Who Are You, Really?: The Surprising Puzzle of Personality by Brian R. Little is a book that explores the complex and multifaceted nature of human personality. Drawing from psychology research and his own work in the field, Little offers insights into how personality is shaped and how it influences our lives. Here are the key ideas from the book:
Personal Projects
Little introduces the concept of "personal projects," which are the goals, interests, and activities that individuals pursue in their lives. He argues that these projects are a central aspect of personality and provide insight into who we are.
Three P's of Personality
Little discusses the three P's that influence personality: biology (genetics and brain structure), socio-cultural factors (family, culture, and social context), and idiographic factors (unique personal experiences and choices).
Trait Theory
The book explores trait theory, which focuses on identifying and categorizing personality traits. Little discusses the Big Five personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) and their impact on behavior.
Free Traits
Little introduces the concept of "free traits," which suggests that individuals can exhibit personality traits that are contrary to their natural disposition in certain situations or for personal projects that are important to them.
The Core Self
Little discusses the concept of the "core self," which represents an individual's true self or authentic identity. He emphasizes the importance of aligning personal projects with the core self for greater happiness and fulfillment.
Personality Change
The book explores the idea that personality is not static but can change over time. Little discusses factors that can lead to personality change, such as significant life events or intentional efforts.
The Pursuit of Well-Being
Little emphasizes the connection between personality and well-being. He discusses how understanding and aligning personal projects with one's true self can lead to greater life satisfaction.
Introversion and Extraversion
The book delves into the differences between introverts and extraverts, challenging stereotypes and highlighting the nuanced nature of these personality traits.
The "Restorative Niche"
Little introduces the concept of the "restorative niche," which represents the environments and activities that individuals naturally gravitate toward for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Personality Flexibility
Little suggests that individuals can develop personality flexibility by consciously adopting traits that are beneficial for specific personal projects or situations, even if those traits are not their natural tendencies.
Coping with Stress
The book provides insights into how personality influences coping mechanisms and stress resilience. Little discusses the role of personal projects in managing stress.
Balancing Authenticity and Adaptability
Little encourages readers to strike a balance between being authentic to their core self and adapting their personality as needed for personal projects and growth.

"Who Are You, Really?" offers a nuanced and holistic perspective on personality, highlighting the interplay between innate traits, personal projects, and the pursuit of happiness and authenticity. Brian R. Little's book challenges traditional notions of fixed personality traits and provides practical insights for individuals seeking to understand and navigate their own personalities more effectively.