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Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality

Award-winning Professor Mark R. Leary explores the many ways our behavior affects our life through the intriguing science of our personalities.
Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 72.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting course with a good lecturer My wife is a retired Special Education teacher. I have taken psychology courses through the graduate level before I decided to take my life in a different direction. As such we both have an interest in Human Behavior. Professor Mark Leary is a good lecturer and took what was a new direction on exploring this subject… at least for me. My psychology classes were so long ago that they were still teaching a lot of Freud!!! Or at one point I approached understanding my fellow humans from a transaction analysis as developed by Eric Bern. It can be argued that TA is Freudian at its core. Professor Leary’s approach was by analyzing the Big Five key personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness. We both enjoyed the series of lecturers and came away feeling like we learned quite a bit.
Date published: 2024-06-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Makes the Best of It I'm skeptical of most claims about psychology. But Professor Leary is such an excellent lecturer, he held my attention from beginning to end.
Date published: 2023-09-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing lectures I have never studied psychology and, if this is psychology, I don't think much of it! I could only stand watching the first eight of these lectures ( I also watched lecture 22 to see if they improved later on in the course). The points made by Professor Leary seemed so trite and self-evident - different people have different character traits, different people experience varying degrees of emotion, etc. Personality types and traits as presented by Professor Leary seemed highly simplistic. In my opinion, reading Shakespeare or another great writer would give you a much better insight into human nature.
Date published: 2023-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life long learning Very informative. The course gives me a lot to think about and a good insite to the personalities of people I work with every day.
Date published: 2022-04-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed In the first section, I noticed this professor's lecture to be quite biased and borderline racist. Whenever a negative behavior trait was discussed, such as anger for example, the graphic or photo shown would more than likely be of a brown or black person. Also thought that his explanation of introverted and extraverted personalities is off base and based on generalizations and typical assumptions. Nothing in this lecture seems to be based on facts or studies
Date published: 2022-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful lecture series I spontaneously bought this as a bundle with another series on human emotion. I didn't expect to actually watch it in its entirety. I decided to check it out and I'm glad it did. It's a surprisingly engaging lecture series that doesn't overstep its bounds by giving exceptions to any claims on personality and describing the science behind its conclusions. I now have a better understanding of my own personality as well as those I know well and potentially people I may get to know better.
Date published: 2022-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life -changing!! Over the years, I took a few psychology courses in college, read a number of self-help books, and purchased several TGC courses on self-improvement with little impact. That all changed when I took "Investigations into Human Personality" by Dr. Mark Leary. There are two critical differences which separate this course from the others: (1) While the other courses came across as a hodgepodge of unrelated ideas of questionable utility, Dr. Leary organized the material by order of real-life impact. (2) Rather than presenting the material in the typical self-help style of "giving advice", Dr. Leary chose instead to present a series of broad concepts and ideas which the viewer can then use to analyze themselves and their acquaintances. This slight change in approach has a tremendous impact in terms of usefulness insofar as the viewer feels no pressure to change and thus no implied judgment based upon perceived success or failure. My advice to anyone who is contemplating purchasing any self-improvement courses from TGC is to start with "Investigations into Human Personality" first. With the logical foundation in place that this course provides, I strongly feel that the viewer will get much more out of the other courses, including Dr. Leary's companion course "Mysteries of Human Behavior".
Date published: 2021-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shifting our mindset can make a big difference An excellent course. I especially enjoyed very much the following lectures: 5 on neurons and neurochemicals, 32 Phycological disorders, 33 Mood and anxiety disorders and 34 addiction.
Date published: 2021-08-17
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What makes you different from other people? And what makes you-sometimes-the same? Designed as a fascinating, accessible scientific inquiry, the 24 lectures of Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality, will have you thinking about your personality in a way that leaves you enriched and better informed about what makes you, you.


Mark Leary

Most of the important things that happen in life involve our encounters and relationships with other people. I became interested in scientific psychology to help us understand both ourselves and the people with whom we interact.


