Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are (Oxford Landmark Science)

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9780199211425: Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are (Oxford Landmark Science)

It is one of the great mysteries of human nature. Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why are some people so easy-going and laid-back, while others are always looking for a fight?
Written by Daniel Nettle--author of the popular book Happiness--this brief volume takes the reader on an exhilarating tour of what modern science can tell us about human personality. Revealing that our personalities stem from our biological makeup, Nettle looks at the latest findings from genetics and brain science, and considers the evolutionary origins and consequences of different personalities. The heart of the book sheds light on the "big five": Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientious, Agreeableness, and Openness. Using a stimulating blend of true-life stories and scientific research, Nettle explains why we have something deep and consistent within us that determines the choices we make and situations we bring about. He addresses such questions as why members of the same family differ so markedly in their natures? What is the best personality to have--a bold one or a shy one, an aggressive one or a meek one? And are you stuck with your personality, or can you change it? Life, Nettle concludes, is partly the business of finding a niche where your personality works for you. "It is a question of choosing the right pond," he notes, "and being mindful of the dangers." There is no ideal personality to have. Every disposition brings both advantages and disadvantages.
Full of human wisdom as well as scientific insight, this book illuminates the pluses and minuses of personality, offering practical advice about living with the nature you were born with. It even includes a questionnaire so that you can assess yourself.

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About the Author:

Daniel Nettle teaches psychology at the University of Newcastle. With degress in both psychology and anthropology, he has written on many aspects of human nature and culture. His previous books include Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile, Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature and (with Suzanne Romaine) Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages.


"The author unearths a few everyday characteristics shared by people who say they are happy, including good health, a feeling of autonomy, and social correctiveness. To that list, one might add browsing through this thought-provoking book."--O: The Oprah Magazine, on Happiness

"Excellent survey of the subject-a lucid, intelligent, and thoughtful essay."--Lancet

"An authoritative, challenging, even profound analysis of the most up-to-date research into its subject."--Winston Fletcher, THES

"The five factors or dimensions of personality are extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness. Proceeding in the manner of pop-psych text, Nettle cites clinical cases to illustrate each trait.... Psychology for the general reader is very seldom this substantial and jargon-free."--Sci-Tech Spotlight

"A fun, cute, engaging book about the state of the art in personality research...offers clear, succinct, engaging descriptions of these [five-factors], calling on current research as much as on examples of individuals...The soundness of its underlying research and its extensive endnotes and references gives this little book empirical weight."--Choice

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