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Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You Paperback – May 12, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"Gosling's work, reminiscent of Martha Stout's "The Sociopath Next Door" in its vivid, true-to-life portraits of people and places, is a unique blend of scholarly research and accessible vignettes. Expect future books from this young scholar, whose storytelling skills prove he's capable of bridging the gap between ivory-tower dwellers and street denizens."-"Library Journal," starred review "Gosling, a psychology professor, shows us how the bits and pieces of our everyday lives can reveal more than we ever imagined. Did you know that the stuff you keep on your desk can tell a shrewd observer not just your likes and dislikes, but also your political leanings, your sexual interests, your fears, even your secret self-image (as opposed to the version of yourself you present to the world)?"-"Booklist" "The basic premise behind "Snoop" is that you can tell an awful lot about a person based on their apartment; their work space; their favorite music; their style of dress - even their trash. (Gosling approvingly quotes Ward Harrison, a professional scavenger who made a career rummaging through the trash of celebs, who once said, "Garbage is a window into the soul.") This thesis puts "Snoop" firmly in "Blink" or "Freakonomics" territory."-"New York Post"

About the Author

Sam Gosling, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Psychology Today, on NPR, Nightline, and Good Morning America, and his research is featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology. He lives in Austin, Texas.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465013821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
About: University of Texas at Austin psychology professor Gosling fancies himself a "snoopologist" and studies how people's belongings exhibit their personalities. While he believes belongings give clues to personality, he notes that it does not work for all folks in all situations. Personality is defined as "An individual's unique pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that is consistent over time." (pg 28). Gosling uses the Big 5 personality traits (Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) to further break down the personalities he describes in the book and spends quite a bit of time going over the basics of these 5 traits.Read more ›
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Dean Backus on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Sam Gosling's book is an anti-materialist's nightmare--or is it? In a time when many are advocating that we "purge" our possessions and live "simpler" lives, "Snoop" is an amusing, clever, and occasionally unnerving brain teaser. It posits that we are, in fact, our stuff, and everything we wear, hang, collect, listen to, display, etc. says something revealing about us. (Even the way people arrange pictures in an office--facing a guest so as to impress, or facing the owner to provide reassurance/emotional nurturance--is significant.) Occasionally the book gets fairly scientific when measuring various psychological qualities (Neuroticism, Openness, etc.), but it's nothing that will throw anyone who's ever taken a Meyers-Briggs test. Gosling also analyzes "hoarders" and "emotional narcissists" who never throw anything away, and his conclusions are thought-provoking. And the charts analyzing different music listeners (gospel, rap, rock, etc.), and folks' stereotypes about these people based on their music choices, are real eye-openers. If anything, the book is too short; another chapter or two would've been pure gravy, especially if it dealt with the current trend of disposability, or "renting" rather than owning (as in people who only take CD's or DVD's out from the library rather than buying them). Some may also find the tone a bit facile, though I thought it was funny and clever (especially a chapter entitled "Knowing Me Knowing You" with several pointed ABBA jokes). Still, after I read this book, I couldn't walk into any room in my home without casting a critical eye at the art, the knick-knacks, the books, etc. It's the sort of book that may genuinely change the way you see yourself, as well as the world around you.
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76 of 86 people found the following review helpful By MicheleEdel on July 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy pop psychology books but I found this book a little tedious and droning at times. Some thoughts were interesting, such as identifiers being geared to influence the opinion of others versus to reassure yourself, but because the test subjects were nearly all college students I, as a person over 40, didn't find much of interest for the world that I inhabit. The author did not acknowledge that college students and that time in a person's life is unlike the bulk of an average person's existence. College and young adulthood is a time of trying out new identities, supporting causes, and learning about new social ideals, and few demands made on your time by children, aging parents, and spouses. So while it's interesting to hear about how young adults decorate their dorm rooms and how that reflects their personality it would be more interesting (to me) to visit people out of the academic milieu and learn how to make educated guesses about their personalities.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth on June 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm fascinated by objects people own and what those objects say about that person. For example, my co-worker's office is crammed with Barbie dolls, teddy bears, free McDonald happy meal toys, and various other toys. You'd think someone surrounded by such playful objects would have a playful personality to match, but she's actually quite serious and rarely smiles. This contrast has activated my imagination, making me wonder if she grew up too fast and these toys are her way of recreating a childhood she wasn't allowed.

I've searched for books that would dissect the meaning behind objects people own, but only found books on body language that barely mentioned objects. When I found this book devoted to just objects, I couldn't wait to read it.

There were some interesting tidbits in here. Most interesting was the section on the Big 5 Personality Profiles and the True Home, although the True Home didn't really fit the focus of the book.

Overall, though, the book was disorganized. For example, the chapters had clever titles like "An Office and a Gentlemen" and "Less than Zero Acquaintance", but it would've been more helpful had the chapters been divided by room (like kitchen or bathroom) or place (like home or car). Since they weren't, and these points are randomly spread around, it was hard to locate a point I wanted to reread.

I also thought the author spent too long on some subjects that were uninteresting or irrelevant, so reading became tedious at times. And this is a subject I find fascinating.

Also frustrating was the author not committing to a meaning behind an object. He'd say this object could mean this, or it could mean that, or it may not mean any of these things.
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