In his new book, “Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality,” UCSF psychiatrist Samuel Barondes proposes a science-based, systematic method for understanding human motivation and personality patterns.

Samuel Barondes, director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

  • Sara R.

    Can you cure someone who is a narcisist or sociopath?  If not, why not?

    • Gigi

      Hi Sara,
      I also was wondering about this, but recall in the interview Dr. Barondes advising this is very difficult/impossible and recommending instead that the best course of action is avoidance, and if that’s not possible or desirable, identify the issue and develop coping strategies to deal with the behavior.

  • Sarah

    Can you repeat the link to the online personality test?

  • MelFC

    How about open-mindedness? Being open or closed to new ideas seems a fundamental difference in personality and a crucial difference between the liberal and conservative poles.. 

  • guest

    I can’t find the link, either. I think the idea is to purchase the book to obtain it.

  • Cristina McClelland

    I disagree with the doctor’s conclusion about why there are natural variants in personality.  I believe there are differnces in people because we are a social species who are interdependent- similar to ants or bees.  Our species as a whole is more successful when we have both “big picture” idea generators, and detail oriented individuals.  Having both introverted and extroverted people in every society is adventageous at any time in history.  We all have a role to play and every personality has value. 

    • Cristina McClelland

      The doctor stated that different eras of history, such as times of plenty and safety vs. time of scarcity and danger would reward bold vs. wary personality traits respectively.  My point was that BOTH types of people would help a society as a whole during  ANY era.  Interesting show today.  Have you done a show discussing the “Enneagram” (9 personality types)?

    • Carl

      I believe that makes you in agreement with what the doctor said.

  • Sarah

    Can one be a narcissist, but also have a very poor opinion of oneself? (i.e. have low self-esteem?)

  • joe

    can a significant cause of addiction be caused by the desire to be different from who you really are?  

  • Cora

    What does Mr. Barondes think of the enneagram and personality?

  • Kristin

    Is this the test referred to in the show?  This page is maintained by Dr. Tom Buchanan ( ), Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, UK, ), Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, UK,

  • Yaggr

    Where is the link to the on-line personality test?

    • It’s at the top of the page, just beneath the program description.

  • lindamat2001ca

    A fascinating program, but I only caught the last 20 minutes.  When will it be available on line?  Where will we be able to find the website the author mentioned with the testing?  Thanks!

  • Psychlopedia
  • Mappleton

    Did anyone catch all 5 traits? Got 1) introvert/extrovert, 2) open/closed, 3) narcisist/(what is the other side of this one), 4) concientious/(what was the other side of this one?), 5?

    • Cindi

      You can click the link above, as I did, and after taking the test see your own traits.  They are (from the test results): extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

  • Gabrielle

    I just took the test – dead on results. The link is above for those asking “Big Five Personality” or try it here:

  • Aaron

    This seems like a solid summary of the Five Factor Model –

  • Gigi

    I just took the Big Five personality test (link above), the assessment results were right-on for me too!  And I appreciate that this test concisely describes character traits which, prior to reading the assessment results, I really had no words to accurately identify.

    As regards the 5 traits mentioned by the author in his interview today, they indeed correspond with those outlined per the Wikipedia url mentioned via Aaron Rosenthal’s comment below — these are:
    Openness – (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)Conscientiousness – (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)Extraversion – (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)Agreeableness – (friendly/compassionate vs. cold/unkind)Neuroticism – (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident)


    • Janethsm1999

      What is the web again

  • Tom R

    Michael, I look forward to shows from you on this subject and have yet to walk away from one feeling very satisfied. Invariably there are comments, (as there were today) that indicate a superficial understanding of the role Carl Jung has played in the seminal understanding of personality and temperament. Given the richness of the possibilities here in the Bay Area this is puzzling. Do you know there is an organization called the Bay Area Association of
    Psychological Type, that meets once a month and hears lectures on these
    very topics, in Menlo Park? What about the San Francisco Jung Institute?
    Have you ever met or heard of  Dr. John Beebe – a Stanford educated MD,
    former President of the SFJung Institute and a practicing Psychiatrist
    in San Francisco? His lectures on Jungian Theory, especially those
    involving Type are exquisite.In addition to Jung’s Theory of Type, there is a long list of various attempts to categorize personality. Myers Briggs is a a quite famous one, albeit with some attached issues, (that merit discussion). David Kiersey’s Temperament theory is another. Linda Beren’s has written on her version called Interaction Styles. There’s something called Gray-Wheelwright which is somewhat similar to the MBTI and is used by therapists in lieu of it, to get at indications of temperamental preferences.  Indeed, there are many others. My understanding of Dr. Baronides, work, must by virtue of this brief radio show be superficial, yet I wonder why so little credit is given to the original thinkers, and their previous work, which his work seems to build on. Do we really need another set of names to identify aspects of personality? Dr. Baronides made the point a couple of times the goal is to understand what our preferences are and this can lead to a more happy, satisfied life experience. But he also claimed that these preferences are more or less immutable by the age of 35. This I respectfully suggest is a somewhat controversial assumption. The goal, at least in the world of Jungian trained folks Ive encountered, is to first understand what preferences are, then discover which do we possess, (at the moment),  and finally, how do we move to some experience of the “other” so that we become better adjusted, wiser human beings. What would it take to get Dr. Beebe or someone from the Jung Institute to be on your show?

  • Brittany Burrows

    This was a really fascinating show and I really enjoyed hearing Dr. Barondes’ take on personality and the stability of the “big five” traits over our lifetime.

    I have my PhD in neuroscience and am involved in developing a new social utility that’s aimed at helping people learn more about their personality traits, and how one’s own view of oneself compares to how others view them. Further, we also offer our users the opportunity to compare their own unique personalities to those of their peers and get actionable advice on how to interact with people better. If you’re interested in giving it a try, you can find us at:

    We welcome any feedback you have at 

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