Duke University

Professor Mark Leary is Garonzik Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, where he heads the program in Social Psychology and is faculty director of the Duke Interdisciplinary Initiative in Social Psychology. He earned his bachelor's degree in Psychology from West Virginia Wesleyan College and his master's and doctoral degrees in Social Psychology from the University of Florida. He has taught previously at Denison University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Wake Forest University, where he served as department chair. Professor Leary has published 12 books and more than 200 scholarly chapters and articles on topics dealing with social motivation and emotion and the negative effects of excessive egotism and self-focus. He has been particularly interested in the ways in which people's emotions, behaviors, and self-views are influenced by their concerns with other people's perceptions and evaluations of them. Professor Leary's books include Social Anxiety; Self-Presentation: Impression Management and Interpersonal Behavior; The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life; Handbook of Self and Identity; and Introduction to Behavioral Research Methods. Based on his scholarly contributions, the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin designated him among the top 40 social and personality psychologists in the world with the greatest impact. In 2010, he received the Lifetime Career Award from the International Society for Self and Identity. In addition, he was the founding editor of the journal Self and Identity and is currently the editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review. He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

By This Professor

Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior
Your Public Persona: Self-Presentation in Everyday Life
Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality
Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality


What Is Personality?

01: What Is Personality?

In this introductory lecture, ground your understanding of personality in the concept of “proportion-of-variability,” which tells us how strongly related a particular personality characteristic is to behaviors, emotions, or other characteristics. As an example, you’ll consider a case study of the causes of delinquent behavior in teenage boys.

33 min
Key Traits: Extraversion and Neuroticism

02: Key Traits: Extraversion and Neuroticism

There are five key traits that best help us understand a person’s behavior. Here, explore the two traits that give you the broadest picture of what a person is like. The first: extraversion, or your level of sociability. The second: neuroticism, the degree to which you experience negative emotions.

33 min
Are You Agreeable? Conscientious? Open?

03: Are You Agreeable? Conscientious? Open?

Examine the three remaining building blocks of personality. You’ll learn about agreeableness, the degree to which you have a positive or negative orientation toward others; conscientiousness, the degree to which you’re responsible; and openness, or your receptivity to new experiences and idea. Plus, consider a sixth personality trait that’s starting to get attention.

32 min
Basic Motives Underlying Behavior

04: Basic Motives Underlying Behavior

What motivates you to do the things you do each and every day? Professor Leary explores three motives that instigate and energize people’s behavior: the motive to interact with other people, the motive to achieve and be successful, and the motive to influence other people.

31 min
Intrapersonal Motives

05: Intrapersonal Motives

There are other motives that underlie behavior—ones that don’t involve getting anything from the outside world. What are the benefits of these motives? After considering the Freudian roots of the subject, learn about three fascinating intrapersonal motives: for psychological consistency, for self-esteem, and for authenticity.

32 min
Positive and Negative Emotionality

06: Positive and Negative Emotionality

A large part of who you are as a person depends on the kinds of emotions you experience as you walk through life. In this lecture, look at our general tendencies to experience positive and negative emotions. What, exactly, are emotions? What leads some people to have more positive – or negative – emotions than others?

32 min
Differences in Emotional Experience

07: Differences in Emotional Experience

In addition to the general tendency to feel good and bad, we also differ in the degree to which we experience specific emotions such as anger, joy, guilt, and sadness. These tendencies, too, are an important part of your personality. As you’ll learn, they help explain why different people respond to the same event in different ways.

32 min
Values and Moral Character

08: Values and Moral Character

When we talk about someone’s character, we’re referring to the degree to which that person tends to behave in ethical (or unethical) ways. In this illuminating lecture, take a look at moral aspects of personality from four critical angles: values, moral foundations, virtues, and character strengths.

33 min
Traits That Shape How You Think

09: Traits That Shape How You Think

Turn your attention to cognitive aspects of personality: characteristics related to people’s styles of thinking. Here, Professor Leary focuses on four cognitive characteristics that involve differences in the degree to which people are curious, make decisions quickly, critically evaluate their beliefs, and enjoy thinking.

32 min
Beliefs about the World and Other People

10: Beliefs about the World and Other People

You are who you are partly because of the beliefs that you hold. Discover several big, broad beliefs that function like personality traits. These include people’s beliefs about human nature, fairness, and the beliefs and attitudes that underlie authoritarianism.

