Learn how to profile people

How To Read People Like an FBI Profiler

Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS on May 17, 2016

What do you make of a neighbor who’s married, has kids, dresses in a suit daily, rarely misses a day of work, has a well-groomed lawn and a tidy home, is friendly and polite, always asks about your day and your children, and even shovels your snow when you’re out of town? Most people would think this is the best neighbor on the block.

So you may be surprised to learn that this very neighbor “was a sexual sadist who was using a small trailer in this backyard as a torture chamber,” write Mary Ellen O’Toole and Alisa Bowman in their book Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. O’Toole, a retired FBI profiler, worked the case and interviewed the 60-year-old park ranger David Parker Ray, who appeared charming and even seemed to admire women. As it turned out, he’d been torturing women in his backyard for years, and none of his neighbors ever suspected him to be anything but a “regular guy.

When we try to determine whether someone is a good person or a potential threat, we tend to focus on superficial qualities that actually don’t tell us much about the individual. We assume that people who go to work every day, have a family and a well-kept home are normal—and we give them a lot of credibility, O’Toole said.

We also assume that our bodies will warn us when we’re around someone dangerous. We’ll experience the sensations of fear and know to stay away. But as O’Toole said, dangerous people have a way of making us feel very comfortable. For instance, they’re friendly and courteous and make good eye contact. When O’Toole first saw David Parker Ray, he took her hand and told her how nice it was to meet her. He also was polite and well-mannered. Even O’Toole, who’s worked on the most notorious criminal cases, had to keep reminding herself of his heinous crimes.

What also complicates our ability to read people accurately is that many of us aren’t good listeners. The best way to tell if someone is dangerous is by observing their behavior, O’Toole said. That’s what FBI profilers do. “In order to be a good reader of behavior, you have to watch and listen,” O’Toole said. But if you’re too busy talking the whole time, you may miss key pieces of information.

We also tend to admire and even get intimidated by people in certain professions and positions, which additionally hampers our judgment. O’Toole calls this “icon-intimidation.” We automatically give people a pass if they’re a religious figure, police officer or military person. We assign admirable qualities to them without much thought. We assume they’re intelligent, courageous, compassionate and thereby harmless.

O’Toole gave the example of a recent case in Washington D.C. The area offers a free carpooling service called Slugging, where people give strangers a ride into the city. Last year two commuters got into a pricey car with a retired high-ranking military officer. After they got in, he started driving 90 mph. The people were terrified and insisted on being let out of the car. Once out, one of the people tried to take a picture of his license plate. He tried to run them over.

When reading others, people also “are clouded by their own emotional state,” O’Toole said. Being depressed or just losing a loved one puts you in a vulnerable state when someone offers to do something nice for you, she said.

In our society, we also hold onto many myths that put us in danger. O’Toole calls one of the most common myths “the myth of the straggly-haired stranger.” That is, we think that dangerous people look creepy, unkempt, are unemployed and uneducated and basically stick out like sore thumbs. So we overlook people who may be incredibly dangerous because they look like the rest of us.

Another myth is that good people just snap and act violently, O’Toole said. However, individuals who “snap” already have traits that predispose them to violence, such as a short fuse or physical aggression. It’s more likely, she added, that people minimize the presence of these red flags and that’s why it seems so unexpected.

In fact, it’s common for people to minimize danger in general. We may choose to ignore certain patterns of behavior, rationalize them, explain them away or talk ourselves out of taking action, O’Toole said. Take the example of a couple where one partner becomes increasingly obsessive and jealous (and even physically abusive), which O’Toole commonly sees as a consultant to schools and universities. The young woman wants to end the relationship, but she’s afraid of him. He has many good friends, plays competitive sports and comes from a well-to-do family. She doesn’t want to get him in trouble and worries that their friends will hate her. So the parents decide to deal with the situation on their own. They underestimate the danger. But these are criminal behaviors and they don’t just begin in young adulthood, O’Toole said. It’s likely he’s done similar things with other girls and has other concerning traits. Just getting your daughter out of this situation is not enough, and it “could cause your daughter to lose her life.”

Red Flags When Reading People

Again, reading people accurately means going beyond superficial traits and observing their behaviors. According to O’Toole, these are several red flags of concerning or dangerous actions.

They anger easily or talk about violence.

