give a personality test to everybody you meet, know or might hire. Couldn’t you learn about someone just as easily through casual cocktail parties, interviews or water cooler chit-chat? Maybe.
Studies indicate that the number-one topic in most “getting-to-know-you” conversations is music. Stick to that and you might glean something.
Bathroom and bedroom snooping can tell you a lot, but since that’s not possible when you’re at work, take a look at your target’s personal and office bric-a-brac, but don’t assume anything.
An odd or seemingly significant object may be a sentimental tchotchke, an office joke, a left-behind item, or it may signify something the person wants to believe about him- or herself.
Personal emails can certainly be telling. If you’re astute, you may be able to ascertain personality by watching someone walk or by closely observing the words he uses when he speaks or writes.
So what about you? Is it possible to throw snoopers off by faking a certain ambience in your office or car? Gosling says it’d be difficult. Your ingrained personality traits will betray you more than not.
I liked this book. Gosling looks at how our things and our habits broadcast who we are or who we think we are, why we keep the things we keep, and how others perceive us by virtue of our created surroundings and our possessions.
There’s a lot to digest, including charts and tests that will take time to understand. But if you want to size up people quickly, “Snoop” is a book to poke around in.

Categories: Legacy Archive