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Why You Are Who You Are

Investigations into Human Personality
Narrated by: Mark Leary
Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

Non-member price: $51.19

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Publisher's Summary

To understand the roots of personality is to understand motivations and influences that shape behavior, which in turn reflect how you deal with the opportunities and challenges of everyday life. That's the focus of these exciting 24 lectures, in which you examine the differences in people's personalities, where these differences come from, and how they shape our lives.

Drawing on information gleaned from psychology, neuroscience, and genetics, Professor Leary opens the door to understanding how personality works and why. Throughout his illuminating lectures, five important personality traits come into focus, traits that form the foundation of how psychologists approach the topic of personality: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness.

Combining psychology with neuroscience and behavioral genetics, this exploration will open your eyes to the myriad ways our traits, motives, emotions, beliefs, and values are shaped by things like our genes, environment, experiences, and evolutionary history. Why is it so hard to change our behavior? Why do people develop different values and morals? Does personality change as we age? Is personality passed down through genes?

Designed as a fascinating, accessible scientific inquiry, these lectures will have you thinking about personality in a way that enriches your understanding of the complex psychological processes that make you who you are.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2018 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Really interesting topic, well told

Excellent lectures and learnt a lot about myself and other people and what makes them/me tick. Never boring at all - was always very engaged.
My only criticism is that there were no lectures about how to change/improve personality traits, it was purely about what is (though I guess that may be another topic...)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Well worth taking the course if you’re interested in understanding the differences in personality

This is a great course that I will be listening to again for the insight it gives for understanding the self and others.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thorough, insightful and valuable.

The depth of information in this course is impressive. I’ve learned far more than I expected and found the overall experience exceeded all expectations. It requires singular focus to retain everything but that’s the nature of the topic and not a reflection of the quality of the offering. Professor Leary himself narrates this and his style, cadence and subtle humour add to the experience. It was at times confronting as I reflected on myself and how some of who I am (that I dislike) is identified and explained throughout the series. But it has helped my sense of understanding of myself (and others) and I am profoundly more self aware having navigated these lectures.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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More insightful and helpful than any self help book

Filled with good science and insightful discussion this book will provide more meaning insight into yourself, your relationship, and the people around you than any self help book.

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very informative and interesting

informative, clear and eye opening. made me reflect on my own thinking and understanding of personalities along the way

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Amazing audiobook

Great audiobook. Narrator is fantastic. I love this topic which I think is very interesting and important to understand. The narrator is very knowledgeable and captivates us throughout the entire book. Recommended it.

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  • Dan
  • 30-03-2018

Highly informative - thought provoking insights

Dr. Leary outlines scholarly approaches to human personality in an easy to engage with manner. What could be more complex than human behavior, and yet he offers the foundation concepts in ways that I could understand without any real background in modern psychology. When I consider courses like this I often have a couple of concerns: 1) will the material be too watered down i.e., lack the intellectual substance to be useful, or 2) will the lecturer get into too much detail about their favorite studies, or use too much lab jargon and acronyms at the expense of clear insights. This course has plenty of substance, just the right amount of study summaries to sustain credibility, and the jargon is well explained but not over explained. Finally, the material is presented in a way that I could retain most of the concepts. I have already shared a number of insights with friends and family. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in investigating the dynamics of personality, or looking for more insight into their own behavior.

147 of 150 people found this review helpful

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  • Happy Husband
  • 15-05-2018

As an addict, I listened to this book. Very Helpfu

I've struggled with meth addiction for nearly 13 years and have sought so many ways to kick my habbit. I wasn't a daily user but once a month, I'd go on a binge. it affected my family, work, and myself. After listening to this book twice, it helped me understand more how some personality types are more prone to drug abuse. Many of the categorically specific traits, habits, and inclinations hit home for me and I did an aweful lot of self reflecting - Trying to unburry the true me who got lost. thanks for the awesome book. I hope next time you can do something specific for substance abuse. We're out here looking for hope.

214 of 219 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy in CA
  • 29-06-2018

Why Did I Do That, Anyway?

This is a good one, folks. It explains the reasons for many human behaviors, your own unique behaviors and those of other people whom you just can't fathom. Although it covered areas of which I was quite familiar (Personality Disorders), the Professor covered plenty of information that was new to me, enough to make me want to listen to the audiobook a second time to fix it into my brain!

The narration was just fine as it is in most of these Great Courses. It is a winner in my book!

