Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Looking for Love Formula – Love Types by Helen Fisher

Anthropologist and author Helen Fisher proposed to make the dating process more efficient in her new book, Why Him? Why Her? Based on the through research, she identifies the chemical factors that determine who we find attractive, and creates profiles of four distinct personality types: the Explorer, the Builder, the Director, and the Negotiator.

The Biology of Personality (From the book)

Dopamine. I began with this brain chemical because I had studied the activities of this powerful and ubiquitous neurotransmitter for several years.

On impulse, I listed some of the personality traits I knew were associated with specific genes in the dopamine system: the propensity to seek novelty; the willingness to take risks; spontaneity; heightened energy; curiosity; creativity; optimism; enthusiasm; mental flexibility. I decided to call those men and women who expressed the traits associated with this biology Explorers.

I drew another blank sheet of paper from my desk drawer. What else did I know about personality? Well, individuals who have inherited particular genes in the serotonin system tend to be calm, social, cautious but not fearful, persistent, loyal, fond of rules and facts and orderly. They are conventional, the guardians of tradition. And, because these men and women are also skilled at building social networks and managing people in family, business and social situations, I dubbed those who had inherited this constellation of genetic traits Builders.

I had also studied testosterone. Although testosterone is often associated with males, I knew that both men and women are capable of expressing particularly strong activity in this neural system. Moreover, those who inherit this chemistry tend to be direct, decisive, focused, analytical, logical, tough-minded, exacting, emotionally contained and good at strategic thinking. They get to the point. Many are bold and competitive. They excel at figuring out machines, mathematical formulas or other rule-based systems. Many are good at understanding the structure of music, too. I named these people Directors.

Last in my store of biological knowledge were some of the traits linked with estrogen. Women and men with a great deal of estrogen activity tend to see the big picture: they connect disparate facts to think contextually and holistically, expressing what I call web thinking. They are imaginative. They display superior verbal skills and excel at reading postures, gestures, facial expressions and tones of voice, known as executive social skills. They are also intuitive, sympathetic, nurturing, mentally flexible, agreeable, idealistic, altruistic and emotionally expressive. I christened the people of this broad biological type Negotiators.

Other chemical systems play a role in personality, of course. We may have as many as a hundred different kinds of neurotransmitters (smaller molecules) and some fifty types of peptides in the brain. But most keep the heart beating or orchestrate other basic functions. It is increasingly apparent that these four chemicals—dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen—play lead roles in producing aspects of personality.

Two others should be mentioned, though. Norepinephrine, a chemical closely related to dopamine, undoubtedly contributes to some of the Explorer's traits, especially their energy and impulsivity. And oxytocin—a chemical synthesized, stored and triggered (in large part) by estrogen—most likely plays a role in the Negotiator's compassion, nurturing, trust and intuition. In fact, families of chemicals produce the Explorer, Builder, Director and Negotiator. The specific activities of any one chemical are not as significant as the ratios and interactions among all of them and several other neural systems.

Nevertheless, only dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen have been directly associated with a wide range of personality traits. So, variations in these four chemicals most likely form the foundation of these four basic styles of thinking and behaving.

But does your personality type guide who you love? I decided to find out.

Love Types Overview


Explorers have a very active dopamine system, a brain chemical associated with the tendency to seek novelty, among other qualities. An Explorer might look up from the newspaper on Sunday and say, "Want to go to Warsaw?" -- and by Wednesday you're in Poland. Champions of "never a dull moment," these adventurers live to discover new people, places, things, or ideas, often impulsively. Friends, family, and colleagues frequently regard them as highly independent and autonomous.

Explorers have more energy than most people; they tend to be restless, sometimes fast-paced. And, they are highly curious -- "For always roaming with a hungry heart," as Tennyson put it. Constantly generating new ideas or creative insights, they easily shift their attention from one thing to another. Although the classic Explorer is a race-car driver, South Pole trekker, or bad-boy rocker who lives hard, taking drugs and having risky sex, I know many who exercise their passion for adventure by reading several hours a day; collecting stamps, coins, or antiques; or walking through the byways of a city.

