We’re back with our Book Club Reviews, and today we’re publishing a review of Sam Gosling’s Snoop – reviewed by Adam Lunt.

"A Fair Read"

This book is for those with an interest in Psychology, Marketing and in particular those interested in Culture, Human behaviour and Personality. If you are an ethnographer or qualitative researcher then this book is likely to be right up your street.

About Sam Gosling

Sam works at the University of Texas in Austin as a Professor. His work is highly regarded and has been supported by The New York Times, Good Morning America and Psychology Today. His Research has also been featured inside Malcolm Gladwell’s highly acclaimed book ‘Blink’. He’s received many accolades, along with his PhD he has the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution.

Outline Of Book

Outline of the book

For over 10 years, Sam Gosling has been studying the lives and delving deeper into who we are and how we deliberately (or subconsciously) portray ourselves to the outside world. Using research and observation to help sharpen our perception of others, this books helps us to better understand how to observe others and what we see. Sam also illustrates how the possessions we have and our actions both inadvertently have the ability to reveal more about ourselves and our personalities.

Key Findings

Big Five Personality Traits

With an appealing cover design, a large premise of the book is based around the ‘Big Five’ Personality Traits – OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness & Neuroticism) and, although the above sections were quite interesting, my problem with the book is that, whilst it attempts to show people how subtle attitudinal and behavioural traits can be used to deep gain insights into someone, it also says that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding people and context is everything as some traits can be manipulated to what we want others to see.

With his own original research and a wealth of fascinating stories, Snoop is a captivating guide to our not-so-secret selves, and reveals how intensely connected we are to the places in which we live at home and in the workplace. It also highlights how our true motivations are hidden from us, illustrated in his quote:

“Just because something makes sense after the fact doesn’t mean it was obvious all along.”

Whilst there are some clear insights that help us to better understand others, parts of this book were just a little bit too obvious for me – ‘Pop psych 101’. For example, where it describes how people will say something because that’s how they want others to see them. For example, people may say they’re very punctual in a job interview but when they get the job they’re late every day, or that they may say they love classical music but when you’re at their house they don’t own a single CD of said genre , Clearly we as researchers are constantly seeing this discrepancy on a daily basis.

Self-Verification Theory

Arguably, the most interesting part of the book is the chapter and section about ‘Self-Verification Theory’. This details how people can project an image of themselves which reflects how they see themselves (rather than how they want others to see them).

Ultimately, while I have no doubt that people will be able to pick up some behavioural traits from someone’s desk or music taste, this book just stated the obvious and used examples that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule in order to highlight findings from his own research. One of the things I got from the book is that, some people often exaggerate their traits and others will fabricate their traits based on how they want others to see them.

Conclusion Of Snoop

As mentioned at the start of the review, this isn’t an area of particular interest for me, so I may be being a touch on the critical side! However, if you like trying to uncover the real person and their unconscious behaviours, then you may well find it a pretty interesting and insight read.

If you have an interest in human behavioural psychology, then this should be a pretty interesting read for you. Unfortunately, it isn’t really a particular area of interest for me.

If you want to know where to focus, then I would suggest you focus on chapters 6 & 7 which talks about ‘Impressions Management’, ‘Self-Verification Theory’, ‘Stereotypes’ and the three categories of how people can attempt to portray an untrue image of themselves.

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