53 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph
  • 21-03-2018

One of the Best in the Great Courses Library

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Along with "Nutrition Made Clear" and "Customs of the World," this is one of the three best courses I have taken on TGC. As is the case with the former two courses, "Why You are Who You Are" provides with you with detailed, evidence-based information about a topic that pervades everyday life but for which general information and everyday knowledge is, at best, unreliable. This course definitely helps you to understand the world around you far better, both in an academic and practical sense. Dr. Leary is an excellent presenter as well.

53 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip Greenspun
  • 08-10-2018

Great for workers

Will help you understand why some people are not conscientious. That's a personality trait that is heritable. The professor also can explain a lot of political disagrees with personality characteristics that are primarily genetic. There is not much practical advice in here other than perhaps choose your partner carefully if you're going to have children (and also don't expect people to change!).

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Hendrick Mcdonald
  • 07-03-2018

One of the better Psych series

This is one of the better psychology oriented THC courses I’ve heard. The speaker grows they the big five trainers and then goes thru how those trainers display themselves in different social settings: leadership, attachment, authority, etc. The lecture on personality disorders was also particularly interesting.

41 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Glen I.
  • 17-08-2018

Interesting material, but word of caution...

The author's political biases and agenda are patently clear even as he attempts to convince of his neutrality. He applies all the typically appealing character traits to one political party and the less favorable behaviors to the other. The preachy political statements were boring, and the thinly veiled references to current politicians were annoying.
I have enjoyed previously published courses by Prof Leary and would have found this more useful if not distracted by these unnecessary inferences.

147 of 178 people found this review helpful

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  • B. Gholami
  • 10-05-2018

Nothing about “why”

This book is about tools for measurement of human behavior. Not a bad one at that, but nothing about explaining why the behaviors occur. Read “Behave” by Robert Sapolsky, Instead.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Marco
  • 10-07-2018

don't waste your time, read articles online

I had to stop. It's like it was written by captain obvious.

There are some very informative parts, but when he's about to hit the meat of the subject, he drifts off. Much of what he says can be condensed to 40 sec from 5 min, which left me rather frustrated wanting to yell out; "yeah I get it already!"

look up the subjects he talks about online. A good article that's about a 10 min read will be more informative than half an hour of his yammering

39 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Jade
  • 06-10-2018

Good at first, then inaccurate

As a mental health professional, I'm always looking for books to expand my working knowledge regarding my specialty. This book starts out strong with scientifically-based material presented in an engaging manner. By the point of personality disorders, however, I couldn't listen anymore as it had become a judgmental, pseudo-scientific tirade. Most importantly, it was pointedly wrong in the material presented. I can't speak to the direction the book took after this point because it became unlistenable.

45 of 58 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-03-2018

buy is now

100% recommend if anyone is interested in psychology. The narration is fantastic and highly addictive. This is one of the best courses I have listened to so far.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Sandra Brunet
  • 24-04-2018

Great content, simply explained

This is my second audio book narrated by Prof. Mark Leary. Some great insights helping to understand why we behave the way we do, explained in a simple and easy to understand way. Thank you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jakub
  • 24-04-2018

Absolutely brilliant!

The voice acting is perfect and keeps the listener well engaged. Comprehensive coverage of the topic. A must read for everyone.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Bee
  • 26-02-2018

interesting up to a point

Didn't tell me anything I didn't know really but an easy listen. Really wanted to know more about the origins and treatment of personality disorders.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-12-2018

A thinkers read for people watching

Enlightening and informative... Great for thinkers and people watchers wanting more tools to calibrate their perception of the people around them...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Diogenes
  • 28-08-2018

Not Great Courses Quality

This course felt more like a TED talk and suffers from the "on average" statistical nature of the subject.

Was hoping for a more interdisciplinary approach with more linkage between psychology and neuroscience as well as more depth on both.

Have listened to more than 60 great courses. this is my lowest rating ever

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-06-2018

really enjoyed it

very good book, lots of meta analysis to back it up. very enjoyable and easy to follow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alice ciccone
  • 02-05-2018

A serie of very interesting lectures

Interesting insights into people behavior. This is a collection of kind of separate lectures. Only in the end of it there is a link between the different things one learn. It is a bit hard to remember and one should listen multiple times.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Tomé
  • 16-04-2018

Great Overview

Going to give it a second listen for sure. Would have liked more info on the therapies that are available.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph Matthew
  • 13-05-2019

just what I needed.

I couldn't think of a much better class to take on personalities. very thorough explanation. I am definitely going to listen to this again and again.