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Do the things on your desk betray the thoughts on your mind? Does your dining room décor carry clues to your character? Award-winning psychologist Sam Gosling has dispatched teams of scientific investigators to poke around bedrooms and offices, check out iPods, and peek at personal websites—to see what can be learned about us simply from looking at our belongings. What he Do the things on your desk betray the thoughts on your mind? Does your dining room décor carry clues to your character? Award-winning psychologist Sam Gosling has dispatched teams of scientific investigators to poke around bedrooms and offices, check out iPods, and peek at personal websites—to see what can be learned about us simply from looking at our belongings. What he has discovered is intriguing: When it comes to the most essential components of our personality—from friendliness and flexibility to openness and originality—the things we own and the way we arrange them can say more about who we are than even our most intimate conversations.Packed with 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 and work.


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Do the things on your desk betray the thoughts on your mind? Does your dining room décor carry clues to your character? Award-winning psychologist Sam Gosling has dispatched teams of scientific investigators to poke around bedrooms and offices, check out iPods, and peek at personal websites—to see what can be learned about us simply from looking at our belongings. What he Do the things on your desk betray the thoughts on your mind? Does your dining room décor carry clues to your character? Award-winning psychologist Sam Gosling has dispatched teams of scientific investigators to poke around bedrooms and offices, check out iPods, and peek at personal websites—to see what can be learned about us simply from looking at our belongings. What he has discovered is intriguing: When it comes to the most essential components of our personality—from friendliness and flexibility to openness and originality—the things we own and the way we arrange them can say more about who we are than even our most intimate conversations.Packed with 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 and work.

30 review for Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    Do you know that feeling you have when you have enjoyed a book and are about to write a review and think, “God, I hope that not everything I say sounds like a criticism.” Well, I did enjoy this book, but I’ve a horrible feeling that might not come across. If I’d been writing this book I would have started off by calling it, “So You Think You Want to be Sherlock Holmes?” Do you know how the start of every Holmes mystery has him showing off by telling his new client (or the ever corrigible Dr Watson Do you know that feeling you have when you have enjoyed a book and are about to write a review and think, “God, I hope that not everything I say sounds like a criticism.” Well, I did enjoy this book, but I’ve a horrible feeling that might not come across. If I’d been writing this book I would have started off by calling it, “So You Think You Want to be Sherlock Holmes?” Do you know how the start of every Holmes mystery has him showing off by telling his new client (or the ever corrigible Dr Watson) what he or she has been up by his remarkable ability to connect the dots on a series of clues left on or about their person? And do you know how in some stories Holmes gets Watson to have a go first – and after Watson has invariably grabbed all the red herrings and (in my strangely appropriate pair of mixed clichés) made a meal of whole thing, Holmes then points out the correct interpretation? Well, that is as near as I can get to telling you what this book is about. In Gladwell’s Blink – and I don’t have a copy of the book, so I can’t check that this was actually the guy he was referring to (although, if I was a betting man…) – he talks about how people do remarkably well at judging the personalities of peoplethey have never met just by spending a little time in their room. This guy has made a career out of precisely this stunt. Years ago, when I was working in local government, I did a series of personality tests. My all-time favourite was the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). I had hoped that this would prove to be a metallic box with two moveable handles on top which one could use to control friends and family. Unfortunately, it proved to be a kind of graph in a circle. The graph was made of four points in four quadrants and each of these had its own colour – green, blue, red and yellow. Now, again, if it was me, I would have made the green quadrant beige. (Sorry, an aside: part of the process of working out what you are like was a series of flash cards that were scattered about on the floor and you had to pick up four that you felt best described you. The cards said things like: Creative, Sexy, Smart, Lively, Porn Star – you know, the sorts of things most of us think we are as a matter of course. Then there were cards I initially thought were put in the mix as a bit of a joke. I nudged my friend over one of these – Punctual. Now, I was working at the time in Strategic Research and we were doing this as a joint exercise with Financial Services. I nudged my friend and said, “Imagine coming here and picking that card. Imagine living a life in which the only positive thing you could say about yourself was that you generally turn up on time to things.” We all sat down with the five adjectives we had selected that best described ourselves – I’m not sure if ‘empathy’ was one of mine or not now. Anyway, we each had to hold up our first – and most important - card and explain why it mattered so much to us. The first guy was from Finance and he said … I kid you not … “Punctual: Well, anyone who knows me knows I like to be on time.” And, ladies and gentlemen, I can also report that he said this with real pride. I know, I’m as disturbed by this as you are, but I can only report what actually happened.) Where was I? Oh yes, personality tests. The other part of this process was to guess what your graph would look like prior to them showing the graph specially and scientifically produced on the basis of the questions asked a week before in their terribly scientific survey. What I found most disturbing about this was that the graph I drew in anticipation and the graph they produced from the survey were identical. I’m honestly not telling you this to show how incredibly self aware I am. For this book to be useful – and it is trying to be useful – it has to show you two things. Firstly, that personality types exist and secondly, that personalities are somehow able to be glimpsed via how we organise our stuff. I think the guy who wrote this book really wishes he was much more organised than he actually is. As someone proudly moderately organised – I know basically were my stuff is and don’t feel in the least uneasy because in my bookcase Zola is in the top left and Balzac is in the middle of the same shelf. I try to avoid such bourgeois notions as alphabetical order. I’m also not totally sure what to make of personality types. In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator I’m an INTP. But one day I joined an Internet group of fellow INTPs and found I had nothing in common with them at all. Also, when I got my Herrmann Brain Instrument back I found that my graph was virtually identical to the only person in the office I felt I had nothing in common with. If you were an employer and you wanted to employ someone to fill a particular gap, I’m sure getting either me or this other person would certainly not have been anything like the same experience for you. I’m telling you all this, because whatever personality types are, they definitely don’t tell you what someone will be like – and if they don’t tell you this, it is a bit hard to know what it is that they do tell you. I’m also a ‘shades of grey’ kind of guy. Are you introverted or extroverted? Well, you know, that sounds a little black and white for my tastes. So, given that personalities are problematic for me, that is going to make the rest of this book somewhat problematic too. If it is hard to say what a person’s personality will be like, and, honestly, the guy who was virtually identical to me in the HBDI couldn’t really have been too much more different from me, then it is hard to know what you are learning by learning someone is probably an extrovert because they like to wear loud clothes. The stuff I found most interesting in this book was that we tend to think of neurotics as being hyper-depressive, but actually they tend to be the people with motivational posters on their walls. I really liked the idea that this was the case, in fact, I have extended it to organisations generally – and so accepted this without question. The other thing was one of those nice things that are obvious once they are explained, but that I would never have thought of at all if they hadn’t been explained to me. I was in this guy’s office this morning. He is a HR manager. We were led into his office and it was very strange. There was nothing in the room that had any personality at all. Not a single photograph. Stuff was neat, but not really ordered. For example, there were bits of electronic equipment on the bookshelves - they weren’t untidy, but you wouldn’t really say they were in just the right place either. The only ‘personal’ things in the room were a ‘footy fixtures poster’ which was in his plain view for him while he was sitting at his desk and a poem of some sort about the Tigers (a local football team). This was on a shelf set so high that he would have had real trouble seeing it while sitting at his desk, but was immediately visible to anyone sitting anywhere in his office. And what did I learn from snooping about is office while he spoke? He is a man who likes to keep his private and professional lives separate. It might be that his private life is a mess (odd how I immediately checked to see if there was a wedding ring – and wasn’t at all surprised to see that there wasn’t) and that he sees his office as a sanctuary. All the same, he is the HR manager, and so ought to be the human face of the corporation. It was also interesting that there were no corporate symbols about his office either. If you wanted to build a nearly perfectly characterless office, it would be hard to go past this one. Don’t pretend the football stuff is a symbol of his personality (although, I suspect he probably would like to be considered a Tiger). Football conversations are the conversations one has when one wants to say as little as possible about themselves. Which is possibly why they are the preferred conversations of men. My very dear friend Ruth makes up entire life stories of people in cafes based on the scantiest of evidence gleaned from half overheard conversations. I always marvel and always love these beautifully constructed factual-fictions. So, although I am not sure what a personality is, I did enjoy this book and do like the idea of becoming a snoop.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kip

