“Every man is in certain respects like all other men, like some other men, like no other man”
- Murray & Kluckhohn
As personality researchers, we are interested in everything you do and why you do it. Our studies explore the differences between your self-views and how other people see you; whether nature or nurture play a more important role in determining psychopathic behaviors; and whether your Facebook and Twitter posts reveal how honest or manipulative you are. We also study what your favorite songs and movies say about you; addictions (not just drinking and smoking, but also eating and over-working); and romantic compatibility – why is it that some couples are happier than others? These are just a few examples…
For at least 100 years, psychologists from all over the world have published influential studies to provide sound, compelling, unbiased answers to these questions. These findings are quite different from the urban legends that you find in online forums or popular psychology books. Unfortunately, they are also less influential: clichés and stereotypes have a lot more incidence on people’s decision-making than well-established scientific theories. And partly, we have only ourselves to blame. Indeed, academics tend to speak to academics and in academic language, so that nobody else understands what we are saying. It is no surprise that self-help gurus have a much bigger audience than researchers do.
Personality 101 is our attempt to bridge the gap between the science and popular interest on personality. With this little book, we have tried to “digest” the overwhelming body of theories and findings contributing to our understanding of human nature and translate it through non-technical language. The main question we wanted to answer is: “What Do We Really Know About You?” As you will find if you read the book, most of the common assumptions about personality are in stark contrast with the actual research evidence. Seven facts that usually contradict the classic assumptions include:
- Genetic factors play a much bigger role in shaping your personality than the environment does.
- Personality remains stable throughout the life span – people don't change much.
- People change less the older they get.
- Your happiness is determined by your personality far more than your life circumstances.
- Your personality influences how long you will live.
- People are not unique – most people can be described on only 5 dimensions (just like colors can be describe on only 3).
- Personality tests can predict how well job applicants will do at their job.
These are only some of hundreds of such examples. At a time when there are so many self-help books to choose from, as well as tons of information online, we believe it is important to have a scientific opinion on where to look, as well as how to take in and sometimes question this information.
Personality has a strong influence on our lives and we believe it is crucial to have an accurate picture of why this is; it is also equally important to understand whether and how change can occur in our personality. Thus we feel it is timely to provide the general public with an accessible, brief, and reader-friendly book, which has a thorough scientific basis and will tell you an accurate story of the nature of personality. We hope Personality 101 will achieve this goal.
What other false assumptions about personality have you encountered? Share your thoughts and comments below.
Gorkan Ahmetoglu and Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic are experts in the field of personality as well as established authors and researchers. For more information on their recently published book or other titles in our “101” series, visit springerpub.com.