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Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  806 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
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 personali
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published October 25th 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published September 13th 2007)
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Dec 19, 2013 Thomas rated it really liked it
A great, easy-to-read book that delves deeper into the Big Five personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN). Daniel Nettle uses a blend of anecdotes and science - ranging from the evolutionary perspective to genetics to environmental factors - to explain each area of personality. He creates a solid argument concerning why he views the Big Five as a fluctuating selection type model (every place on the continuum of each trait has its pros a ...more
Apr 07, 2015 Bookchick rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this but thought it was an overly simplistic book, especially since the author seems to think that our personalities are a result merely of natural selection.

I did find the five "dimensions" of personality to be interesting:
Extraversion (outgoing vs. quiet), Neuroticism (prone to worry & stress vs. being "emotionally stable"), Conscientiousness (organized & self-directed vs. spontaneous & careless), Agreeableness (trusting & empathetic vs. uncooperative & ho
Xenophon Hendrix
Apr 18, 2013 Xenophon Hendrix rated it really liked it
I've now read three books about the Five Factor (a.k.a. Big Five) Personality Model. This one is by far the least dry and most readable.

I also like the way the author makes sure to consider personality traits from the perspective of natural selection.
Dec 22, 2012 Rocky rated it it was amazing
Great primer on the Big 5 personality traits that directly arise from structures in our brain. With clear example and case studies, Nettle does an excellent job explaining personality from a point of view of evolutionary biology / evolutionary psychology.
Andee Schuck
Things I have learned...

-foxen are just friends you haven't met yet--NOT potential meals.
-thanks to a long family history of close contact with mental facilities/psychiatric services, my quasi-hallucinations and perceptual disturbances are just signs of high openness and not genetic schizophrenia.
-long lives the Queen of England.
-extraverts and optimists die sooner than those flakey, self-serving, anti-social cynics.
-I am basically the reincarnation of Allen Ginsberg. ("But he died AFTER you wer
Jul 27, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Interesting study of personality from a genetic and evolutionary point of view.
May 25, 2011 Eugenia rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book.
Apr 16, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, psychology
This is a good cook's tour of one of the most widely used personality profile scales out there: OCEAN (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism).

Besides sketching each of these personality dimensions, giving examples from correspondence he has kept from some of his clients who strongly fit the profiles, and making evolutionary psychology arguments about why these traits should have arisen, Nettle also deals with the whole nature-nurture issue and the question of w
May 22, 2011 Hdmsisk rated it it was amazing
We've all taken personality tests. This book explains why we have different personalities: brain structure, genes and evolution. Five different personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness.

Favorite line from book was approximately: If you lie awake worrying at night, it's because you come from a long line of people who lie awake worrying at night.

Explained to me why most of the things I worry about don't come to pass. Our systems for processing ne
Zoffix Znet
Nov 10, 2013 Zoffix Znet rated it it was amazing
Informative and funny. A well-written and captivating book. At the beginning, the author invites you to compute your personality score along 5 dimensions. After brief introduction into how these dimensions develop, he proceeds to explain each of these in great detail that allows you to gain deeper understanding of yourself and others; piece by piece. The book provides plenty of examples of each of the extremes for all the 5 personality traits, as well as explains how these traits evolved and per ...more
Apr 08, 2008 Joseph rated it really liked it
this book uses the Big Five Personality traits to explore human behaviour + to offer some befitting explanations from the evolution perspective

Big Five Personality Traits:
(1) Openness
(2) Conscientiousness
(3) Extraversion
(4) Agreeableness
(5) Neuroticism

(easily recalled as O-C-E-A-N)

my key take away is to further appreciate the different traits that make up each individual, and that NO SINGLE trait is considered more superior, but to consider them as a consequence of contextual force. and how the
Erika RS
Jun 05, 2016 Erika RS rated it really liked it
This book provides a detailed explanation of the Big Five personality model. Although the explanation of the model itself was interesting, the most valuable parts of the book were the first and last chapters.

The first chapter establishes how personality models like the Big Five are generated. Unlike models with less construct validity, these models do not start with a schema and then put people into it. Instead, these models start by asking behavioral questions and then looking for clusters of
Jurij Fedorov
Dec 31, 2014 Jurij Fedorov rated it liked it
Fine little book on personality and how we scientifically can measure it. But it leaves a lot out and does not explain all about BIG5.