A person who has a short fuse in one situation will usually have it in another. For instance, if a person has road rage, it’s a good indicator that they also have anger problems outside the car, O’Toole said. Another red flag is if they think that “violence is the answer to everything no matter what they’re talking about.”

They are physically aggressive or abusive to others.

Has the person ever been physically aggressive with you or others? How do they treat staff or servers at a restaurant? If they mistreat others or act like a bully, this likely spills over into other areas of their life, O’Toole said.

They tend to blame others.

Let’s say you’re on your first or second date with a person, and they mention their past relationships. They not only have nothing good to say about their previous partners, but they blame them for everything, she said.

They lack empathy or compassion.

O’Toole views a lack of empathy and compassion as important indicators of someone’s character and their dangerousness. You can identify whether someone is empathetic or compassionate in a simple conversation, and in as little as 10 minutes, O’Toole said. These individuals highjack conversations by interrupting and refocusing the talk back to them.

Again, take the example of a blind date. The person not only blames their past partners for everything, but they may speak harshly about them or even make fun of their physical appearance, O’Toole said.

Psychopaths, who make up about one percent of the general population and 10 percent of prisoners, also lack empathy (among meeting other criteria). They may pretend as though they care, empathize and have feelings for their victims. But, as O’Toole and Bowman write in Dangerous Instincts, “Asking a psychopath what remorse or guilt feels like is like asking a man what it feels like to be pregnant. It is an experience they have never had.” If you keep asking a psychopath about their feelings (such as “How do you feel about those victims?”), they’ll become irritated, and their façade will start to crack, O’Toole said. For psychopaths, “emotions are a pain in their rear end.” They see them as problems, not something worth having.

Reading people accurately isn’t a gift; it’s a skill that anyone can master if they start paying attention to the right things.

Personality Profiling People Explained How To Profile People

What is a personality profile

Personality profiling has been in common use for over sixty years. In this article we will describe what a personality profiler is, what it isn’t and how you can use it in your business or your life.

Sometimes referred to as psychometric testing or psychological profiling – is a means of measuring an individual’s personality in a particular situation. It is not a measure of intelligence or ability – but of behaviour.

Personality Profiler at Work

You can use a profiler in a number of ways at your work. For over fifty years it has been commonly used in;

  • Recruitment
  • Staff Appraisals
  • Coaching and Development
  • Team Development



Personality Profiling In Coaching

Do you coach? Profiling has been described as the bedrock of all personal development. Difficult to imagine any journey of personal development that didn’t involve some form of introspection or deeper understanding of self.

For many years we have seen coaches use personality reports to help their clients understand themselves. It can be a little counter intuitive to consider that an individual does not understand themselves, however twenty years of experience has taught me that our self awareness is very ill informed.

Personality Profiling Test for Recruitment

Are you recruiting? Then you should know that there are some types that will thrive in the role you have and there are some that will struggle. This is regardless of their qualifications or experience. An individual’s personality type will determine how they cope with the particular work environment you offer.

Ideally you want to hire “Naturals” over “Forced Fits”.

A “Natural” will find your work environment compatible with their profile. They will have more opportunity to work to their natural strengths. “Naturals” will stick the job longer and perform better.

“Forced Fits” will always struggle with your work environment. They have to invest a lot of energy just to cope with your environment. This is why PeopleMaps developed the Success Profile Builder. This helps you determine what your work environment is and which types are most likely to cope with it.

A Personality Profiling Test can really help you hire “Natural”


Employee Personality Testing

Employee personality testing is commonly used to help line managers understand their employees. A better understanding of a staff member can help a line manager support them. And when it comes to coaching, managers will make fewer mistakes and get their message across more easily if they understand more about the personality of the staff member they are coaching.

How To Profile People

So one of the most common things people want to know is “how to profile people”. The hard way to do it is to try and do it manually and develop a system, which is a combination of a questionnaire and an algorithm, that produces a result.

However, the practical way to profile people is to use one of the established systems. It takes years of refinement and development to produce a profiler that can be relied upon. PeopleMaps spent millions and almost twenty years developing its profiler. I would have a long look at any system that tool less than that.

If you want to know how to profile someone like the FBI, then you need to look at a very different school as this is not something covered in this article.

What is The Best Personality Test?

You can read more about how to evaluate a profiling tool and discover what’s the best personality test for your application.

