You will probably start thinking that I have a lot of respect for the work that Helen Fisher has done. And I do. She is doing some very important research and, if not alone in her field, certainly seems to be far ahead of anyone else. I mentioned earlier her book, “Why We Love.” She has another book, “Why Him, Why Her,” that I recently started to read. She has identified four personality types that help define WHY people choose each other. These are Explorer, Builder, Director, and Negotiator. I am not going to give the test to you. It is in the book, so if you want to take it, you will have to get it from Dr. Fisher.
Explorers are attracted to other Explorers and Builders are attracted to other Builders. But Directors are attracted to Negotiators and Negotiators are attracted to Directors. Directors have high levels of testosterone; Negotiators have high levels of Estrogen. Now the interesting thing for me is that I am a Director and there is a relationship between high testosterone levels and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
"Individuals with a great deal of fetal testosterone also tend to be less skilled at recognizing emotions and less sensitive to the feelings of others. Affiliated with mind blindness, these people aren’t able to judge what others are thinking or feeling. They can lack empathy, too, and become aloof and impersonal, even cold. In fact, Galen called these men and women “phlegmatic,” largely because they were often distant and detached. Moreover, scientists believe that an extreme overload of prenatal testosterone can contribute to autism and related syndromes. Severely autistic boys and girls make little or no eye contact with others, nor do they express compassion or even the slightest awareness of the feelings of others. Yet autistic individuals sometimes have a special and dramatically developed systemizing skill, such as knowing in an instant what day of the week it was on May 17, 1184."
So, I am primarily a Director, with High Testosterone, and I have Asperger’s. In terms of a mate, I will still be most compatible with a Negotiator. For my secondary personality, I am an explorer, so I would do best with a mate who also had this as a trait. Ideally, I would find a Negotiator – Explorer. I want you to note in the above section, “systemizing skill.” It will occur again in the discussion of Director – they are systemizers.
A Little about the Explorer in Me
I am not sure how the Explorer interplays with having Asperger’s, but it does seem like it would be adding another layer of “wild ride” to someone already primed to have a tumultuous life. Let me give you some of the information about the Explorer.
"Explorers express a constellation of related traits. They are intensely curious and unusually creative. They are restless, energetic and spontaneous, often impulsive. They are willing to risk a great deal to pursue their many interests, and they get bored easily when not absorbed in something that intrigues them. They tend to be optimistic, irreverent and autonomous. Explorers are adaptable; they can play many different roles. Most are liberal in their political views, flexible in their personal lives and generous with their money, time and ideas. And Explorers crave novelty.1"
Footnote from above:
1. Three of the most researched personality tests, the NEO-PI (chapter 3, footnote 2), the MBTI (chapter 3, footnote 3) and the TPQ, have recorded aspects of this personality scale, the Explorer. The NEO-PI refers to this factor as “openness to experience.” It reports that these individuals are intellectually curious, have a wide range of interests and are open to new ideas, new theories and new intellectual and/or physical adventures. These people are flexible, adaptable, tolerant, open-minded, liberal, spontaneous, imaginative and emotional (NEO PI-R Form S; Gosling et al. 2003; McCrae and Costa 1990; Zentner 2005; McCrae 1987). The MBTI Form M reports that these men and women (the Perceiving type) collect facts, data and ideas (Quenk 2000); they are original, unconventional, curious and creative (Keirsey 1998). They also gravitate to words like unplanned, casual, unconstrained and easygoing and want to “go with the flow,” do things “on the spur of the moment” and “be free to do whatever looks like fun” (MBTI Form M). The Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ) (Cloninger 1987) measures three major, heritable personality dimensions: harm avoidance, reward dependence and novelty seeking. Novelty seeking is a core trait of the Explorer, while harm avoidance is a core trait of the Builder."
"This sensation-seeking disposition is largely inherited. In fact, some of the contributing genes involved have been discovered. A gene labeled DRD4 controls much of the dopamine activity in brain regions used for thinking, feeling and motivation. And a specific version of this gene is associated with several varieties of novelty seeking. Old or young; male or female; rich or poor; educated in the ivory tower or on the mean streets: people who have inherited this gene in the dopamine system have an appetite for variety. Dopamine acts in tandem with several other chemicals, of course, including the closely related norepinephrine and lesser players such as testosterone and serotonin.2 So if you are describing yourself on a dating site or in the personals and hope to impress a doctor or endocrinologist, you might compose your essay thus: 'I am a ——-year-old female/male with elevated activity in the mesolimbic dopamine system; low MAOb on my blood platelets; high circulating testosterone; low serotonin in many limbic regions; and low norepinephrine in my cerebrospinal fluid.'"