    Picked this up after hearing the author on NPR. It's much more theoretical/academic than I'd hoped, and the real-life anecdotes are almost exclusively drawn from the author's academic life -- so unless you are looking for lots of rumination about dorm rooms and admissions interviews, this may not be the book for you. Also, I can't remember the last time I felt an author LOVING himself as much Dr. Gosling does here. He really does think he's the shiz. If I ever discovered a guy texting the content Picked this up after hearing the author on NPR. It's much more theoretical/academic than I'd hoped, and the real-life anecdotes are almost exclusively drawn from the author's academic life -- so unless you are looking for lots of rumination about dorm rooms and admissions interviews, this may not be the book for you. Also, I can't remember the last time I felt an author LOVING himself as much Dr. Gosling does here. He really does think he's the shiz. If I ever discovered a guy texting the contents of my medicine chest to a friend for analysis (as the author proudly admits he did during a date), I'd throw that person out on his tuchus, award-winning professor or no.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Aside from the arresting cover design, I was also drawn to this book because I have, at times, exhibited tendencies toward incorrigible snooping. Rifling through people's belongings is so much easier than actually talking to them, isn't it? The premise of Snoop is that people reveal their personalities through their environments: homes, offices, dorm rooms, cars, etc. For the keen observer, there is much to be learned from someone's personal space. The problem with a lot of these pop psychology b Aside from the arresting cover design, I was also drawn to this book because I have, at times, exhibited tendencies toward incorrigible snooping. Rifling through people's belongings is so much easier than actually talking to them, isn't it? The premise of Snoop is that people reveal their personalities through their environments: homes, offices, dorm rooms, cars, etc. For the keen observer, there is much to be learned from someone's personal space. The problem with a lot of these pop psychology books is that there is just not enough science there to sustain a complete book, and that seemed to be the general problem with this book. Gosling introduced his key concepts at the start but had to keep repeating himself to stretch out his idea, even to the point of referencing a lot of the same studies over and over. In addition, anyone looking for practical snooping advice will be disappointed, as the results of the studies are tabulated in such a detailed way as to make practical takeaways virtually impossible. Maybe one or two facts would stick in your mind when looking at, say, your coworker's cubicle. What kept me going were the more anecdotal stories about Gosling's snooping that are spread throughout the chapters. The writing style was engaging enough, and I had enough native interest in the science of personality to slog through the more repetitive portions. All in all, I'm glad I thought to request this from the library rather than shelling out hardcover prices for it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Cooper

    The book's claim is that you can tell what people are like by looking at their stuff. This is an interesting premise, but I didn't think that the book quite lived up to it. It spent quite a bit of time exploring what it really means to know someone, and how we can categorize personality characteristics. After he's gone through this, he starts talking about whether (and how) we can judge someone's openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism from their belongings. Unf The book's claim is that you can tell what people are like by looking at their stuff. This is an interesting premise, but I didn't think that the book quite lived up to it. It spent quite a bit of time exploring what it really means to know someone, and how we can categorize personality characteristics. After he's gone through this, he starts talking about whether (and how) we can judge someone's openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism from their belongings. Unfortunately, all of this just seems pretty superficial. Sure, I could look at a new acquaintance's bookshelf to try to tell how open she is-- or I could figure it out from her behavior after seeing her a couple of times. The most interesting bits are where Gosling talks about specific rooms that he examined, and the conclusions that he drew from them. I would have enjoyed the book more if these sections had been a bigger part of the text. Worth reading, but not as fascinating as I had hoped.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jackie "the Librarian"

