TED : Ideas worth spreading

Review: Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality

Speaker: Brian Little
TED2016
Date: February 2016
Location: Vancouver, BC

Description from TED website:
What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits or defined characteristics that make us who we are. But Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits — sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves. Join Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

Select the image to go to the actual video.

My Review / Notes / Thoughts

Brian Little is a psychologist and his talk was wonderful (of course I may be a bit biased since psychology intrigues me). He talked about one facet of psychology called “personality science” which aligns people along five, normally distributed dimensions (they also spell out the acronym OCEAN).

"O" stands for "open to experience," versus those who are more closed.
"C" stands for "conscientiousness," in contrast to those with a more lackadaisical approach to life.
"E" — "extroversion," in contrast to more introverted people.
"A" — "agreeable individuals," in contrast to those decidedly not agreeable.
"N" — "neurotic individuals," in contrast to those who are more stable.

He then goes on to talk about Introverts and Extroverts … and the differences between the two. Dr. Little is an introvert, though you might not could tell it from his passion on stage. I really liked how to compared the two personality types. It is very much worth watching the video to hear his explanation – I certainly can’t do it justice here.

What I really liked about his talk came at around 11:46 in the video, in which he said:

“So what is it that makes us different? It's the doings that we have in our life — the personal projects. You have a personal project right now, but nobody may know it here. It relates to your kid — you've been back three times to the hospital, and they still don't know what's wrong. Or it could be your mom. And you'd been acting out of character. These are free traits. You're very agreeable, but you act disagreeably in order to break down those barriers of administrative torpor in the hospital, to get something for your mom or your child.”

From this, he said that when we interact with other people, instead of asking them what “type” they are (i.e. introvert/extrovert, etc), ask them “What are your core projects in your life?” In his case, it is to “profess” and as such he is a professor. His core project has him act against his introverted-ness and causes him to act extroverted.

He goes on to say that while we may act against our normal nature, we need to be careful that we don’t neglect ourselves. After all, introverts tend to need a more quiet environment in order to recharge and extroverts need stimulation.

A very good talk, I highly recommend it!

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Little’s Books:


Until next time … live long life-learner!

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