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Sizing People Up

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Sizing People Up

A Veteran FBI Agent’s User Manual for Behavior Prediction


15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Robin Dreeke, former head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program, offers clues and a system for predicting people’s behavior.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening


Have you ever found yourself blindsided by someone’s actions – a lie, a breach of trust, a betrayal, a fraud? You may have lamented you should have seen it coming. As it turns out, you can learn how. Robin Dreeke, former head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program, lays out the factors that indicate predictability. Writing with journalist Cameron Stauth, Dreeke uses stories from his career as an agent and provides a thorough, analytical picture. You will benefit from his behavioral analysis methods – if you can cultivate the mind-set to leverage them.


You can learn to evaluate people’s behavior for predictability and trustworthiness.

At some point or other, almost everyone falls victim to someone else’s aggrieving behavior. Intuition is not reliable. Trusting is perilous, but not trusting can be even more precarious. If you accurately predict people’s behavior, you can trust them appropriately.

You can learn to assess character, traits and abilities objectively and rationally so you can adjust your expectations and behavior accordingly. This is not about using observation and data to predict what a person will do. Most people act in alignment with their self-interest, so determine what that is. When someone tells you what they want, listen. To arrive at reliable predictions about people’s behavior, collect objective information rationally, systematically and unemotionally. Cultivate stoic courage and empathy – “stempathy” – to understand people’s behavior.

Learn the “code of trust” so you can inspire others to trust you and recognize when someone is worthy of your trust: Trustworthy people are humble. They focus attention on others, listen, learn others’ motivations and concerns, and validate others’ feelings...

About the Authors

After serving in the US Marine Corps, Robin Dreeke joined the FBI and became an expert in social and behavioral psychology. Cameron Stauth is an author and journalist.

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