    I had to return this book to the library before I was finished, but I didn't mind. It had never captured my interest. I didn't like the charts, and I wasn't interested in analyzing myself just to be able to understand the methods presented here. I felt like the author never got to the nitty-gritty of what things meant, but kept describing rooms without then analyzing them clearly for the reader. This was not the book for me, not wanting to do the work of figuring out the charts, or the lengthy se I had to return this book to the library before I was finished, but I didn't mind. It had never captured my interest. I didn't like the charts, and I wasn't interested in analyzing myself just to be able to understand the methods presented here. I felt like the author never got to the nitty-gritty of what things meant, but kept describing rooms without then analyzing them clearly for the reader. This was not the book for me, not wanting to do the work of figuring out the charts, or the lengthy self-analysis process. I kept thinking, I'm not one of the author's students, doing assignments for class. Why is he making me jump through these hoops? Just give me the information, break it down for me, professor. And your charts, with five different kinds of dotted lines? They suck. Sorry, but they do.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I am a cluttered person. Even if I didn't live with a packrat of a husband, I would still be at least a little cluttered. I very much like surrounding myself with things like pictures, stuffed animals, little figurines and knickknacks. And I prefer it when other people's homes are cluttered, too; it feels as though life is really lived in the place, and it gives me something to look at. One of my friends, in particular, always has something new at her house, some weird quirky thing like a chess I am a cluttered person. Even if I didn't live with a packrat of a husband, I would still be at least a little cluttered. I very much like surrounding myself with things like pictures, stuffed animals, little figurines and knickknacks. And I prefer it when other people's homes are cluttered, too; it feels as though life is really lived in the place, and it gives me something to look at. One of my friends, in particular, always has something new at her house, some weird quirky thing like a chess set with specially molded pieces to look like her family members, a tiny plastic violin that plays on its own, and other interesting things. Besides being cluttered, another thing I am is a snoop. Not so much in real life - I don't go poking in other people's things, not even their medicine cabinet - but in my mind and online. I like to read home design blogs in preparation for the house we will hopefully own someday, even though I know since I am cluttered and he is a packrat our house will never look anything like the pretty, carefully designed homes in photos online. But I seriously doubt any of the pretty rooms online actually remain looking pretty. I like to imagine boxes piled with stuff just off to the left of the camera and a screaming baby on the other side being held by somebody who just does not get why everything needs to be photographed. Take this photo, for example, from Apartment Therapy. Now I assume at least one of those stockings is for a kid. In every house I've ever been in that has kids, everything on that pointless ladder (is it for cleaning the tops of the windows?) would be immediately ripped off and the ladder made into a jungle gym. From the ladder you can try to jump perfectly into that chair, or climb onto that display cabinet and upset those UFOs on the top, and then laugh while the family dog tries to walk through the strings and paper lanterns that are now on the floor and gets hopelessly tangled up. My point is, that room is really unrealistic unless it's for 3 adults, so no room is ever actually going to look like that. It even looks kinda silly if it's for adults, I think (that's why my house will never look like it belongs in a magazine). So, not being a snoop, I get kind of an unrealistic view of other people's houses. But photos that other people take for decorating blogs give you another way of snooping. If they're trying to show off a particular paint color, a mirror, a frame they made themselves from reclaimed wood, or a collage, what do the other objects they put in the photo tell you about them? Or, what can you see in the backgrounds of photos, in other rooms with the doors open? It's just like snooping as described in this book. As you can imagine, I definitely enjoyed this book. It wasn't quite the five stars of awesomeness that it could have been, but it was up there. The author uses psychology to analyze the objects in people's rooms and try to find out what it tells him about their personalities. (For example, having sports memorabilia up means you might lean conservative politically; having maps up means you are probably open-minded in your day to day life.) You can extrapolate some of what he writes about easily to people you know. Somebody who is always trying to be on top of things might have their bedroom relatively organized and the CDs all in one place, but if you look closely you might see they're not in any particular order, the discs are missing from some of the cases, they're all mixed up, etc. Or, if somebody has photos all around their computer monitor, whether the photos face the person or visitors to their office tells you something. This book doesn't exactly give you a list of stuff and how it correlates to personality. It doesn't go, "okay, if they have a sock sticking out of their drawer it tells you this, and if they have a stuffed pig on their desk it tells you this," but it does give you information you can use. It helps you break down areas where people live and figure out how their stuff relates to them. I have never really had occasion to walk into somebody's office or bedroom or bathroom and systematically tackle their personality, and especially I have never done this for a stranger; I think the best way to figure out somebody's personality is to actually talk to them, or rather listen to them talk. But, I like the information nonetheless.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This seemed like a really good fun read--how to "read" a person based on their stuff in their room. Heck, who doesn't do it already? But it reads like an expanded, somewhat lightened academic paper. I majored in Psych and enjoy social science research, but I expected a fun Mary Roach-esque romp through entertainment science, and it wasn't. Gosling tried to keep it light, but just threw study after study into the book. Some only tenuously connected to the overall theme. For example, in the chapte This seemed like a really good fun read--how to "read" a person based on their stuff in their room. Heck, who doesn't do it already? But it reads like an expanded, somewhat lightened academic paper. I majored in Psych and enjoy social science research, but I expected a fun Mary Roach-esque romp through entertainment science, and it wasn't. Gosling tried to keep it light, but just threw study after study into the book. Some only tenuously connected to the overall theme. For example, in the chapter explaining stereotypes, he included a study where white workers conspicuously avoided using the term "black" to narrow down which person they were referring to, even in a company with only a 10% black population. It is interesting, but how exactly does it relate to snooping behavior? If I'm snooping through someone's stuff, I'm probably not so worried about offending. I really wanted more concrete information about what "stuff says about you", with examples, even if they are composites to protect subject confidentiality.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I found this book a tedious. It seemed as if the author had very little to say and filed the book with quotes from studies done by others. This must be a university publish or perish situation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I expected a fun read from which I might learn a few interesting things. The interesting things were few and far apart. So was the fun.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Arminzerella