Note from above:
"2. Two enzymes are involved in sensation seeking, remembered by their acronyms COMT and MAO; these enzymes break down dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. A tiny variation in the COMT gene is associated with seeking novelty (Drabant et al. 2006). MAO comes in two varieties: MAOa regulates norepinephrine and serotonin; MAOb controls dopamine. Variations in both systems can contribute to sensation seeking (Zuckerman 1994; Johansson et al. 1983; Meyer-Lindenberg et al. 2006; Sostek et al. 1981). Elevated activity of testosterone may play a role in sensation seeking because testosterone lowers MAO levels in the brain, thereby raising the impact of dopamine (Zuckerman 1994). Testosterone contributes to some aspects of novelty seeking, particularly the craving for action adventure and unusual sexual experiences, wild parties and illegal drugs (Zuckerman 1994). Sensation seekers have lower levels of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine activates when you experience any kind of novelty, enabling you to focus your attention, and sensation seekers may seek arousing stimuli to trigger this chemical system and thus alleviate monotony (Zuckerman 1994). Sensation seeking and impulsivity both have been associated with an underactive serotonin system as well (Zuckerman 1994; Manuck et al. 2000). This is to be expected because elevated dopamine activity suppresses serotonin circuits and serotonin activity suppresses dopamine (Stahl 2000)."
Now, this is just an observation on my part, but High Testosterone is associated with Directors, even higher Testosterone is associated with Autism (thus you would expect that many Directors have Autism), AND the high testosterone lowers the levels of an enzyme that regulates the hormones norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Wow! What that Testosterone can do! It would seem to me that the Director – Explorer, and Explorer – Director would be common Primary/Secondary personalities.
Something about the Director
"Systemizing is the propensity to construct and analyze systems, from building bridges or fixing motorcycles to studying the ecology of a pond. Empathizing is the ability to identify with and respond appropriately to another’s thoughts and feelings; empathetic people are intuitive and compassionate. Baron-Cohen further maintains that systemizers express more testosterone and are largely men, while empathizers express more estrogen and are more often women. But as he says, some men and women are equally proficient at both empathizing and systemizing; and some women excel at systemizing, while some men excel at empathizing.”
“As testosterone washes over the fetal brain, it builds the brain architecture for this systemizing ability. Meanwhile, surges of fetal estrogen begin to construct the brain anatomy for empathizing. Levels of both fetal testosterone and fetal estrogen swell and recede in patterns that are inherited. So, depending on the hand you’re dealt, you will express predominantly testosterone, predominantly estrogen, or a lot or a little of both—thus predisposing you to be better at systemizing, at empathizing, or good or bad at both.1
Testosterone leaves its mark in many ways. Take a look at your right hand, palm up. The more testosterone you were exposed to in the womb, the longer your fourth or ring finger will be in relation to your second or pointing finger. If you were exposed to more estrogen, these two fingers will be the same length, or your pointing finger will be longer than your ring finger. Once again, this is exactly what my Personality Type Study showed: Directors tended to have a longer ring finger, while Negotiators had a ring finger that was the same length as or shorter than their index finger."
Footnote from above:
"1. The environment in the womb can change the balance of these fetal hormones. Some males are exposed to more estrogen in the womb, coming from the placenta and their mother’s blood; some females are exposed to more testosterone from their mother’s adrenal glands. These phenomena affect digit ratio and the degree to which one expresses personality traits associated with testosterone and estrogen."
"Not all adult Directors receive this surge of testosterone in the womb. So if you are a Director and don’t have a longer fourth finger, it simply means that you were flooded with testosterone at a later time in life, most likely at puberty.2 One way or another, testosterone primes Directors to systemize, as well as excel at many other things."
Footnote from above:
"2. During their lifetime, women produce small amounts of testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands, while men produce small amounts of estrogen in their testes and fat cells. With the enzyme aromatase, men also convert testosterone into estrogen. The bodily ratios of testosterone and estrogen change with daily, monthly and life-cycle rhythms. Puberty, the aging process and menopause all affect one’s bodily ratios of estrogen and testosterone. Cultural circumstances also affect this balance. For example, testosterone is decreased in a man when he enters a pair-bond with a woman (Shur et al. 2008). Moreover, paternal behavior elevates estrogen (aromatized from testosterone and/or produced in the testes), which in turn stimulates the production of prolactin in the pituitary and thus decreases the activity."