People quickly like most Explorers. Generous and sunny, they tend to be playful, sensual, sometimes hedonistic, often unpredictable, and regularly amusing. But, they can be difficult to take -- especially in a marriage. They do not tolerate boredom well. So, they are generally not interested in routine social or business events. In fact, Explorers try to avoid routine of almost any kind, and can trample on another person's cherished beliefs and habits -- not to mention be impatient.


Calm, affable, and people oriented, the Builder's personality is influenced by the serotonin system. Social situations are often fun and relaxing for Builders; they like to network. Because duty and loyalty are their strong suits, they often acquire a devoted pack of peers and pals. And, they're true guardians when it comes to family and friends.

Builders are cautious -- but not fearful. They think concretely. They have a clear memory of yesterday's mistakes, so they prepare. These people are not impulsive with their money, their actions, or their feelings. Security is important to them. Structure and order are, too. Taking particular pride in upholding social norms, many are traditional, and they often have a strong moral streak. Builders do not get bored easily, which enables them to be methodical, hardworking, and dependable. Thanks to all these solid qualities, they tend to be regarded as pillars of the community.

But Builders can go overboard. In their quest to do things the "proper way," they can be intolerant of other ways. Indeed, they can be stubborn. And with their need for order, rules, and schedules, they can stifle spontaneity. Their stoicism can turn into pessimism, their conformity into rigidity, and their concrete thinking sometimes makes them too literal. Normally, however, Builders are community minded, industrious, and popular with colleagues and companions.


Specific activities in the testosterone system are what distinguishes this type. Again, although we think of the hormone as male, it is shared by both sexes, and there are many full-blooded women Directors. Whatever the gender, people of this type are competitive. They strive to be top dog and have many skills to get there. They are pragmatic, tough-minded, and most notably decisive, able to make up their minds rapidly, even when faced with difficult choices. Rational analysis, logical reasoning, and objectivity are their core strengths. They also pay attention to details and can focus their attention to the exclusion of everything around them -- an ability that enables them to weed out extraneous data and progress on a straightforward path toward a specific goal: the solution. Many Directors are also ingenious, theoretical, and bold in their ideas. Moreover, they are willing to take unpopular, even dangerous paths, to get to the truth. So they persist and often win.

Directors are particularly skilled at understanding machines and other rule-based systems, from computers and math problems to the details of biology, world finance, or architecture. They excel at sports, and often have an acute ear for all kinds of music. Their interests can be narrow; but they pursue them deeply and thoroughly. And they can captivate those who share their hobbies.

Placating leaves the Director cold. He or she often chooses to do a good job rather than please others. In fact, Directors are the least socially skilled of the four types. When preoccupied with work or personal goals, they can appear aloof, distant, even cold, and are generally not interested in making social connections, with the exception of those that are useful or exciting to them.

As with the other types, the traits that make Directors so successful may become grating: For example, their confidence can veer into bragging, their exactitude turn uncompromising, and their forthrightness simply seem rude. And because they often see issues in black and white, they miss the nuances of social, business, and personal situations. But thanks to their dedication, loyalty, and interest in sharing ideas, Directors make close friends. And they can be fiercely protective of those they love.


Negotiators have specific personality traits that have been linked with estrogen. Although estrogen is known as a female sex hormone, men have it, too, and there are plenty of male Negotiators. As the name suggests, this type is superb at handling people. Negotiators instinctively know what others are thinking and feeling. They artfully read facial expressions, postures, gestures, and tone of voice. Their interest in identity extends not only to others, but to themselves. So they are introspective and self-analytical-- men and women who take pleasure in journeying into their thoughts and motives. As a result, when they form a partnership, they like to delve deeply into the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship.

Not only do Negotiators connect psychologically, they also have the ability to remain mentally flexible. When they make decisions, they weigh many variables and consider various ways to proceed; they see things contextually, rather than linearly -- I call it web thinking. As a result, they tend to be comfortable with ambiguity. Negotiators can be highly intuitive and creative. And, they like to theorize. Perhaps their most distinctive characteristic is verbal fluency, the facility for finding the right words rapidly. With this skill -- alongside an agreeable and accommodating nature, compassion, social savvy, and patience -- the Negotiator can be very friendly, diplomatic, and authentic.