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book had so much potential. Sam Gosling is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. And he’s into snooping. He does it professionally. He studies what people have, what they throw away, where they live, how they live, what they put up on their websites, how they dress, etc. to find clues as to what kinds of people they are. It turns out that you can learn quite a lot about someone from their environment. And, in many cases, we form opinions about people (un This book had so much potential. Sam Gosling is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. And he’s into snooping. He does it professionally. He studies what people have, what they throw away, where they live, how they live, what they put up on their websites, how they dress, etc. to find clues as to what kinds of people they are. It turns out that you can learn quite a lot about someone from their environment. And, in many cases, we form opinions about people (unconsciously) based on the things that we see in these environments. After about 150 pages of reading about how exciting this science of snooping was, and looking at various maps and graphs and charts depicting the findings of various snoopers and what kinds of things are really telling about someone’s possessions or environment, I was really ready to see some pictures or hear some real snooping accounts. That never happened. And it was a huge let down. I skimmed the rest of the book, looking for more, and ended up not finishing it. Because it basically kept returning to the same quantifiable things you could learn about someone from their stuff – their conscientiousness, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. What I want is a show, where we walk through like Sherlock Holmes and deduce things. Crime Scene Investigation, even. And there was no satisfaction. The book reads well, and is interesting, but without the payoff of actual investigations, it doesn’t give you, the reader, any opportunity to see what you can discern/infer and then to find out what you missed. There’s another book, In My Room: Teenagers in Their Bedrooms, by Adrienne Salinger, which gives you the visual component that this book lacks. Or Material World: A Global Family Portrait, by Peter Menzel, et. al., which takes all of the belongings of different families all over the world and stacks them outside their house so you can see what kinds of stuff (and how much) they have and use in their lives. Fascinating stuff. If professor Gosling had done something like that and then explained what finding certain things meant, I think it would have been even more compelling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    *How to snoop to get the scoop* What does that bowl of please-help-yourself-anytime(!) candy on your co-worker's desk reveal about her? What do the type and placement of the pictures and knickknacks you've placed in your office say about you? What kind of personality clues can you get from looking at someone's book collection and how it is (or is not) arranged? What can your date's iPod list tell you about his interests and values? What do your e-mail address and signature communicate about your *How to snoop to get the scoop* What does that bowl of please-help-yourself-anytime(!) candy on your co-worker's desk reveal about her? What do the type and placement of the pictures and knickknacks you've placed in your office say about you? What kind of personality clues can you get from looking at someone's book collection and how it is (or is not) arranged? What can your date's iPod list tell you about his interests and values? What do your e-mail address and signature communicate about your personality? How can you figure out if someone is really as organized and open-minded as they initially appear? If any of these questions fascinate the heck out of you, then you'll probably want to get your hands on a copy of Sam Gosling's _Snoop_. In this hard-to-put-down and even-harder-to-forget book, Gosling shows how "we can capture something about a person's character and personality, values and habits, hopes and dreams, just from looking closely at their rooms or offices." He categorizes our stuff into three basic levels of personality revealers: (1) Identity claims--the stuff like posters, bumper stickers, and photos we use to make specific statements about who we are ; (2) Feeling regulators--ambiance-enhancing/mood-inspiring items like family photographs and scented candles we have to help regulate our emotions and thoughts; (3) Behavioral residue--the physical traces (look no further than refrigerator shelves, trash containers, and bedroom floors) that provide evidence of our everyday actions, which ultimately reveal volumes about our personality, goals, and values. Sam brilliantly explores how we can use the above type of clues and cues to better asses, anticipate, and accommodate the "OCEAN's Five" key components of personality: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. To help systematize the super snooping process, he shares his "Snooping Field Guides" which use specific clues (such as how a person dresses/walks/talks/shakes hands/fills their bookcase/decorates their bedroom and office spaces/tends to their eyebrow grooming) to remarkably reveal information about their personality. If you're a psychology junkie, or just a normal (?) human curious about the charming abnormalities of other humans, _Snoop_ will be as inviting and tasty as that big bowl of candy on your co-worker's desk. And, where you place the book when you are finished reading it will reveal volumes about your personalty.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I thought this book was going to be more about where and how people live but it turns out it is really about the study of personality in the field of psychology. Way to market the book incorrectly, publishing company! It was kind of interesting, reading about various studies concerning "the big 5" in the field of personality studies. Kind of. My biggest take away from reading this, which was published in 2009, is just how much technology has changed our daily lifestyles in the last 11 years. He I thought this book was going to be more about where and how people live but it turns out it is really about the study of personality in the field of psychology. Way to market the book incorrectly, publishing company! It was kind of interesting, reading about various studies concerning "the big 5" in the field of personality studies. Kind of. My biggest take away from reading this, which was published in 2009, is just how much technology has changed our daily lifestyles in the last 11 years. He tells of studies where they went into college students dorm rooms and looked at their dvd and cd collections for clues into their personalities. He writes about checking what radio presets people have in their cars - lol - to see what type of personality they have. He discusses MySpace. He talks about the quotes some people put at the end of their emails being a telling glimpse into their personalities. . My 18 and 21 yr old NEVER check their emails. It's so frustrating. They only like to text. Is that still a thing, adding quotes at the end of emails? I never did that. Multiple times he says that having extra postage stamps in your office or home is a sign of a conscientiousness. Ok, yes, I keep stamps in my desk but I am in my 50's. I doubt Millennials are keeping a bunch of stamps lying around, even if they are conscientiousness. He talks about studying personal websites - I think he meant blogs? I learned two interesting tidbits from this book. First, when looking at someone's office/desk, note which way things like framed photos are facing. If they are facing out to the visitor, the person is sending out a social signal stating their values and identity(a family man, lots of friends etc) and if faced inward where the person can see the photos sitting down, the images represent what the scientists call "social snacks" - images or mementos that help a person feel connected and less alone. My other big take away is that according to studies, hanging up motivational quotes or posting them online signals a high rate of neuroticism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I can't make up my mind about this book because it seemed like every time I turned the page, the author stated something that piqued my curiosity or crossed that fine line between being a half way decent person and being a scumbag. I thoroughly enjoyed