Personality Profiling Tools

There are many personality profiling tools on the market, so what should you be looking for to ensure you buy the right one. Make sure it has some longevity. It takes years to refine a system to produce repeatable results. Make sure it is designed for your application.

Reports come in a myriad of formats, so make sure you get one that suits your need. Make sure it has been designed to be used over the internet. There are some old clunky systems out there that you are best to avoid. Make sure the questionnaire is quick and accurate. Find out who the psychologist is behind it.

Personality Profiling Books

There are lots of books on the subject. However you may want to start by reading some Jung.

Personality profiling for jobs

Job hunters are prolific users of personality profiling,m which is why PeopleMaps has always provided a free personality report for job seekers. For many this is the first time they come across psychology and it is often the beginning of a lifetime’s interest. Certainly Jung spent a lifetime in introspection trying to discover the true self. Profiling human behavior is a most fascinating science.

Personality Profiling in Practice

People are complex. The environment and other people can influence behaviour change on a regular basis. Behaviour has reasons, not causes – and if we understand the reasons why, we become increasingly empowered.

Psychological type gives a snapshot of the preferred behaviour that comes almost unconsciously to most people. This is the behaviour that they are comfortable with and can sustain for long periods of time.

It is worth noting that people can be versatile and can change, as the behaviour they are comfortable with will almost certainly not be suitable for every eventuality. People are often asked to “think and act outside the box” – in these situations they need to be confident that they can do this.

Personality Profiling Test or Questionnaire

A Personality profiling test can provide a snapshot view of the preferred behaviour that comes subconsciously to most people. This is the behaviour with which they are ‘comfortable’ and can sustain for long periods of time. This behaviour is social and intellectual – not physical.

The means by which this behaviour is measured is a questionnaire which asks the visitor to choose behaviour most and least like them. The results from this questionnaire provide a profile of the respondent.

The questionnaire is not a test – as there can be no right or wrong answer to psychological type. It is an evaluation of the individual’s habitual or typical way of dealing with the world.

There are as many definitions of ‘personality’ as there are famous psychologists, however, one very notable pioneer in this field was Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. His theories are widely used in the corporate testing arena and underpin the PeopleMaps personality profiler. You can also read about Jung here.

A Personality Profile Will Tell You That People are versatile

We all have the ability to access the range of Jung’s bipolar scales. If our preferred attitude is for introversion we need to be aware that if extroversion is called for we can use this too. We will be less comfortable using it, as we have had less practice – and because of this we will possibly be slower, as we need to think about what we do rather than do it on automatic pilot. This may be a hidden blessing.

If we normally write with our right hand and injured this hand in an accident, we would be required to learn how to write with the left hand. This would be uncomfortable and slow until we did it often enough for it to become as automatic as using our preferred hand. It is exactly the same with the bi-polar scales – we have the ability to use the range but our preference for one/our way will make us lazy about learning another until forced into it.

If we brought this thought with us to team working we would discover that we were a whole lot more adaptable than we originally thought. Not only adaptable – but we could put ourselves in the other person’s shoes more easily and try them on for size. It would not be quick but it could be done, and with some great results ensuing.

A Personality Profiler could be referring to the person who is conducting the assessment or to the software that they are using. PeopleMaps is a personality profiler.

A list of personality types

If you are looking for a list of personality types, then I have to disappoint. Jung believed that we are all unique, something that is often forgotten by most profiling systems. It is the limitation of the systems that has created the very narrow band of types that we so often hear about.

The benefits of personality profiling

Human behaviour is probabilistic not deterministic. Using the profiles may tell us how people will probably respond to their environment. It will also help with the individual’s development, choice of job role and their best fit within the environment. It provides a starting point or compass to get the best out of a most expensive and valuable resource.

One of the greatest benefits in using profiling is surely that of development and team working. It provides a useful aid for recruitment when used as part of an overall process, but it is worth noting that twenty five percent of the recruitment process should be underpinned by a psychological profile – the other seventy five percent should be made up of interview, past experience/CV and qualifications.

