Who Are You, Really? – Brian Little

Couverture de Who Are You, Really?

Audible Audio-book
  • Title: Who Are You, Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality

  • Author: Brian R. Little, PhD
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5

Book Review

Who are you, really? Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Are you compassionate or rather detached? What defines your personality traits? Can you change your character?

The book “Who are you, really?” provides insights about the personality traits based on latest psychological studies. The good news is: you are not destined to have a certain character, you can change your personality traits. How? By pursuing your personal projects, you define who you are. In other words, the well-doing can change your character, and has an impact on your well-being. More details below.

Biogenic, Sociogenic and Idiogenic selves

The author argues that everyone has three ‘selves’:

  • The biogenic self: your genes define some of the traits of your character. This is the fixed part of your personality.
  • The sociogenic self: other traits of your personality are imposed by your social context and the culture you grew in; people who are important to you, your family, friends and colleagues.
  • The idiogenic self: what you decide to do, your projects and plans, are the last layer of your character. Studies have shown that what you do can even has an impact on the manifestation of your genes, and, in a sense, influence your genome at least temporally.

Fortunately, your genes and social context are not the only determinants of your personality. Your idiogenic self is your hero.

OCEAN – The Big 5 Personality Traits

Every person is unique in his personality. However, there exist some common personality traits that all human share in different degrees. Psychologists have defined a several models for human personalities and behavior. One of the most widely used model is the Big Five Personality Traits, that reduces the number of traits (factors) to 5 groups, for simplicity. These 5 traits are represented by the acronym OCEAN, for Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

The following figure shows how people can be positioned across the spectrum of each trait.


Note that there exist other models such as the Myers-Briggs type indicator that will be presented in a forthcoming post.

Acting out of character

In some circumstances, you feel obliged to act out character. Your dream job may require you to step out of your inherent introvert character and act like an extrovert. You might need to impress someone by being highly organized, which is not easy to you naturally. If you feel that you are treated unfairly, you may behave disagreeably, even though you are a very agreeable person. etc.

These situations might be exhausting to you, and you’ll feel the need to return to you niche at the end of the day. Remember that, in the long run, your idiogenic self will help in such situations.



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