the implementation and use of a new personality test, called OCEANs Five, which focused on Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. I felt this new system was able to more broadly encompass the variations in a per I can't make up my mind about this book because it seemed like every time I turned the page, the author stated something that piqued my curiosity or crossed that fine line between being a half way decent person and being a scumbag. I thoroughly enjoyed the implementation and use of a new personality test, called OCEANs Five, which focused on Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. I felt this new system was able to more broadly encompass the variations in a person's personality than other personality tests I've taken or studied in the past. The author provides a mini OCEANs Five test, tells you how to score it, allows you to compare your results against the average ratings for both genders, and even provides a website to take an expanded version of the test. Another nugget of entertainment was the OCQ, or Over Claiming Questionnaire. This consisted of a list of ten names and the participants had to score them on a scale of 0 - 10 based on how familiar you are with them (0 is not at all and 10 is very familiar). Apparently, narcissists will score everyone with high familiarity ratings, even those people on the test who are fictitious. When the test administrator tells the narcissist that some of the names are made up, the narcissist argues with the test administrator, implying that he really does know the made up people! In other narcissist news, the book also details a narcissist reveling in the fact that he got all the answers correct on the narcissism part of a personality test. That narcissist was an MBA student at a prestigious college... The scumbag parts, well, they just made me kind of queasy. For example, Sam Gosling details an evening with a new love interest in which he raids her medicine cabinet, finds prescription pills (it's implied that he thinks they may be drugs for mental illness) so he texts the pill information to a friend who informs him that his new love interest just has really bad allergies. If I found out a potential love interest was texting the contents of medicine cabinet to someone, he would no longer be a potential love interest. I know that the book is entitled "Snoop" and it's about snooping, but I thought since it was written by someone in academia, it would be a little more, well, academic? Ethical? It's a short book with several interesting factoids and tricks to getting to know people through the art of observation (I won't call it snooping). So, if you're a people watcher or a writer who needs to work on creating more believable or well rounded characters, I think this is a great book to check out. Just take the scumbag moments with a grain of salt.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    What could someone learn about your personality by checking out your bedroom? How about your iTunes playlist? Or your Facebook profile? That's what Sam Gosling sets out to discuss in Snoop. Gosling uses our various environments, both physical and virtual, to describe our personalities according to psychology's "big five" indicators: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. He describes where many of our instincts get it right -- people are remarkably good about What could someone learn about your personality by checking out your bedroom? How about your iTunes playlist? Or your Facebook profile? That's what Sam Gosling sets out to discuss in Snoop. Gosling uses our various environments, both physical and virtual, to describe our personalities according to psychology's "big five" indicators: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. He describes where many of our instincts get it right -- people are remarkably good about determining a subject's level of extroversion from their Facebook profile or their conscientiousness from their bedroom -- and where they get it wrong -- it's remarkably difficult to determine agreeableness from physical places and objects, even though we make snap judgements about it all the time. Moreover, certain domains reveal more information about certain aspects of personality: look to an iTunes top-10 list for how open a subject is, but you won't find out much about their conscientiousness. Snoop isn't like a dream dictionary. You won't find concise lists of equivalences ("a hanging mobile = a whimsical outlook on life"). Gosling is clear that almost everything is context-specific and interconnected. A statue of the Virgin Mary could be a piece of kitch memorbilia in a room that also contains Christmas-tree lights and an Elvis bedspread but could indicate a deep religious spirituality if paired with a Bible and a poster of the Lord's Prayer. A desk organizer could be a sign of conscientiousness, but if everyone else in the office has one, it's more likely that it was just a corporate giveaway. Can you use this book to fake your way into giving a false impression of yourself? Present yourself as more open or more conscientious, for example? Gosling would probably argue, "Yes, to an extent." He points out the difference between a "tidied" room and one that is "tidy," and shows that it's remarkably difficult to fake a truly conscientious personality. A single day (or even a week) of cleaning isn't enough; conscientiousness requires small daily actions to maintain. It's similar with the other traits: some of our effect on our spaces is under our control, but a lot of it is unconscious. Is Snoop worth a read? It's certainly a fascinating look at how we interact with our environments. If you're the sort of person who people-watches and sneaks a peak into your host's medicine cabinet when you're at a party, you should probably check out Snoop. And if you're planning on doing any snooping in my apartment, my teddy bears will be watching you.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    I have to say I didn't really like this book very much. I enjoyed the premise, which is that our physical trappings can give insights into our inner lives. I agree with that, but I found the presentation in this book to be off-putting. The author seems to have tried to appeal to a wider audience by couching his arguments and hypotheses in a pseudo how-to book. All of the chapters are framed in a "how-to-be-a-snoop" style. I would have preferred just a simple, straightforward discussion of his top I have to say I didn't really like this book very much. I enjoyed the premise, which is that our physical trappings can give insights into our inner lives. I agree with that, but I found the presentation in this book to be off-putting. The author seems to have tried to appeal to a wider audience by couching his arguments and hypotheses in a pseudo how-to book. All of the chapters are framed in a "how-to-be-a-snoop" style. I would have preferred just a simple, straightforward discussion of his topic. The how-to approach seemed kind of chintzy, like he was trying too hard. Because of the subject matter, I also sort of expected some reference to Pierre Bourdieu's 1984 work on a similar subject (Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste). That is, I was expecting Snoop to go beyond what our stuff says about our individual selves, and to dig into what our stuff says about where we belong in the larger society. But instead of expanding his arguments to a social level, Snoop's author leaves them at the level of the individual, which I suppose is indicative of his training as a psychologist. It seems, though, that a larger perspective is needed, even considering his focus is the psychology of the individual. Bourdieu's research showed that our individual aesthetic preferences are heavily informed by our social and position, which implies that our very psychological makeup is at least partly determined by our social class. This seems an important point, even in a book about psychology. I think that Snoop is an example of the reluctance of the different academic disciplines to communicate with each other. In my training as an anthropologist, I never read any psychology, and I bet that psychologists don't read much anthropological theory (as evidenced by Snoop's total lack of references to Bourdieu's book). Anthropological pickiness aside, I didn't enjoy the presentation, as noted above, which is disappointing in what could have been a very interesting subject.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Azadeh Nasrazadani