The psychological profile designed by PeopleMaps was primarily for the purpose of development. The original target market was individuals who were trying to gain better self-understanding, to identify the career that would give them greatest satisfaction, and to help them promote their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

Organisations are looking for exactly the same information about the people they employ. Vast sums of money are spent on development but very little of it is targeted uniquely to an individual’s greatest needs. By providing a profile that acts as a compass identifying how best to understand each individual, employers will be able to target more cost effectively and provide solutions that will help satisfy and retain their employees.

But psychological profiling need not be limited to career applications – and with the PeopleMaps Control Room it isn’t! Our library of personality content covers a full range of behaviour that is influenced by personality. From subjects dealing with recruitment to management to development – you can be sure we’ve got it covered. You can read more about Carl Jung Psychology and personality profiling here.

Profiling technologies: checking “for lice”

Aleksey Filatov “Psychodiagnostics. How to understand people and predict their behavior. Moscow: AST, 2019 Most of life's difficulties, troubles and conflicts arise against the background of mutual misunderstanding between partners. The ability to hear and understand each other allows not only to solve interpersonal problems and set up effective interaction, but also to predict and prevent possible difficulties in advance.

Profiling is a practical “people reading” technique that allows you to quickly read a person’s personal characteristics and habits, values, motives and beliefs, as well as predict his behavior in a context or situation of interest to you.

Profiling tools were first used by special services to solve the problems of compiling a psychological portrait of a criminal and predicting his future behavior. However, profiling has now become more widely used and is actively used in cases where a quick assessment of the personality and its main characteristics is required for the applied use of this knowledge in order to build effective communication.

Profiling a person is carried out on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of his verbal and non-verbal behavior, which, with proper preparation, allows you to make a detailed psychological portrait of a person that fully reflects all the most important aspects of his personality. This book is dedicated to how to learn how to correctly create such a portrait, understand people, predict their behavior and skillfully use this knowledge in communicating with them. For your purposes.

Applied profiling technologies are successfully used where we encounter the "human factor" - in personnel work: consulting, management, evaluation, training and development of personnel; in business communication - sales, negotiations and presentations; in public relations and mass communications, in building relationships and family life.

Knowing the psychological profile allows you to find an individual approach to each person and provides tools to influence his behavior, motivation and priorities. Profiling provides significant assistance in assessing the business and personal qualities of partners, their trustworthiness and loyalty, true motives and plans. The importance of such information cannot be overestimated, since it will allow not only to avoid unnecessary mistakes and disappointments, but also at the very beginning to clearly understand the prospects for cooperation with a particular partner. Success in business largely depends on how you know how to establish partnership contact with the person you are interested in. Agree that a business person who is well versed in people and who knows how to understand and predict their actions in advance, of course, in his practical work will have significant advantages over the rest.

No less important is the direction of profiling, focused on the study of individual psychological compatibility of people and entire teams. Friendly or closer relationships between people always need special attention and understanding, because they sometimes bring so much trouble and pleasure. At the same time, close relationships will inevitably end if their parties stop hearing and understanding each other. With the help of profiling tools, you can not only save your personal relationships from quarrels and misunderstandings, but also get much more satisfaction from them than before.

Profiling technologies can also be directed not only at the people around you, but also at yourself. Over the years of practice, we have encountered hundreds of times people who could not understand themselves at all! This means not only that they do not know their strengths and weaknesses, but also that sometimes they do not even understand the reasons for their actions, and therefore their own life priorities. Psychology says that at some point this will lead to a personal crisis, loss of interest in life and disappointment in everything.

On the other hand, the ability to understand oneself, one's character, habits, priorities and goals, as well as to know how to influence this, can be a significant help in forming one's own correct and effective life strategies.

In conclusion, we will once again emphasize the broad application of profiling in business communication. Knowledge of profiling will help increase the effectiveness of business communication with partners, personal communication with loved ones, but also better understand your own motives and differences.

Thus, profiling's ideological attitudes are perfectly described by the immortal phrase of the great Chinese commander Sun Tzu: “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win hundreds of battles without a single defeat. If you only know yourself but don't know your opponent, you can either win or be defeated. If you do not know yourself or your enemy, you will always create dangers for yourself.”

And now it's time to get to know each other better.

Profiling Toolkit

Profiling is a well-structured discipline with its own tools and technologies. The quality of using these tools largely depends on two things - observation and the ability to draw conclusions from the information collected.

