Dr. Brian R. Little

Photo of Dr. Brian R. Little, a pioneer in the study of human personality and well being.

Professor, Author, Speaker

Brian R. Little is a pioneer in the study of personality, motivation and well-being. His groundbreaking research has shown that human well-doing is enhanced by the sustainable pursuit of core projects in our lives. Dr. Little received his Ph.D. in Personality Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and has taught with distinction at Oxford, Carleton, and Harvard Universities. A bestselling author, his published work includes: Me Myself and Us and, Who are You Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality, based on his extremely popular TED talk.

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. Watch the video below to Join Dr. Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

Essential Reading

Who Are You Really? By Dr. Brian Little. Book cover and description.

Traditionally, scientists have emphasized what they call the first and second natures of personality - genes and culture, respectively. But today the field of personality science has moved well beyond the nature vs. nurture debate. In Who Are You, Really? Dr. Brian Little presents a distinctive view of how personality shapes our lives - and why this matters. Little makes the case for a third nature to the human condition - the pursuit of personal projects, idealistic dreams, and creative ventures that shape both people’s lives and their personalities. Little uncovers what personality science has been discovering about the role of personal projects, revealing how this new concept can help people better understand themselves and shape their lives.

In this important work, Little argues that it is essential to devote energy and resources to creative endeavors in a highly focused fashion, even if it takes away from other components of our well-being. This does not mean that we cannot shift from one core project to another in the days of our lives. In fact, it is precisely that ability to flexibly craft projects that is the greatest source of sustainability. Like learning to walk, forcing ourselves out of balance as we step is the only way in which we can move forward. And it is the only way that human flourishing can be enhanced.

The well-lived life is based on the sustainable pursuit of core projects in our lives. Ultimately, Who Are You, Really? provides a deeply personal itinerary for exploring our personalities, our lives, and the human condition.

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