    Before picking up this book, I initially giggled at a review that said:” Gosh, did you know that if someone has flowers on their desk, it means they probably like flowers? That's about the gist of this book.” But after finishing the book, I feel like that is an unfair over-generalization of this work. As a scientist (albeit in the biological sciences), I appreciated the seemingly thorough referencing of both his and other groups’ findings. I liked that we got to see the “raw data”, but more so I Before picking up this book, I initially giggled at a review that said:” Gosh, did you know that if someone has flowers on their desk, it means they probably like flowers? That's about the gist of this book.” But after finishing the book, I feel like that is an unfair over-generalization of this work. As a scientist (albeit in the biological sciences), I appreciated the seemingly thorough referencing of both his and other groups’ findings. I liked that we got to see the “raw data”, but more so I appreciated where he pointed out the flaws of the included studies. Yes, I agree none of the findings are earth-shattering, but he never claims that. This compilation of anecdotes and studies merely provides support for the hypothesis that personal possessions and their arrangement can be possibly used to make inferences about one’s personality. Despite my limited knowledge of the social sciences, I think the complexity of human personality requires more than a work of about 230 pages to unearth a major revelation, and that is clearly not the objective of this book to begin with. Also, as is pointed out in the text, hindsight is 20/20. Without actually carrying out the experiments, it could not be determined which assumptions/generalizations actually held true, and which ones did not. If you did read it till the end, you would have noticed that not all of the preconceived notions and associations were able to be proven. So, I didn’t discover the meaning of life from this book. But, I did enjoy it for what it did provide: an insight into understanding a little more about people than I previously did.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This book was more psychological than I expected. Not being big on reading psychology I wasn't sure what I was in for, but was pleasantly surprised as indicated by my 4 star rating. My original motivation for picking up this book was to find out why someone would snoop in a friend's medicine cabinet and bedroom. Mr. Gosling never gives the answer, in fact, he encourages the reader to do the same. However, after reading his book, I'm sure it has to do with his lower level of conscientiousness. ( This book was more psychological than I expected. Not being big on reading psychology I wasn't sure what I was in for, but was pleasantly surprised as indicated by my 4 star rating. My original motivation for picking up this book was to find out why someone would snoop in a friend's medicine cabinet and bedroom. Mr. Gosling never gives the answer, in fact, he encourages the reader to do the same. However, after reading his book, I'm sure it has to do with his lower level of conscientiousness. (No, I'm not being mean, there is a test referenced in the book that measures this. He admits conscientiousness wasn't one of his stronger attributes.) Although, I find this annoying and rude I honestly have to say it was incredibly interesting how much information about someone could be gleaned from what's in the medicine cabinet, which way a spouse's picture is facing or a room with no pictures on the wall. I still don't think snooping is a fair trade off as a means to get more info about someone, but this book was a fun read. Quite frankly, Sam Gosling will never be invited to dinner at my house, but I'll probably read his next book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Professor of Coolness(at least he's trying to be with this buddy-buddy writing style!) Dr. Gosling explains how people's rooms/offices/blogs/etc reflect major personality traits such as conscientiousness, openness, extroversion, and to a lesser extent, agreeableness and neuroticism. I thought this book would be a little wacko, but it's not - it's interesting, well-researched, and well-illustrated with compelling research examples. Who knew that people who have those horrible inspirational poster Professor of Coolness(at least he's trying to be with this buddy-buddy writing style!) Dr. Gosling explains how people's rooms/offices/blogs/etc reflect major personality traits such as conscientiousness, openness, extroversion, and to a lesser extent, agreeableness and neuroticism. I thought this book would be a little wacko, but it's not - it's interesting, well-researched, and well-illustrated with compelling research examples. Who knew that people who have those horrible inspirational posters in their offices were usually neurotic? However, there are sooo many caveats - Gosling is careful to convey the need to look at the big picture and not zoom in on details that may be misleading. Gosling repeats himself just ENOUGH - helping to hammer home his key points while continuously introducing new fun facts! Woooo! Plus, I found myself chuckling a lot with Gosling's punniness and I thought his friendly tone was engaging, not annoying. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I couldn't put this down!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    Some very interesting things in this book. It went a bit more technical than I had anticipated. I listened to the audio book and while it was good I think I would recommend reading the actual book. Lots of lists and questions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cristopher

