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.
Daniel Nettle teaches psychology at the University of Newcastle. With degrees 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 fo the World's Languages.
Preface ; 1. Character matters ; 2. The beak of the finch ; 3. Wanderers ; 4. Worriers ; 5. Controllers ; 6. Empathizers ; 7. Poets ; 8. The other half ; 9. Singing with your own voice ; Appendix: The Newcastle Personality Assessor ; Notes ; References ; Index