Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved the examples of personality types I enjoyed learning about the components of personality. It could get a little overwhelming at times mentioning the high and low parts of each component but the examples given were very helpful in sorting it out. The genetic part really brought into focus being “wired” a certain way. As I learned, I could determine some people in my life who overcame certain environmental aspects of their personalities. I really enjoyed this course.
Date published: 2020-05-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lacks Objectivity Biased and steeped in old stereotypes. The studies may be objective, but the cherry-picked examples and visuals are not.
Date published: 2020-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Investigations into Human Personality I have taken numerous Great Courses and this one ranks right near the top. I have read several pop-psychology books and had a poor Psych 101 class. This course helped tie my reading together. Professor Learys style is relaxed and easy to follow without being academic. I found it informative, interesting and useful. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to understand himself or other people better.
Date published: 2020-05-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Weird stage set I have not actually finished this course yet. I am writing because I wonder if anyone else is annoyed by the stage set behind the professor? There is a point where it seems to recede to a point further back, but you never see that actual part of the set. It is extremely distracting. I can't figure out why it is set up like this.
Date published: 2020-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solid and very useful infromation that can be used This course provide very useful information to better understand myself and those I interact with. Prof. Leary provided a well structured course that provided excellent examples with practical explanations. I enjoyed the either 24 lectures.
Date published: 2020-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable course for managers I thik this course, or an equivalent would be valuable for anyone in a personell management or supervisory role.I hoping to learn more about the kinds of experiences that inspire the traits discussed. They were discusseda little in the last half of the course.
Date published: 2020-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative and helpful The course gives clear, evidence based information about personalities. The information given should be widely taught to inform the public about the topic. Perhaps with this information, we can start to move towards more functional societies (yes - I do score high in agreeableness and conscientiousness:))
Date published: 2019-07-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Promises way more than it delivers Uninformative and revoltingly left-wing presentation. Way too much relevant data left out.
Date published: 2019-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses I've ever taken! I can't say enough good things about this course. The content was so substantive and well organized, and the delivery by Professor Leary was outstanding! I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in better understanding their own cognitive processes, emotions, and behavior, and those of their friends and colleagues.
Date published: 2019-05-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A useful course marred by bias This course has a great deal of information that will be extremely useful for me and for my kids as they navigate through life. Knowing what makes others tick is an essential skill that I hope this course will impart to them. This course outlines a lot of research in an accessible and engaging format. Those words said, I think I have to mention something about Lecture 10 in the series. I have listened to close to 300 courses from The Great Courses. Lecture 10 is quite possibly the single worst lecture I've heard from this company. It insulted me as a person and it insulted my intelligence. That execrable lecture discusses the Authoritarian Personality. It's worth mentioning in the very beginning that the first major book on that topic was written by a Marxist by the name of Theodor Adorno. That critically important fact goes unmentioned in the lecture. It seems as if the lecture was based on Adorno's work. Let's check some of the material from the course guidebook: "The characteristic that seems most central to authoritarianism involves rigid adherence to conventional, mainline, usually middle-class attitudes and values. People who score high in authoritarianism believe that their own conventional beliefs, values, and lifestyles are the only right ones and that people who don’t share their cultural beliefs and values and who don’t live like they do are wrong, if not somehow evil." The professor goes on to explain that such Authoritarian attitudes are associated with fervent patriotism and fundamentalist religious beliefs. I'm both a patriot and a religious man. But that description doesn't apply to me or anybody I know on the Right. Further, can we identify people on the left who believe that those who don't live and believe as they do are not just wrong but evil? Like people harassing others in MAGA hats? Like network news corporations who expose children to ridicule for wearing a MAGA hat? How about Antifa rioters? How about people ruining others' lives because they depart from left-wing orthodoxy. None of this is to suggest that the typical leftist is an authoritarian. The point is that we can all observe that Authoritarianism is a trait that characterizes people of all political stripes and religious values, not just those of us on the Right. It seems to me that a lot of psychological research has been done to demonstrate that those of us on the right are somehow defective and evil. Ironically, the course guide book suggests the work of Robert Altemeyer on right wing authoritarianism, without noting that the same researcher has published work on left-wing authoritarianism as well. The New Yorker (no right wing rag this!) published an article in 2018 entitled "How Social Science Might Be Misunderstanding Conservatives." Shame on the Great Courses for allowing a lecture that gratuitously smears a large percentage of its customers! Shame on this professor for his sloppy work in this lecture!
Date published: 2019-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So informative and helpful. So glad I bought this course. It has helped me to understand myself as well as others behavior.
Date published: 2019-02-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Must return it Catalog, website, and package all state CC [closed captioning for hearing impaired]. I am hearing impaired, and this DVD is NOT CC'd
Date published: 2019-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought this a while back in order to expand on other courses I have purchased over the years.
Date published: 2019-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Human Personality Deeply Introspective. Interesting. Better understanding of self.
Date published: 2019-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Archaeology I love, love, love this. I've always had a passion for learning and this answers that craving in the comfort of my own home and is there for me whenever my busy life permits. I'll be a lifelong customer!
Date published: 2019-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from welcome addition I have viewed most of The Great Courses that deal with the human brain and human behavior. This new course which emphasizes traits is a welcome addition.Its emphasis on the variety of traits provides an additional way of understanding the diversity of human personalities and why.