Since in profiling information about a person is most often collected in the course of direct communication with him, a profiler - a person who performs profiling, must be very attentive to the external manifestations and actions of his communication partners. However, by itself, information about how the person you are interested in behaves where you already communicate with him can give you little if you are not able to make predictions on his behavior in the situation you are interested in based on this information.

So, in general, the whole profiling toolkit can be divided into three components:

  • Evaluation of non-verbal behavior of a person.
  • Assessment of human verbal behavior.
  • Evaluation of the features of the context in which it occurs; profiling and the factors influencing it.

To make a profile of a person, it will be quite enough for a profiler to analyze the verbal and non-verbal behavior of the person being studied. A full profile reveals information about almost all aspects of life and contains the following information:

  • Individual habits of thinking, behavior and perception of information with a prediction of his behavior in significant contexts and situations.
  • List of basic personal qualities and values ​​relevant to him.
  • Emotional profile of a person - which events will emotionally hurt him, and which ones will not. What “clings” him and “rocks” him to emotions? In what emotional experiences is he more inclined to immerse himself? What are his "working" emotional states?
  • A detailed description of the picture of the world of a person and his beliefs. What does he believe and what does he doubt? Basic beliefs and prejudices that influence his daily activities and interests.
  • His current goals and habitual ways to achieve them. What are his true goals and do they differ from the declared ones?
  • Habitual strategies of lying and hiding information. How does a person deceive others and is he deceiving you?
  • Features of a person's character, his main and secondary properties. What is he really like and how is it presented in society? His main intrapersonal conflicts and complexes, as well as how and where they manifest themselves.
  • Habitual ways of making decisions, learning, self-motivation and creativity. How will he behave in conflict situations?
  • Leading strategies for creating and maintaining personal and professional relationships.
  • Level of loyalty and risk factors. How loyal is he to the system in which he exists, and what needs to be done to make him leave it?
  • Prospects for his professional activities in the area of ​​interest to you. Professional potential and career prospects.

As we can see, the list is quite long and reflects a wide range of issues that may be of interest to a person. Nevertheless, thinking about their loved ones, almost everyone asked themselves questions from this list and answered them by virtue of their own experience and competence. Now, with profiling technologies, your answers to these questions will be complete and accurate.

Photo: proprofiling.com

Profiling, intensive profiling course in Kirov — Navigator Kirov

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Learn the technique of reading people and interact effectively with everyone

Profiling comes from the English word profile (“profile”) and can be translated as “profiling”. In fact, this means that a person determines the signs of behavior, emotional response, speech and appearance in those around him. These signs were initially set by the profiling model, and their identification allows, with a high degree of probability, to establish the type of person, and then refine it and supplement it with some psychological characteristics.

As a result, a profiler (a person using profiling methods) can calculate the likely behavior of a particular person in situations of interest, and also understand how to influence him most effectively.

As a result, the profiler, after conducting a quick but detailed analysis of a person's behavior, his emotional manifestations, speech, thinking style, facial expressions and pantomime, as well as appearance, receives his detailed psychological profile. And already on this profile, you can get an idea of ​​personal characteristics, such as interaction with others, role models, motivation, values ​​and beliefs, character and temperament, etc. In general, all this makes it possible to predict the actions of other people, to establish their preferences and inclinations in various areas of life, and to obtain a lot of other useful information.

A 16-hour profiling training is available in Kirov on November 17-18.

This knowledge will be useful to EVERYONE. And they are especially useful for those whose activities are directly related to communications:

managers, managers, entrepreneurs to manage employee motivation, select reliable business partners, strengthen team spirit in the team;
HR managers to select employees with optimal qualities for a specific position;
sales managers and consultants to develop an effective sales strategy and deep understanding of their customers;
advertising managers, SMM specialists - for in-depth analysis of the target audience, and development of advertising campaigns based on the psychological portrait of the audience;
lawyers and lawyers to understand the motives of clients, diagnose lies and effectively protect their interests;
parents and spouses to determine the potential and direction of development of their children and harmonize family relationships.

What you will learn at the training:

quickly draw up a psychological profile of a person - assess behavioral characteristics in 30 seconds, use this data in personal and business communications;
identify and verify lies - learn to see the signs of lies of your colleagues and loved ones;
consciously build effective communication management;
analyze a person on social networks, photo and video materials with a person;
learn methods of adjustment and maladaptation in negotiations.

Learn more