I had a choice of six talks to go to at The Simmons Leadership Conference last week and I picked Dr. Helen Fisher’s, “The Female Mind: The Biology of Leadership.” Dr. Fisher is a Biological Anthropologist. Doesn’t that pique your interest?
Dr. Fisher has written 5 books on the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, gender differences in the brain and how your personality type shapes who you are and who you love. She also is the “Chief Scientific Advisor” to the Internet dating site Match.com. She is referred to as “The Love Doctor” over at Rutgers where she teaches.
When I heard that she was scientifically advising Match.com, I came home and started googling Dr. Fisher. I really wanted to understand how dating and science could be co-mingled. I found this great video called Dr. Helen Fisher: 4 Personality Types in Men.
Dr. Fisher talked about personality types and how figuring out which type you are informs the partner best suited for you. She called these personality traits our temperaments, and it was eye opening and confirming to the audience to see which category we see ourselves and our partner’s fitting into.
She talked about 4 brain systems that are linked to personality (not intelligence, but temperament):
1. Estrogen (pro-social/empathetic) “The Negotiator” – sees big picture, great verbal skills, imaginative, and great people skills. These men often choose Testosterone types to be attracted to.
2. Testosterone (analytical/tough minded) “The Director” — analytical, logical, direct, decisive, tough minded, good at math, computers, mechanics. These men go for their opposite- such as the high Estrogen type who is more big picture.
3. Serotonin (cautious/social norm compliant) “The Builders” — orderly, respect authority, traditional, conventional, conscientious, cautious, and social. These men go for women like themselves who are also traditional.
4. Dopamine (curious/energetic) “The Explorers” — risk taking, novelty seeking, optimistic, restless, spontaneously generous, creative, quite liberal and flexible. These men gravitate to women who are just like them, they want women who are also Explorers.
The above describes the “chemistry” of personality; not nurture- but the “nature” of our biological temperament. She developed a questionnaire for Chemistry.com (a division of Match.com) and got 39,000 responses – a statistically significant study, as my statistics teacher would say. The goal of the study was to help people determine what category they fell into as a means to match them best with a romantic partner.
She said that the biggest take away of her study proved that the myth — all men are alike — is not in fact true-AND, all men want to be needed by a woman no matter what their personality type. Fisher’s takeaways shake up some of our belief systems about men. My first stop from the Fisher study was to focus on personality traits to see if I picked the “right partner” in both of my marriages. I loved what I discovered and PS (Yes indeed I did well with both my picks).
As Dr. Fisher moved through her presentation, it was clear to me which brain system defined me. The woman sitting next to me was struck by how she clearly fell into a different brain system.
Let me say, listening to Dr. Fisher describe “me” was way better than reading my horoscope (which I admit to enjoying as a card carrying Sagittarian). This study was grounded in science and research not just intuition and planet alignment. It was fun to see how different personality traits fit neatly into one of these 4 categories.
At a minimum, whether this is real science or not, it is worth learning about as it makes for great dinner party conversation. So did you marry the right partner?
If you want to really figure out what “type” you and your husband/partner are then buy her book Why Him? Why Her? and answer the 56 questions in the book that are identical to those on the Chemistry questionnaire.