- MP3 CD
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (October 14, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1491551801
- ISBN-13: 978-1491551806
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,752,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being
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About the Author
Dr. Brian Little is an internationally acclaimed scholar and speaker in the field of personality and motivational psychology. He is a fellow of the Well-being Institute at Cambridge University, where he also lectures in the Department of Psychology and the Cambridge Judge Business School. He is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at Carleton University. Little has taught at Carleton, McGill, Oxford, and Harvard Universities. He was elected as a “Favorite Professor” by the graduating classes of Harvard for three consecutive years. He lives in Cambridge, England, and Ottawa, Canada.
Top customer reviews
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About once a year you read a book that both confirms your beliefs and introduces you to new ways of thinking. Me, Myself, and Us is the book for 2015. It is a pleasure to read a book that is clearly written and humorous yet full of insights. Thankfully it gives neuroplasticity a miss and tries to explain how you can have a happy life without morphing into a sermon on new-age spirituality. Instead Little takes as his mantra that happiness is derived by understanding who we are and what we do and then spends 288 pages explaining how it can be achieved.
The first insight by Little is that there are three sources of our personality traits:
1. Biogenic referring to the aspects of our personality sourced genetically. (50%)
2. Sociogenic, those aspects learned from social and cultural factors (25%), and
3. Idojenic, referring to the aspects of our personality best accounted for by (idiosyncratic) individual factors such as personal values, goals, projects and commitments. (25%)
Personally I think the London Twins study makes the percentages more like 66%-17%-17% but it still is a very useful model.
With regard to Biogenic factors Little begins by dumping on Myers-Briggs saying the test lacks both reliability and validity. In addition he makes the point that it is not Type that counts in personality but traits. I must confess as someone who regards MBTI as a waste of time I enjoyed this section. Instead Little recommends the reader adopt the Big Five model. The five-factor model (FFM) indentifies 5 core traits:
1. openness to creativity
OCEAN is often used as a mnemonic to remember the traits. Each trait is distributed normally in the population. In other words 67% of the population fall within plus or minus 1 standard devation and have an average level of the trait. So one sixth of the population would be classified as Extravert, one sixth as Introverts, and two-thirds as Ambiverts. The MBTI say you are either an Extravert or Introvert.
Personally I prefer the Humm-Wadsworth with its seven factors to the FFM; however the five most common factors in the Humm are identical to the FFM.
Little then goes on to both list a number of secondary factors and provide for each factor a simple questionnaire. Unfortunately he then slips into the same error as the MBTI by saying you are at one end of the spectrum or the other. For example Self Monitoring refers to the individual's trait sensitivity and responsiveness to social factors. High Self Monitors are highly responsive to needs and perspectives of others and are apt to avoid conflict at all costs. Low Self Monitors stick to their own beliefs and attitudes which can make them unconscious and boorish but they are not afraid of healthy conflict. The reality is that two-thirds of us are clustered around the mean.
Similarly with locus of control which refers to the extent to which individuals believe are in control of the events affecting them. A person’s locus is either internal (the person believes they are primarily in control of their life course) or external (meaning they believe their life course is primarily controlled by external factors which they cannot influence). Again two-thirds of us cluster around the mean.
However the part of the book I found really illuminating is when Little described the idojenic contribution to our behaviour. Little uses himself as an example. He describes as an introvert who when he is lecturing projects himself as an pseudo=extrovert. I myself have had the same experience. People are often surprised to hear according to the MBTI that I am an introvert. But I am. I have simply adapted my personality to meet the demands of the situation. People do behave "out of character" or counter to their typical disposition.
Little makes great play about how important it is for your own happiness to be doing projects that are congruent with your genetic traits. According to Little most of us have up to 15 projects on the go. He refers to a website 43.com which had been operating since 2005 and collects list of projects from people. Top of the list is losing weight followed by going to write a book. Unfortunately for Little the website closed down in March 2015. Nevertheless his book is first class and well worth purchasing.
Me, Myself, And Us is a fantastic book. Dr. Little has us laughing, thinking, reflecting, questioning, and at the same time learning learning and learning about ourselves, our friends, our foes, and anyone else we care to put within our personal radar. Throughout the book, the common theme of questioning how people behave, why they behave how they behave, and what we can do about it, is as helpful a guide as any that has ever been written about the subject.
My favourite quote of the book, that I have since started using in every day usage, is the idea of "acting out of character", which Dr. Little uses to illustrate one of his key theories. In short, acting out of character has a dual meaning; on the one hand, it describes situations where we act in ways that run contrary to our biological make-up and our sociological/cultural up-bringing; at the same time, acting out of character can also describe situations where we act because of our character, because of what we believe in, and because of things that are important for us. Acting out of character therefore describes situations where introverts act like extroverts, where selfish people act kind, or where social butterflies act more calm. Crucially, we can not act out of character all the time, but need spaces where we can be in-tune with our character again, which Dr. Little calls "restorative niches" to maintain levels of well-being.
For anyone interested in the self, whether it's their own or other peoples', I can only wholeheartedly recommend reading Dr. Little's book, which I would call his magnum opus (to date). It's a very accessible, smart, and funny read, that will have you pause at times to reflect and think.
For a good book on personality offering a very balanced (science, evolution, stories) see Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are.