But as with all qualities, these traits can warp. Negotiators sometimes become such placators they appear wishy-washy to the point of spinelessness. Because they are not willing to confront, they can turn to backstabbing. With their need to examine all the possibilities, they can get bogged down in rumination as opposed to action. And, in a relationship, their desire to connect and dissect all the subtle meanings between the two of you can become cloying and invasive.

Love Types Self-Test

Read each statement and choose the number that best describes your agreement by the following scale.
0= Strongly Disagree
1= Disagree
2= Agree
3= Strongly Agree
Please note the number choices are ZERO to THREE. Put your choice for each statement in front of the statement. Try to answer as honestly as you can for who you are, not who you want to be.

‐ I find unpredictable situations exhilarating
‐ I do things on the spur of the moment
‐ I get bored when I have to do the same familiar things
‐ I have a very wide range of interests
‐ I am more optimistic than most people
‐ I am more creative than most people
‐ I am always looking for new experiences
‐ I am always doing new things
‐ I am more enthusiastic than most people
‐ I am willing to take risks to do what I want to do
‐ I get restless if I have to stay home for any length of time
‐ My friends would say I am very curious
‐ I have more energy than most people
‐ On my time off, I like to be free to do whatever looks fun

‐ I think consistent routines keep life orderly and relaxing
‐ I consider (and reconsider) every option thoroughly before making a plan
‐ People should behave according to established standards of proper conduct
‐ I enjoy planning way ahead
‐ In general, I think it is important to follow rules
‐ Taking care of my possessions is a high priority for me
‐ My friends and family would say I have traditional values
‐ I tend to be meticulous in my duties
‐ I tend to be cautious, but not fearful
‐ People should behave in ways that are morally correct
‐ It is important to respect authority
‐ I would rather have loyal friends than interesting friends
‐ Long established customs need to be respected and preserved
‐ I like to work in a straightforward parth toward completing the task

‐ I understand complex machines easily
‐ I enjoy competitive conversations
‐ I am intrigued by rules and patterns that govern systems
‐ I am more analytical and logical than most people
‐ I pursue intellectual topics thoroughly and regularly
‐ I am able to solve problems without letting emotion get in the way
‐ I like to figure out how things work
‐ I am tough‐minded
‐ Debating is a good way to match my wits with others
‐ I have no trouble making a choice, even when several alternatives seem equally good at first
‐ When I buy a new machine (like a camera, computer or car), I want to know all of its technical features
‐ I like to avoid the nuances and say exactly what I mean
‐ I think it is important to be direct
‐ When making a decision, I like to stick to the facts rather than be swayed by people’s feelings

‐ I like to get to know my friends’ deepest needs and feelings
‐ I highly value deep emotional intimacy in my relationships
‐ Regardless of what is logical, I generally listen to my heart when making important decisions
‐ I frequently catch myself daydreaming
‐ I can change my mind easily
‐ After watching an emotional film, I often still feel moved by it several hours later
‐ I vividly imagine both wonderful and horrible things happening to me
‐ I am very sensitive to people’s feelings and needs
‐ I often find myself getting lost in my thoughts during the day
‐ I feel emotions more deeply than most people
‐ I have a vivid imagination
‐ When I wake up from a vivid dream, it takes me a few seconds to return to reality
‐ When reading, I enjoy it when the writer takes a sidetrack to say something beautiful or meaningful
‐ I am very empathetic

Calculating results

Total of your answers for Scale 1 and put it at right:
This is how much you have of the Explorer personality type.

Total of your answers for Scale 2 and put it at right:
This is how much you have of the Builder personality type.

Total of your answers for Scale 3 and put it at right:
This is how much you have of the Director personality type.

Total of your answers for Scale 4 and put it at right:
This is how much you have of the Negotiator personality type.

Identify your highest and second highest totals as your “primary” and “secondary” personality types, respectively.

Interpreting Results


Description: Explorers crave adventure and are willing to take risks. Highly curious, creative, energetic, spontaneous, they have many interests—from hiking and spelunking to theater and reading.

Famous examples: John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie.

Under the influence: The Explorer's behavior is largely affected by the brain chemical dopamine, which is a key player in our experience of pleasure and novelty.

Longs for: A playmate.

Bonds well with: Other Explorers.