"A spinoff of the Director’s unusually logical and focused mind seems to be a penchant to be outspoken and blunt—as I discovered in my Personality Type Study. Only Directors were highly enthusiastic about the statement “I like to avoid the nuances and say exactly what I mean.” They also stood out in their positive response to the statement “I think it is important to be direct.” Indeed, men and women who express high testosterone activity are less likely to strive to be polite, respectful, considerate or friendly. As Einstein once said, he had a hard time keeping “my big mouth shut.”
Like Einstein, many Directors are abysmal at meandering social chitchat. Wasting words, repeating the obvious—it all seems pointless to them."
"In conjunction with their analytical, focused and direct approach, Directors are pragmatic. Respect for hallowed ways and social or political correctness irritate Directors. If they are forced to observe a tradition that makes no sense to them, they do it—grudgingly. Where Explorers are generous, Builders stoical and Negotiators altruistic, Directors are practical."
"Directors can be ingenious at solving problems. Resourcefulness is as important to them as adventure is to the Explorer, loyalty is to the Builder and empathy is to the Negotiator.”
"Einstein was self-confident and bold, like many Directors. As long as Directors know the essential facts and are satisfied with the reasoning behind the plan, they feel secure. Then they act, boldly."
"Directors can tolerate extreme isolation, long hours at the desk and many other discomforts when they work. But they must pursue their goals and solve their problems on their own. Directors demand autonomy—another trait tied to testosterone priming in the womb.
Einstein was highly independent. In a letter to a friend, he wrote, ‘A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.’ And to a lover he remarked, ‘Long live impudence! It is my guardian angel in this world.’"
"During business meetings high-testosterone men are likely to break a silence to seize the floor, then deliver a “take charge” speech. They often attack with words. And they take coworkers more seriously when they argue back. As a colleague speaks louder, they do, too, triggering a spiral of dominance matching that sometimes ends in a shouting match."
"Directors can be ruthless on themselves."
“And Directors spend their spare time with those who share their thirst for knowledge. Only Directors reported that they socialized largely with “intellectuals.” Moreover, in my Word Type Study, the words Directors used most often when describing what they were looking for in a partner were intelligent and intelligence.”
Testosterone correlates negatively with socialization. Infants exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb make less eye contact and have a smaller vocabulary; by age four they also show less social savvy and begin to develop fewer—yet deeper—interests. Be it the naval battles of World War II, the life of Michelangelo, the evolution of the mammalian or the latest strategies in chess, Directors need to know every last detail about their particular field of interest. And they don’t suffer fools gladly."
As a note, man does this describe me! I do NOT suffer fools well at all.
“'The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities,’ wrote Sophocles. Indeed, we bring many of our troubles upon ourselves.
Take the Director’s emotional containment. There is a flip side to this propensity: emotional flooding. Despite their earnest efforts at self-control, high-testosterone men and women tend to have trouble containing their emotions. Directors are particularly susceptible to anger, exploding into a generalized rage when they feel hurt, disappointed or frustrated. In short, they “lose it.” A pounding heart; tense muscles; sweating; shallow breathing; skyrocketing blood pressure; a burst of adrenaline and the stress hormones—the Director’s entire body gets ready to fight or flee. Many lash out, too: scowling, screaming, even hitting. They can become swamped by what poet T. S. Eliot called ‘undisciplined squads of emotion.'"
"Individuals with a great deal of fetal testosterone also tend to be less skilled at recognizing emotions and less sensitive to the feelings of others. Affiliated with mind blindness, these people aren’t able to judge what others are thinking or feeling. They can lack empathy, too, and become aloof and impersonal, even cold. In fact, Galen called these men and women “phlegmatic,” largely because they were often distant and detached.
Moreover, scientists believe that an extreme overload of prenatal testosterone can contribute to autism and related syndromes. Severely autistic boys and girls make little or no eye contact with others, nor do they express compassion or even the slightest awareness of the feelings of others. Yet autistic individuals sometimes have a special and dramatically developed systemizing skill, such as knowing in an instant what day of the week it was on May 17, 1184."
“Despite these possible problems, most Directors remain healthy and have many wonderful traits. With their gift for logic and reasoning, they can ignore the quotidian demands of life and concentrate on its challenges and mysteries. And with their bold spirit and penetrating focus, Directors can become intellectual geniuses, fine sportsmen and exciting friends and lovers. As Einstein said on his deathbed, “It is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” He had high standards to the end. Semper ad astra: always to the stars. I have often gazed at this inscription on my mother’s family crest and wondered who chose this motto in sixteenth-century Holland. It was surely a Director, for it captures the heart and soul of these men and women. Directors shoot for the stars."
-PP. 101-102, “Why Him, Why Her”