Book Review – Who Are You, Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality

27 Feb Book Review – Who Are You, Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality

Who are you really?

It is a very awkward question to try and answer. Then again, if we are honest, answering most deep psychological questions can make us feel a bit awkward.

This book, by acclaimed Cambridge University psychologist Professor Brian Little, helps confront this question head on.

Who Are You, Really? presents a distinctive view of how personality shapes our lives – and why this matters. Dr Brian Little makes the case for a third nature to the human condition – the pursuit of personal projects, crazy dreams and creative ventures that shape both people’s lives and their personalities.

Stable traits of personality (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) have important links with well-being, both psychological and physical. But in contrast with these fixed traits of personality, there are what Little identifies as ‘free traits.’ These are traits that run counter to our first nature. Why do we engage in free trait behaviour? We do this to advance core personal projects in our lives; we can act out of character because of the demands of our profession or because of love.

Like learning to walk, forcing ourselves out of balance as we step forward, may be temporarily disconcerting. But it’s the only way, literally, we can move forward. And it’s the only way that humans can flourish. Who Are You, Really? provides a deeply personal itinerary for exploring our personalities, our lives and the human condition.