If you are an Explorer: My advice is to go slowly. Because you are so impulsive, you can get romantically involved too fast. Moreover, because you hate confrontation, you risk bolting from a relationship that could prove fantastic. If you find someone you are genuinely interested in, check your inclination to go out with others, and focus your energy on him or her.

If you are dating one: Be prepared to live this romance one day at a time. Remain flexible, and know that for your partner, "dullness is a misdemeanor," as novelist Ethel Wilson astutely put it.


Description: Typically conventional, these women and men are honorable and loyal; cautious without being afraid; calm; social; popular; and good at managing people, networking, and building family and community. Drawn to schedules and rules, they are also detail oriented, thorough, conscientious, and dependable.

Famous examples: George Washington, Colin Powell, Tiger Woods, Jennifer Aniston, Queen Elizabeth.

Under the influence: The defining neurochemical in Builders is serotonin, which modulates moods like aggression, anger, and calm.

Longs for: A helpmate.

Bonds well with: Other Builders.

If you are a Builder: Don't let your taste for plans and schedules get in the way of trying new things on a date, unless you are going out with another Builder. Brag a little (Builders can be too modest) and, despite your love of socializing with the gang, take some time to be alone with your romantic interest. Your tendency to be protective will be appreciated, but make sure you do not appear controlling.

If you are dating one: Remember that Builders like to be concrete and to revel in the details. They are attracted to others who are orderly and calm so when you make plans, stick to them. According to the research, Builders are the most likely to seek a lifelong partner.


Description: "One ought to hold on to one's heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head, too." So wrote Nietzsche, and if you are a Director, you will relate. Directors are analytical and logical, straightforward, decisive, tough minded, focused, and good at rule-based and spatial skills like mechanics, math, and music. They also tend to be ambitious and competitive, as well as emotionally contained, even aloof. Yet these are the men and women who rush into a burning building to save a stranger.

Famous examples: Albert Einstein, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher.

Under the influence: Testosterone (we think of it as the male sex hormone, but women have it too) is especially active in shaping the Director's personality.

Longs for: A mind mate.

Bonds well with: Negotiators.

If you are a Director: You like to be in control and tend to date with determination, but if you can be patient and let things unfold naturally, it will help you avoid scaring off possible romance. And, while you may regard expressing your emotions as a weakness, the other person is likely to take your restraint as a sign that you are cold, secretive, or uninterested. So share your feelings.

If you are dating one: Remember that he or she will respond best if you are logical, accurate, and clear. Do not criticize yourself (many Directors regard this as pathetic), and if you want to intrigue your partner, pursue topics of substance rather than small talk.


Description: Negotiators are imaginative, intuitive, empathetic, and emotionally expressive, and have good verbal and social skills. Most strikingly, these people see the big picture with all the options.

Famous examples: Bill Clinton, Gandhi, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw.

Under the influence: Estrogen (the so-called female sex hormone, though, again, it is found in both genders) plays an important role in the Negotiator's character.

Longs for: A soul mate.

Bonds well with: Directors (no wonder Hillary and Bill are still together).

If you are a Negotiator: Watch out for your inclination to be so diplomatic that you appear spineless. And, avoid drowning your date in a verbal deluge. If you have met someone you like, do not overthink the situation, endlessly going over the pros and cons. Ultimately, it's important for you not to settle for anything but a deeply meaningful, authentic relationship.

If you are dating one: Keep in mind that Negotiators are not always direct, so read between the lines. Avoid being competitive with them. And, don't hesitate to talk about yourself: These people love hearing about what you're thinking and feeling. Above all, they will fall for you if you stimulate their imagination.

What personality types make a bad match?

There is no really bad match, as long as you continue to think this person is the greatest thing on earth. You can sustain any kind of relationship, but I do think that some personality matches are going to have specific kinds of problems.

Two Explorers are never going to have a fight over how you mop the floor because they are both enormously flexible. Two Builders will create a marriage that will last 50 years, but they will bicker over the way you mop the floor because each one has the right way of doing something. Two Explorers are not going to have that. They will say, "Well, we'll eat it anyway you like."

The oddest match would be two Directors. They are both workaholics so they will not spend a lot of time with each other and neither has good people skills. But, as long as they continue to think "this person is the cat's meow," they'll be able to sustain the relationship.

Sources and Additional Information:

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