Personality Book Summary - Personality Book explained in key points
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Personality summary

Daniel Nettle

What Makes You the Way You Are

4.3 (211 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

'Personality' by Daniel Nettle is a scientific exploration of personality traits, their evolutionary origins, and their impact on our lives. It challenges popular personality tests and provides insights into how we can better understand ourselves and others.

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    Our personalities derive from our genetics and the environment we grew up in.

    Have you ever wondered why some people never seem anxious, while others have such bad anxiety they can’t sleep?

    Put simply, it’s because people have different personalities. But where do those personalities come from? Is it something biological or do you get it from your environment?

    The answer? It’s a combination of both.

    About 50 percent of your personality comes from your genes. We can see evidence of this in the animal kingdom. For example, researchers once bred guppies from different geographical areas in an artificial environment free from predators. Later, they introduced a predator to see how they’d react.

    Although none of the fish had faced a predator before, they reacted the same way they would’ve in the wild: namely, the fish originally from areas with a low number of predators exposed themselves to the danger more than the fish from areas with a high number of predators, which were better at protecting themselves and thus surviving.

    This showed that their way of reacting to predators wasn’t something they learned – it was genetic. And, like these fish, humans also have certain personality traits that are biologically ingrained.

    The other half of our personality depends on our environment and is mostly developed in our childhood. Children learn to adapt very quickly in order to survive. So when we’re in situations where we learn something important as children, it’s likely to influence our personality as adults.

    For example, if a person is the oldest of several children, they often have a strong sense of responsibility. Firstborns often feel the need to take care of their younger siblings, which can influence their personalities throughout their lives. They might continue seeking leadership positions when they’re adults, for instance.

    So although we do get quite a bit of our personality from our genetic code, our environment shapes it just as powerfully.

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    What is Personality about?

    Anyone can see that people have different personalities, but what exactly causes this? This book examines the factors that influence personality based on the research of numerous psychologists. You’ll learn about the core traits that determine a person’s overall character, the different strengths and weaknesses they have, and how to get the most out of your own personality.

    Personality Review

    Personality by Daniel Nettle (2007) explores the science behind our individual personalities and why they matter in our lives. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Offers a fascinating exploration of the different dimensions of personality, from strengths and weaknesses to character traits, revealing the complexity of who we are.
    • Draws on real-life examples, research findings, and psychological theories to provide valuable insights and practical applications for understanding ourselves and others.
    • With its engaging narrative and thought-provoking ideas, this book breaks down complex concepts into accessible explanations, making the study of personality captivating and enriching.

    Best quote from Personality

    Essentially unpredictable childhood misadventures can have important, long-term effects on personality into adulthood.

    —Daniel Nettle
    example alt text

    Who should read Personality?

    • Anyone interested in psychology or human behavior
    • Anyone interested in learning more about themselves, their friends and family
    • Anyone who wants to use their personality analysis to better themselves   

    About the Author

    Daniel Nettle is the author of many successful books, such as Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile and Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature. He studied psychology, philosophy and anthropology at Oxford University and University College London, and his work focuses mostly on evolution, cognitive development and human behavior.

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    Personality FAQs 

    What is the main message of Personality?

    Personality explores how our unique traits and characteristics shape who we are and the choices we make.

    How long does it take to read Personality?

    The reading time for Personality varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is Personality a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Personality is a fascinating read, providing valuable insights into human behavior and the impact of our personality on our lives.

    Who is the author of Personality?

    The author of Personality is Daniel Nettle.

    What to read after Personality?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Personality, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Reading People by Anne Bogel
    • Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson
    • Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger
    • Me, Myself and Us by Brian R. Little
    • The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Personality Isn't Permanent by Benjamin Hardy
    • Super Human by Dave Asprey
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills