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Personality: What makes you the way you are [Hardcover]

Daniel Nettle
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Personality: What makes you the way you are Personality: What makes you the way you are 4.2 out of 5 stars (16)
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Book Description

13 Sep 2007
Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why do some people seem good at empathising, and others at controlling? We have something deep and consistent within us that determines the choices we make and the situations we bring about. But why should members of the same species 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?

Daniel Nettle takes the reader on a tour through the science of human personality, introducing the five 'dimensions' on which every personality is based, and using an unusual combination of individual life stories and scientific research. Showing how our personalities stem from our biological makeup, Nettle looks at the latest findings from genetics and brain science, considers the evolutionary origins and consequences of personality variation, and even includes a questionnaire for you to assess your own personality against the five dimensions.

There is no optimal personality to have. Rather, every disposition brings both advantages and disadvantages. Life is partly the business of finding a niche where your personal characteristics work for you. Full of human as well as scientific insight, this book will enable you to understand the perils and potentials of your personality to the full.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (13 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199211426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199211425
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 12.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


An engaging primer on the genetics of personality (Carol Tavris, TLS)

About the Author

Daniel Nettle teaches psychology at Newcastle University. His previous books include Happiness: The Science Behind your Smile. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
I came across this book whilst browsing in a bookstore - and I couldn't put it down. Although small, it's packed with fascinating insights on the five key factors of personality (i.e., Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience), which psychologists have found make up the core aspects of our temperament. I studied psychology, and this book provides the best description of Extraversion and Neuroticism that I have ever read. It is easy to read, and packed with scientific information on the heritability of personality, and the fascinating case studies demonstrate how each facet of personality has affected men and women's lives. I was surprised to read that Extraverts tend to have a higher sex drive, greater need for travel, money and status (so it's not all about sociability!). This is because extraverts' brains are wired to be 'rewarded' by such things, but these are less 'rewarding' for introverts. And people high in Neuroticism, may have a propensity to depression (which is good to know). A bonus is that each chapter provides examples of how the factors inter-relate within a person, e.g., how a person with high extraversion, but with low agreeability, might not be a pleasant party companion! In summary, this book provided me with some great new insights into understanding myself and others, and would make a wonderful gift for someone.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant synthesis 17 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book makes sense of the five-factor analysis of personality, showing how the factors are not the arbitrary fancy of theorists but correspond to different brain and endocrine systems. The author sets his account in an evolutionary and ecological framework, showing how variability in the five factors has been selected for by changes in our past environments. The book is written in a lively and comprehensible style and uses examples very effectively. Strongly recommended! I do not understand how the reviewer Asp, who gave two stars, could prefer the book by Isabel Myers, which is thoroughly dated and lacks a scientific basis.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understand the new science of personality 7 July 2008
I've been trying to find a book on personality that does justice to the emerging consensus around the Big 5 factors (extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness to experience)... and here it is. Nettle writes clearly and lucidly for the general reader while persuasively arguing for his own interpretations of contentious issues.

Most impressively, for each of the 5 factors he;
(i) describes them in greater detail than other authors bother to do
(ii) links extreme scores to heightened risk of developing particular disorders
(iii) relates each factor to a particular psychological mechanism
(iv) links these to structures in the brain
(v) explains why variation continues to exist for each factor

There's also a clear explanation of the evidence on the causes of personality differences and the shortest Big 5 personality test ever.

One of those books that makes you feel smart for understanding it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wished it was longer! 22 April 2009
By Matt P
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lucid, witty, packed with sensible thinking and useful ideas.

A must-have if you are interested in the psychology of personality, and a very good companion to the IPIP-NEO Five Factor personality test - take the (long) test then read this book to interpret the results.

I only wish it were longer!
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3.0 out of 5 stars More enjoyable psycho-babbling 9 Mar 2014
By opus
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Are you likely to start a conversation with a stranger? is one of the questions in the personality test at the end of the volume. Well am I? It all depends on where and when so I know not what to answer from the five choices. The same goes for all the other questions and thus I am unable to determine what my personality is - assuming of course there is such a thing.

Can I change my personality if I am unhappy with it? Apparently it is best to work with what one has, and I must say that as with lines on a face peoples characteristics do seem to be come more ingrained with time - people become more like themselves.

Has a self-help book ever helped anyone? I rather doubt it, not that this volume would claim to be in that sub-literary genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and accessible scientific review 29 Dec 2013
By Nigel Seel VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Suppose you ask people to rate their interest in such things as social activities, travel, competitive success and sex. Perhaps not surprisingly, their separate scores will correlate with each other (0.1 - 0.3). If you now ask them whether they ever feel depressed or `blue', or whether they have sought help for anxiety, their scores for these two items also positively correlate with each other. But the first four sets and the second two sets don't cross correlate at all. This suggests there are deeper traits at work. A technique called factor analysis identifies Extraversion as the common factor in the first set, and Neuroticism as the common factor for the second. These two factors are independent.

When a wide variety of personality-relevant items are rated for large samples of people, factor analysis reliably and repeatedly confirms that there are five underlying, independent personality traits: Extraversion and Neuroticism as already described; Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and Openness. Each will get a chapter to itself.

The Five Factor Model of personality is often accused of shallowness, and of being atheoretic as the factors simply emerge from statistical processing (in fact just the same factoring procedure generates the g-factor - general intelligence - as measured through IQ tests). The great strength of Nettle's book is that he can link individual variation within each of the five factors to differences in brain anatomy and metabolism as captured by MRI scanners and then with genetic differences. The five traits seem to be capturing something real about genetically-determined brain variation.

Common observation confirms that we are surrounded by different personalities.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars now I know!
A really good read! The only wish is that was in hard copy so that I could make notes and refer back. I will definitely read it again, more slowly!
Published 10 months ago by beani
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I really enjoyed this book. Good for academics as well as for personal read. Easy to read and can be done over a few days.
Published on 30 Jan 2012 by Sam hemmingway
3.0 out of 5 stars psychology.
I was hoping this book would be written in layman terms, but it is more for the academic, so is not so easy to comprehend, sadly. Read more
Published on 20 Jan 2012 by Julie Vanberkel
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes this is interesting
This book was delivered very soon after my order, thank you.
I just love it, an excellent read. Its facinating.
Published on 27 Dec 2010 by DGR
2.0 out of 5 stars PERSONALITY CRISIS
I 've read some books about personality in the past and found this one boring,it doesn't add anything,is oversimplyfied and based on light assumptions. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2010 by Georgios Pergamalis
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not accomplish its goal
I already knew a lot of personality-psychology, when I picked this up.

To this date there is no comprehensive, popular volume on the Neo-Pir or big five personality... Read more
Published on 3 Feb 2010 by sanyata
5.0 out of 5 stars A tool for insight
'Personality' is a tool that will help you develop self awareness - the quality that can make you comfortable in your own skin. Read more
Published on 29 May 2009 by Daisy Chain
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but oddly unsatisfying
As noted elsewhere this explains why psychologists identify factors from correlations in data, and why there are five factors in this theory. Read more
Published on 28 July 2008 by Tony Jones
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