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Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality by Samuel Barondes

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Two. Troublesome Patterns

When we talk about people, we don’t just use adjectives, such as dutiful or lazy. We also use nouns, such as workaholic or slacker. The adjectives are a way of describing traits that someone has. The nouns are a way of describing categories that someone fits into.

Putting people into categories seems very efficient: A single word or phrase appears to offer a big picture of what a person is like. But words such as workaholic aren’t really labels for a complete personality. For example, workaholic means “one who is addicted to work or who voluntarily works excessively hard and unusually long hours,” and slacker means “a person who shirks work.” So instead of describing a whole person, nouns such as workaholic or slacker ...

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