Nettle is a great mind in modern psychology. While many psychologist don't understand the gene/environment interaction Nettle has a great understanding of it. This book is an informative read and will explain to you how people have different personalities and how scientists can look into the human soul. Nettle explains that parents cannot influence their child
Alex Napha
Apr 26, 2016 Alex Napha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-sci-psy
This is a very well written book for those who interested in psychology. If you are interesting in Psychology, there's one book that you could read about psychology, then this book should be it. This book gives such a nice scientific explanation about self, as a tool to help you answer the hardest question of all time, "WHO ARE YOU?". This book helps me learn so much about myself, why I enjoy something different than the others. We can actually relate the information from this book to our real l ...more
Oct 30, 2014 Utkarsh rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
1. Our personalities are sum total of our genes and the environment we grown up with.
- A man is sum total of 7 people he interacts with.
- That's why you should choose your friends wisely.

2. Your personality shaped in your childhood and it determines how you live your life.
I call it bullshit. Reason? Personal experience.

3. Darwinism is the mother of Power.

4. The Big 5 Personality traits.
a) Extraversion- Positive emotions.
b) Neuroticism- They worry too much. Moms in general.
c) Conscientiousn
Mar 19, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was ok
This is a really interesting idea and I wanted to like this book. The author even states that he is trying to make this readable for the average (non-academic) reader....but let's just say it was hard to finish. And I learned that I have a medium-high streak of Neuroticism :)
Thing Two
Jun 13, 2010 Thing Two rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thing Two by: Craig Lynch
Twenty years after the Human Genome Project, this book explores the idea that personality could be genetic. It is well written, easy to understand, and says that more than just nurture, our neurotic tendencies can and should be blamed on our parents.
Marnie Lansdown
Aug 17, 2015 Marnie Lansdown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, and I find the study of personality really interesting. Daniel Nettle does a good job of laying down the science of personality without getting too...scientific. Highly recommend.
May 05, 2008 Bridget rated it really liked it
Explanation of the basis for personality, both in evolution and physically in the brain. Very interesting...even has a handy little quiz so you can see what personality type you are!
Nov 18, 2009 Claire rated it liked it
"If for each environment there is a best organism, for each organism there is a best environment." - Lee Cronbach

"The reasons for relapse are not pleasure-seeking or even craving so much as the inability of inhibitory mechanisms to stop the habit once formed (page 139)."

"He must spray his sinuses, take two aspirin, straighten up the apartment, do thirty-five sit-ups and read two pages of the dictionary. The sheets must be of just the right crispness and temperature and the room must be noiseless
Dec 24, 2012 Converse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

According to Daneil Nettle, a British academic psychologist, our personalities can be usefully described using numerical scores for 5 different factors. These 5 factors have a large heritable component, about 50% of one's personality can be explained through heridity. Self-reported scores (calculated by filling out a questioner and totalling up the scores) are consistent over time and are also consistent with how other people see the subject. Furthermore, with brain imaging technology it is now

Matthew Green
Feb 27, 2013 Matthew Green rated it really liked it
Nettle's book does not advertise itself as one specifically discussing the Big 5 personality sorter, but that is the particular schema he considers, which makes this book somewhat unique. Most books for the layman on personality tend to detail variants of the Meyers-Briggs sorter, the Enneagram, or various other systems. Books on the Big 5, however, tend to be aimed at the academic and don't make for particularly pleasant reading. Nettle crosses the divide, and I am grateful for it.

His style is
May 19, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
This was quite academic and occasionally scientific in tone, but it was still very readable and only took a few days to get through. It helped that Nettle keeps the text free of references and provides them all in notes and an extensive bibliography at the end.

Before this I'd only really read about personality 'types' (e.g. the Myers Briggs Type Indicator). Nettle thinks that types are not biologically plausible - personality is actually made up of (at least) five traits, each of which probably
Dec 10, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing

I found this book while looking for a general presentation of the "big five personality factor" or OCEAN theory of personality, which is what this is. I was very sceptical about the theory on the basis of what I'd heard and read about it.

I found Nettle's account pretty persuasive as well as being at once readable and yet not dumbed down.

