Book Review : Personality What makes you the way you are?

Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why do some people seem good at empathising, and others at controlling?

Personality: What makes you the way you are, a book by Daniel Nettle is such a book you want to read if you were looking for an answer for those questions.

Personality is an abstract concept, and it is often defined as rather too specific or too broad. Instead of giving the reader a complex definition of personality, the author shows. Nettle shows the readers what personality is through a narrative case of Lee and Julian.

Personality is often discussed as a pseudoscience. We often find one on magazine quiz or Facebook. Nettle offers a science perspective. He wants to talk about personality through science . Yet, he also wants something readable for his general reader. Nettle makes a statement in his book that we can discuss personality in an objective way. Personality is a concept that human can measure through statistic, hence it is a science.

To explore the concept of personality, the author uses the Big Five Personality theory as a framework. It dedicates one chapter for each dimension of the trait in Big Five Personality. You will find each chapter titled as Wanderer, Worriers, Controllers, Empathizers, and Poet. Those words as a title are not random, it represents the most stand out characteristics of a trait.

The book uses a real individual case to discuss the trait of personality. This way is effective since it makes the concept of trait relatable to real life.

As I read the book, I know how to see an extraversion in individual behaviour. It is not always the current behaviour who screams extraversion. Again, Nettle shows us that we can detect extraversion after dig deeper into an individual’s background story.

Our brain is wired in a certain way that put us as a high scorer or low scorer in one dimension of a trait. Nettle conveys this idea to the readers by providing data from neuroscience experiment. It also makes a point that personality is connected to human’s physiology.

Ones cannot talk about personality as science without including statistical data in the discussion. The Author, definitely not forgetting that important rule of science. He explores correlation among behaviour and trait in a statistical manner. At the second chapter, he explains how to read a correlation coefficient to give meaning for the statistical language he uses in this book.

Nettle also describes well how evolution is connected to personality. In the worrier chapter, he describes that a high scorer in neuroticism is very sensitive to negative emotions. Experience negative emotions all the time might sound not so good now, but things are different in ancient times. Our ancestors need negative emotions to keep them away from dangers.

This book is a combination of a real case, experiment, and neuroscience facts. A perfect combination to give the reader a comprehensive exploration of personality. Readers don’t have to worry about a complex science, the scientific part of this book can still be understood by a non – academic reader.


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