    This is an engaging book which gives the reader a glimpse into people's personalities, through the items and habits they maintain. The book makes the reader feel like a detective in training, gaining the necessary skills to profile their targets. It's especially fascinating to think more deeply about why we keep the things we have, and how they reflect upon our personality as a whole. This is an engaging book which gives the reader a glimpse into people's personalities, through the items and habits they maintain. The book makes the reader feel like a detective in training, gaining the necessary skills to profile their targets. It's especially fascinating to think more deeply about why we keep the things we have, and how they reflect upon our personality as a whole.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vincent

    Meh....had some good parts but convoluted concepts and clunky throughout. It was more of an organizational I think overall.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chantelle

    Not going to finish. Irrelevant and boring. A disappointment.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara Whear

    2.5 stars. It wasn't a bad book or anything, I just didn't find it interesting or particularly helpful or ground-breaking. 2.5 stars. It wasn't a bad book or anything, I just didn't find it interesting or particularly helpful or ground-breaking.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim Mcnelly

    Snoop, what your stuff says about you by Sam Gosling I chose to read this book because it caught my eye when browsing iTunes offering. I struggle with EIQ and being able to read people and situations and I chose this book in hopes to broaden my knowledge of how to read people. Because it specifically talked about workplace environments and how these are arranges, I thought that maybe helpful to me at work. My learnings from this book are: • Taking a look at people’s personal surroundings can tell y Snoop, what your stuff says about you by Sam Gosling I chose to read this book because it caught my eye when browsing iTunes offering. I struggle with EIQ and being able to read people and situations and I chose this book in hopes to broaden my knowledge of how to read people. Because it specifically talked about workplace environments and how these are arranges, I thought that maybe helpful to me at work. My learnings from this book are: • Taking a look at people’s personal surroundings can tell you a lot about a person, be it at home or at work. • If you are looking around someone’s home and you want to determine something they are proud of, but is personal to them, you don’t find this in a common area, they will keep this in a private (bedroom) or a semi-private (home office)room that most guests do not go in. • When someone faces their photos from their desk to face the chairs where their guests are sitting, they want you to see their family. This can be for several reasons, but including to brag, or to know they are proud of their family. • If someone keeps a photo of someone where only they can see it, it is for positive reinforcement of something that this person stands for or has taught them. This is for personal gain and not to be shared with guests that come into an office. • You can tell about a person from the books that are in their spaces. Not just what books they are, but how they are organized and if they read them, or have them to hope it makes people think they are reading them. • Not everything can be told from people’s things. You have to consider why they have these things and even evaluate if the things actually belong to that person. Never just to judgment and always ask if you are not sure. • Bathrooms are a good place to Snoop, if the person you are snooping on is a stranger. You can tell if they have dental issues, how much they value personal hygiene, etc. ONE THING I TOOK AWAY: The way that photos are set up in someone’s office can tell you if they want you to see their “beautiful family” or if they use the photo as a connection to their family and home. WHAT I WILL APPLY: I will be more aware of my surroundings because of what I can perceive from them. Being able to “read the room” is something that I can use on a daily basis.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    This was a fascinating, quick read that urges the reader to indulge in their inner voyeur when encountering new people, “snooping” common household and personal objects to indulge in clues as to their personality, both “outer” and “inner.” From the types of decorations we use to adorn our spaces to the music we listen to, author Sam Gosling argues that everything can be a clue to a certain person’s level of extroversion or introversion, openness, even their likely political beliefs. While writte This was a fascinating, quick read that urges the reader to indulge in their inner voyeur when encountering new people, “snooping” common household and personal objects to indulge in clues as to their personality, both “outer” and “inner.” From the types of decorations we use to adorn our spaces to the music we listen to, author Sam Gosling argues that everything can be a clue to a certain person’s level of extroversion or introversion, openness, even their likely political beliefs. While written engagingly, the book can occasionally bog down in its descriptions of psychological concepts; for those deeply interested in psychology, this may be an asset. However, Gosling’s ideas are very interesting and I quickly found myself applying the tips he describes. His studies involving the analysis of random dorm rooms were entertaining and informative, and I began to imagine how my own living space would (or would not) give away my own personality. There was some description of how online spaces (like Goodreads, or LibraryThing) can also be analyzed, but this I think could be expanded upon in future studies. Of course, Gosling’s work definitely provides tools to work out things on your own as well. I particularly found his descriptions of the Big Five Personality Traits to be a very good gauge of personality. Being more familiar previously with the Meyers Briggs Personality Test, after taking the tests I too found the Big Five much more accurate to my own personality. As a breezy, entertaining bit of non-fiction, I quite enjoyed Snoop.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vish Wam