My only criticism would be that I wanted more. But that's my high-impulsiveness/low-conscientiousness personality at work. I should know when I've had enough, an
Trey Nowell
Sep 16, 2013 Trey Nowell rated it really liked it
To be completely honest, the beginning of this book had me not wanting to finish it, but after the first intro, it really picked up for me. Having a degree in this fiel, my interest was sparked, and I really enjoyed the basic breakdown of personality types. Being someone that almost fits one type they mentioned, and seeing many others that fit various types (and mixes), it was enjoyable to say the least. I think this book may be a tad scientific and over the heads of the casual reader, dipping i ...more
Oct 29, 2008 Colleen rated it really liked it
Picked this up browsing the library shelves and am delighted with my chance encounter. I love self-analysis opportunities, and this was no fluff. The author includes lots of empirical studies and statistics to lay the groundwork for his "big five" personality styles. And I agree with his basics--we all fall high, low or anywhere in between on Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness, from birth. These general headings umbrella traits like high anxiety and fear (ce ...more
Jun 25, 2016 Crystal rated it liked it
The book was okay. In particular I enjoyed Nettle's reference in regard to the evolution of animals as prime examples of personality traits amongst the generations. It was a bit difficult to stay focused on and read. The concepts were thoroughly explained and well thought out but I was expecting more form this book.
Nov 16, 2011 Ms_prue rated it really liked it
I had to read this all in one sitting, because the writing was that good. Normally I get hives from repeated invocations of "...because our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have..." but the author handles the reasoning behind the evolutionary biology connections very well, in my opinion. I appreciate his thesis that personality traits occur on a spectrum, as opposed to the typing of personalities into discrete boxes (yes, I'm looking at you, Briggs-Meyer Empire) and that there are many, many perm ...more
Alex Devero
Feb 14, 2015 Alex Devero rated it really liked it
This book will teach you more about your personality, that it is outside your control. When you closely examine the traits that make you who you are, you’ll know what you need to overcome to be a better person and how to work towards living a happier and more fulfilling life.
Story of Choice
Sep 10, 2013 Story of Choice rated it really liked it
Daniel Nettle identifies five factors that make up human personality, five continuums along which we fall in countless permutations. A short quiz in the appendix allows you to calculate your own configuration. I particularly appreciate two well-argued main assertions. First, that descriptive personality traits correspond to biochemical indicators that make them likely shorthand for genetic variety. This neatly bridges the long-assumed and illusory split between mind and matter. Second, that beca ...more
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“This clarification of the nature of intelligence predicts that there will be no relationship at all between personality and intelligence, but research in the last decade has shown that this is not quite true. There are no very strong relationships between personality and intelligence, but some relationships there are, though debate about their nature and significance goes on. Most strikingly, though, in a couple of studies where relationships between Conscientiousness and intelligence have been found, they are not, as you might imagine, positive, but weakly negative. The smarter people are, the less conscientious they are.13 The most likely explanation for this is that people who are very sharp soon learn that they can get away with not preparing things too much in advance, not being overly disciplined with their time, and so on, since their quick abilities will get them through whatever academic and professional challenges they meet. Conversely, people who are not quite so quick have to use organization and discipline to achieve what some others might achieve carelessly. Thus, a behavioural style is developed that compensates for the level of intelligence, and so ends up inversely related to it. This means that there is no intrinsic genetic connection between low Conscientiousness and high intelligence. Rather, the weak negative correlation is something that emerges through development.” 2 likes
“it is a sensible suggestion that there might be individual differences in how widely activation spreads in networks of meaning. Moreover, the breadth of spread might plausibly be the cognitive mechanism underlying Openness. There is no direct evidence on this question, but there is an interesting study by Christine Mohr on Unusual Experiences-type schizotypy, and as I have said, I see ‘real’ Openness as quite close to this construct. In Mohr’s experiment, participants saw pairs or triads of words, such as ‘HONEY-BREAD’ or ‘LADDER-BOTTLE-CAT’, and had to rate how close in meaning they felt the different words to be. Scores on the schizotypy measure were a good predictor of how close on average the words were judged to be. The higher the schizotypy score, the closer the meanings seemed. The best explanation for these results is that, for the high-Unusual Experiences scorer, each word activates a broad raft of related associations, and since the second word is either in that raft or related to a word which is, the words seem close in meaning. For the low scorer, the raft of associations is narrower, and so the distance to the second word seems greater on average.” 0 likes
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