32 min
Beliefs about Yourself

11: Beliefs about Yourself

Your beliefs about yourself have a dramatic impact on how you feel and behave. Take a closer look at four types of self-related beliefs: identity (who you think you are), self-efficacy (what you’re capable of doing), self-esteem (your evaluation of yourself), and self-compassion (how you think about yourself when bad things happen).

32 min
Personality and Social Relationships

12: Personality and Social Relationships

Some of the most important differences among people involve their ways of relating to others. First, examine the differences in people’s attachment styles. Then, consider the tactics people use to persuade and influence others (with a focus on Machiavellians). Finally, explore three aspects of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and empathic concern.

33 min
Consistency and Stability of Personality

13: Consistency and Stability of Personality

People obviously don’t act the same way all the time, and personalities do change over the course of a life (at least within limits). Yet people do show stability in how they tend to think, feel, and behave. In this lecture, learn about the complexities that make personality both stable and changeable.

33 min
Evolution and Human Nature

14: Evolution and Human Nature

The fact that certain personality characteristics can be seen in almost everybody probably reflects evolutionary processes. Learn why some aspects of behavior became part of a shared human personality; how some personality features evolved differently for men and women; and why people who live in different environments may develop different personalities.

32 min
Personality and the Brain

15: Personality and the Brain

All differences we see in people’s personalities are based on differences in what’s happening somewhere in their brains. Unpack research being done on the neuroscience of personality, with a focus on four aspects of anatomy and physiology that involve brain regions, neurotransmitters, hormones, and bodily rhythms.

33 min
Genetic Influences on Personality

16: Genetic Influences on Personality

Take a closer look at the ways in which the genes you inherited from your parents have contributed to your personality. Topics in this lecture include heritability studies; the role genes play in people’s attitudes; and how genes can change our environment in ways that then affect our personality.

33 min
Learning to Be Who You Are

17: Learning to Be Who You Are

Professor Leary explains four learning processes that influence how people’s personalities turn out: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, observational learning, and personal experience. It’s a lecture that’ll change how you think about the ways learning has helped make you who you are.

33 min
How Culture Influences Personality

18: How Culture Influences Personality

How might your personality have turned out differently if you’d grown up in a culture different from the one you grew up in? Explore this question by looking at several dimensions on which cultures differ: individualism versus collectivism, power distance, agentic versus communal orientations, and uncertainty avoidance.

33 min
Nonconscious Aspects of Personality

19: Nonconscious Aspects of Personality

Freud believed that much of what influences our behaviors occurs outside our conscious awareness. To understand people’s personalities, we have to consider unconscious processes—the topic of this lecture. What is our nonconscious? How can we determine someone’s nonconscious motives? How does this idea relate to behaviors like procrastination?

33 min
Personality and Self-Control

20: Personality and Self-Control

People differ in self-control, so understanding how we self-regulate is critical to understanding personality. After learning about the nature of self-regulation, examine the characteristics and skills that affect how well people control themselves. Then, learn important findings from studies of self-regulation in childhood and explore the relationship between self-regulation and impulsivity.

32 min
When Personalities Become Toxic

21: When Personalities Become Toxic

In the first of two lectures on the three broad clusters of personality disorders, consider the dramatic-emotional-erratic cluster, which includes the antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. As you’ll learn, these disorders all involve problems with emotional regulation and impulse control.

31 min
Avoidance, Paranoia, and Other Disorders

22: Avoidance, Paranoia, and Other Disorders

First, learn about a cluster of three personality disorders that involve excessive anxiety: the avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Then, explore a cluster that involves eccentric behaviors and distorted thinking: the paranoid personality disorder, the schizoid personality disorder, and the schizotypical personality disorder.

32 min
The Enigma of Being Yourself

23: The Enigma of Being Yourself

Should you try to always be yourself? Can you tell when you’re not being yourself? Professor Leary considers the possibility that authenticity has some serious problems as a psychological construct—that it’s either not what we assume it is, or that it’s not as important as we typically think.

29 min
The Well-Adjusted Personality

24: The Well-Adjusted Personality

Conclude the course by drawing on much of what you’ve learned in the preceding lectures to look at the relationship between personality and healthy psychological adjustment. You’ll learn the five key ingredients of adjustment, traits that are associated with good adjustment, and more.

37 min