Alumnus Dr Christian Jarrett (BSc Psychology 1999) has written a new book, 'Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change', which is being published in May.
Today, more than ever, we are aware of the power of personality. Are we introverts, extroverts, neurotic, open-minded? Psychology has always taught that there are personality types, some advantageous, some often seen as less so, and the common perception is that we're stuck with what we're given. The introvert will never break out of their shell, the narcissist will be forever trapped gazing into the mirror (or endlessly tweeting about perceived attacks on their brilliance).
Be Who You Want argues that contrary to the old adage, not only can the leopard change his spots, he can swap them for stripes, and that he can do so to his own advantage. In psychological terms, although our initial personality type is moulded by a combination of genetic influences and early experiences, it is not fixed. It's malleable, voluntary even. This book will tell the story of how our personalities are formed and gives us the tools to shape them in the ways which we desire and which will benefit us most. Drawing on the latest psychological theories and methods, interviews with leading experts, as well as personal anecdote, Christian Jarrett shows us that we can shape ourselves in ways that make our lives better.
The book provides evidence-based ways to change each of the main five personality traits, including how to become more emotionally stable, extrovert and open-minded. It also delves into the upsides of the so-called Dark Triad of personality traits - narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy - and how we might exploit their advantages without ourselves going over to the dark side.
A cognitive neuroscientist by training, Christian is Deputy Editor of Psyche, a global digital magazine that illuminates the human condition. Christian has written about psychology and neuroscience for publications across the world, including BBC Future, WIRED, New York magazine, New Scientist, GQ Italia and The Guardian. He was the founding editor and creator of the British Psychological Society's Research Digest, presenter of their PsychCrunch podcast, and an award-winning journalist on The Psychologist magazine. His other books include The Rough Guide to Psychology and Great Myths of The Brain.