    First, how important do you think it is, to be socially aware? How important is it to be well informed of the nature and lives of people around us? I believe its a necessary skill every one must develop. In this hyperspeed world with complex interconnected lives of people, its quite impossible to get to know people solely reliant on face to face communication. This book offers you a detour into getting info of people by pattern recognition from observations we make of people. This is more like E First, how important do you think it is, to be socially aware? How important is it to be well informed of the nature and lives of people around us? I believe its a necessary skill every one must develop. In this hyperspeed world with complex interconnected lives of people, its quite impossible to get to know people solely reliant on face to face communication. This book offers you a detour into getting info of people by pattern recognition from observations we make of people. This is more like Educated Guessing rather than crude Sherlock Holmes. It may seem as if the chapters have been haphazardly arranged, and there have even been some reviews made, that the book felt like two differently themed books clubbed together. However, you can modularize the book into three portions: 1.Getting to know what makes up Personality: Traits, Aims and Goals, Beliefs etc. 2.Categorizing traits into broad classes and linking traits that 'go together' and Best of all 3.How to Snoop and Extract information from observation. The correct methodology for observation i.e Where to look for getting what kind of information about personality. Once you have extracted a basal level information through snooping, you use that information as a leverage for teasing out other information and so on. Probably takes more than one read to crystalize and organize info into practice but- The Book is A Must Read!!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kater Cheek

    This book is justification for the people who inspect others' bookshelves and secretly judge them. As we all pretty much knew already, you CAN find out a lot about people by looking at their stuff. The question is, how much? That's what this book delves into. Gosling has done much of the research himself, for which I commend him, and he has plenty of tables and charts peppering the book with visual explanations of what this research has revealed. However, despite what the jacket says, the bulk of This book is justification for the people who inspect others' bookshelves and secretly judge them. As we all pretty much knew already, you CAN find out a lot about people by looking at their stuff. The question is, how much? That's what this book delves into. Gosling has done much of the research himself, for which I commend him, and he has plenty of tables and charts peppering the book with visual explanations of what this research has revealed. However, despite what the jacket says, the bulk of his research deals with where people fall along the big five (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeability, and Neuroticism.) It's not going to let you in on the secret that if your boyfriend uses a red toothbrush, he's more likely to cheat on you than if he uses a blue one, or that if your co-worker wears toe socks she's less likely to embezzle from the company. In fact, the most revealing parts were what you COULDN'T tell from people's stuff. This is a pretty fun and easy read, and it gave me one or two tidbits to drop at parties, but it wasn't life-changing. I think my expectations were set a little high by the jacket flap. I thought it would turn me into a Sherlock-ian sleuth like that producer on 30 Rock, but instead it just told me that neurotic people are likely to have those inspirational posters and wear black.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I really liked this book, although it is about a subject I find interesting so I'm sure I started out biased in its favor. The book spends a good amount of time discussing what you can discern about someone by looking at their home or office. Most of it was not earth shattering, but there were parts that were counterintuitive. There were also parts that just made you wonder what the correlation between the two things were. However, the most interesting, by far, part was what you couldn't learn f I really liked this book, although it is about a subject I find interesting so I'm sure I started out biased in its favor. The book spends a good amount of time discussing what you can discern about someone by looking at their home or office. Most of it was not earth shattering, but there were parts that were counterintuitive. There were also parts that just made you wonder what the correlation between the two things were. However, the most interesting, by far, part was what you couldn't learn from someone's space. Throughout the book there are parts of a person's personality that you can't determine by their things and how they keep their space. What was even more interesting was that in his research many, many people thought they could tell. People were really poor predictors of certain traits. I liked that this book was written by the PhD who actually has done a good bit of research. While I love Gladwell and his synthesising of research, I can appreciate even more a researcher who is able to write a book that is readable and enjoyable. He works the magic of being able to make you curious enough about his examples that you actually go out and look into them. Truly an interesting and enjoyable read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Efox

    I really enjoyed this book. The central premise is that our personality (which he uses OCEAN test rather than the more static MBPTI for personality types since it measures you on a sliding scale rather than fitting into or out of a box http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/) seeps out of us in ways we are unaware. The way we decorate our spaces, but particularly our bedrooms, say a lot about who we are. He leads you through an archaeological type excavation of what our personality prints leave beh I really enjoyed this book. The central premise is that our personality (which he uses OCEAN test rather than the more static MBPTI for personality types since it measures you on a sliding scale rather than fitting into or out of a box http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/) seeps out of us in ways we are unaware. The way we decorate our spaces, but particularly our bedrooms, say a lot about who we are. He leads you through an archaeological type excavation of what our personality prints leave behind on things we touch. I thought it was interesting that instead of simply focusing on what your stuff ACTUALLY says about you, he shows you what other people think about your stuff, even if it's the wrong conclusion. I really enjoyed the what are the right things to look for and what are the wrong. He also does a great job of covering things like work spaces, how people walk, how people dress, what kind of music people listen to and what that says about their personality. Gosling is able to distill intense psychological research in to easy to understand terms and able to give you a good idea of what your stuff is saying about you. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out more about the people you interact with on a daily basis.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Smith

    Disappointing and somewhat unsatisfactory take on the trail we leave in our work and living spaces and how you can determine personality traits from examination of said spaces. Written with a fairly heavy reliance on the author's personal experience and this grates after a while. There is a certain amount of research referenced in the text and certainly there are interesting elements. Overall however one is left with the resounding impression: "so what?". Many of the examples bear fruit but there Disappointing and somewhat unsatisfactory take on the trail we leave in our work and living spaces and how you can determine personality traits from examination of said spaces. Written with a fairly heavy reliance on the author's personal experience and this grates after a while. There is a certain amount of research referenced in the text and certainly there are interesting elements. Overall however one is left with the resounding impression: "so what?". Many of the examples bear fruit but there is always the caveat of the unusual case of exception to the rule. One of the measures of success is that most people can pick the sex of the person owning a bedroom from clues left there - that isn't really that surprising! Relatively easy read but didn't really add greatly to my thinking, which is a shame. The topic is potentially interesting, but one is left with the impression that finding out about someone through detailed conversation is, albeit flawed, a much more life enhancing and interesting pursuit.

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