APA Style Citation
Little, B. R. (2016). Me, myself, and us: The science of personality and the art of well-being. Public Affairs.
Brian R. Little explores the fields of personality research and positive psychology in a fast-paced style that provides new examples from current studies, numerous built-in activities to use in class, and engaging anecdotes as well as examples from himself, his clients, and his teaching experiences. Many chapters open with several quotes from psychologists, poets, philosophers, scientists, and singers that can be used as discussion starters.
It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster and will never soften again.
- William James, Principles of Psychology, 1890
- William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, 1902
- George Kelly, Man's Construction of his Alternatives, 1958
The book expands on the idea of free traits and the person-situation debate in personality theory with a detailed look at the idea of self-monitoring. The book offers a short 18 item measurement to indicate where individuals fall across the range of self-monitoring (low to high). An interesting section shows how participants ranked a series of forty situations in terms of the degree of self-monitoring pressure they create. The highest included job interviews, public speaking, court appearances, and meeting with a university dean. The situations ranked as the lowest degree of self-monitoring press included being sick at home, watching TV with friends, rock concerts, camping alone, talking with a good friend, and grocery shopping. Ask students to consider how low v. high self-monitors might interpret these diverse situations.
The text explores many popular personality tests covered in psychology textbooks and how they are used in the real world. For example, the author discusses the history, design, and popular uses of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and its reliability and validity issues. The MBTI has poor reliability and only adequate validity levels because it does not have the basis in research found in other personality tests. Despite its issues with reliability and validity, the MBTI remains popular. There are several reasons for this phenomena, according to the author:
- The MBTI is easy to take and score, and participants find it enjoyable and engaging as a topic for corporate workshops or other trainings.
- Effective marketing and readily available spin-off products make the test appealing to companies and corporate trainers.
- Sharing MBTI profile information creates the opportunity to have discussions about personality and offer insight and understanding in ways that similar discussions related to horoscopes do not.
- Individuals often readily identify with their personality profiles and embrace the results with pride.
- The impact of what Little calls magical transformation in which the frustration individuals experience while responding to prompts in the assessment, "It depends on the situation," to the excitement and agreement they feel when they see their results and read their profile. Magical transformation, however, is not only present in the MBTI personality test other personality inventories can create results like this or the Barnum effect.
The book includes a short but reliable and valid assessment for the Big Five traits called the Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI). This inventory developed by Sam Gosling, Jason Rentfrow, and William Swan is printed in the book with scoring guidelines. The TIPI can give students a sense of what the gold standard assessment for the Big Five traits created by Paul Costa and Robert R. McCrae, the NEO PI-R looks like. The NEO PI-R, however, is longer and more comprehensive and is not publicly available. The book's discussion of the Big-Five trait theory is detailed and includes detailed sections on each of the five traits:
Conscientiousness: Structure, Chaos, and All That Jazz
Agreeableness: The Promise and Problems of Being Pleasant
Neuroticism: Sensitivity and Sensibility
Openness to Experience: Receptivity and Resistance
Extraversion: Arousal and Affect
In Me, Myself, and Us, Little explores in detail many other topics central to personality psychology with research studies, personal examples, and more mini inventories. These additional topics include internal v. external locus of control, creative personalities, personality type and health, and personality and the environment. The book is a fantastic resource for short and more in-depth activities for use in units on personality, testing and individual differences, motivation and emotion, stress and health, and social psychology.
Other Related Resources
Author Brian R. Little, Ph.D. website
Author Brian R. Little, Ph.D. TED Talk "Who Are You, Really? The Puzzle of Personality"
Author Brian R. Little, Ph.D. TED Talk "Confessions of a Passionate Introvert"
The Q Test for high v. low self-monitors
Psychological Figures and Concepts
Paul Costa and Robert McCrae
California Personality Inventory
Intelligence and IQ
Locus of control
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Thematic Apperception Test