Date published: 2019-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Personality described succinctly and simply. This course is an important update for my previous studies. It helps me understand myself and others based on characteristic traits. Good for work. Good for friends and family to understand each other more.
Date published: 2019-01-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Why you are who you are I bought this several weeks ago and am still unable to have access to it on line....so: I'd love to review it, if only I had access to it.
Date published: 2019-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gereat Foundational Course and Presentation I do not have a college background in psychology other than the basics long ago. I found this course to be a fresh update explaining new ideas and theories that have emerged. I also found it easy to follow and presented in a logical orderly way. You won't find lots about any 1 subject in personality studies here but what you will get is the information background you need to appreciate the way the field is moving.
Date published: 2018-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is why they call theses the Great Cour The entire presentation was perfect. From the personality of the professor, tone of voice, and easy explanations of all the concepts. One might suspect it would be a dry course, but it was everything but dry. It is one of the very few courses I wanted to be sure to watch one lecture per day without skipping any days.
Date published: 2018-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Billy Bob Thornton ROCKS! Great course! Outstanding presenter with a balanced approach. He does a fantastic job of making clear when studies are lacking and caveats findings when necessary. The lectures are very thought provoking and has helped me understand better the people I work with and myself. You were great in Sling Blade! :) Just kidding but I couldn't help thinking Billy Bob Thornton was teaching this lecture. Great professor and I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2018-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great information, useful, to the point. I am happy to recommend this lecture series. I think it is pitched at the right level with plenty of useful points. It flows logically and I like the lecturer and his voice, pacing and style. I will be re-listening.
Date published: 2018-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I think Dr. Leary is a fine lecturer. I’ve been enjoying this so much I have gotten several more classes.
Date published: 2018-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent insights into Our Personality! Outstanding course loaded with thought provoking insights about how we become who we are. I am currently writing a personal memoir at age 71. As I look back at how I became the person I am, in addition to childhood friends/groups I transitioned through time with and their impact on me, this course provided many aha moments to aid in my understanding. Professor Leary is excellent in guiding the listener through The Big 5 personality traits and their establishment in our essence, in addition to many other impacts . I listen to some courses early in the morning (4:30 a.m.) with my coffee, and this lecture set was perfect. I did the video option which is my preference, but audio version would be good also. Excellent course and Professor! I look forward to other sets from Professor Leary. I have purchased well over 250 lecture sets and am addicted the The Great Courses. As an adjunct professor since 1993 (undergrad - Ph.D), I continually get the comment on student evaluations: "How do you know so much about so many things?. Thank You, The Great Courses!!
Date published: 2018-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting class, masterfully delivered I really enjoy this class. It is full of information in each class and delivered in such an interesting way, it is easy to 'binge watch'!
Date published: 2018-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Course from Dr. Leary! Dr. Kevin Leary gives another great course, this time in Investigations into Human Personality. I took a Psych of Personality course in college over 20 years ago, and enjoyed it. This was not only a good reminder, but a great update on all of the current research on personality. A lot has happened in 20 years! It's not just factual, but insightful as well, as you see these concepts applied every day and every where. I also enjoy Dr. Leary's courses, and wish I had him as a professor in college! I highly recommend this. Great research, great examples, great presentation. All in all, this one knocks it out of the park.
Date published: 2018-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is one of the most cogent courses I've taken. The speaker is outstanding with the ability to make difficult topics clear and easy to understand. I have purchased a second course with him as the instructor.
Date published: 2018-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I learned so much about people. There is quite a bit of material in this course. But Dr. Leary presents in such an engaging manner that you look forward to the next lecture. Consider this an upper-division course in behavioral psychology, without having to write papers or take tests.
Date published: 2018-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enlightening; Thought Provoking Psychology has always been somewhat of a puzzle to me - and it still is. But this course did clear up areas of confusion for me especially updating my understanding of certain topics within the scope of the broad subject. Did I learn more about myself (or at least see different possibilities defining parts of me)? Of course I did, and that expands the possible conclusions I must consider. These I'll ponder over time. The course also opened up other possibilities to me for viewing past relationships for which I thought my conclusions were final. Maybe that is an advance for me in maturation and a broadening of the understanding of life and myself. I'll reserve any final conclusion for now. I do recommend this course if for no other reason than it offers fodder for future ideas and contemplation, not only about oneself but also about ones personal interactions with others. I enjoyed the Professor's lectures and delivery.
Date published: 2018-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modern Evidence answers ancient questions I've seen several lecture series on YouTube and read a few textbook about personality but most limit themselves to old Jungian and Freudian ideas. This is focused on the modern big 5, describing how the theory came to be and why it's better than type theories in the first lecture (which also outlines factor analysis and heritability without any mathematics - an impressive feat!). Key experiments are described and the links between personality and other aspects of psychology like cognition are clearly outlined. The lecturer is an engaging presenter, who sometimes presents his own view on a controversial topic (the nature of internal motivations for example) but he fairly outlines the alternative views beforehand so telling us where his biases lie is just treating us like adults. He gets a bit philosophical in the last 2 lectures but he earns that with how informative the other 90% of the course is.
Date published: 2018-07-07
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Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality
Course Trailer
What Is Personality?
1: 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
2: 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?
3: 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
4: 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
5: 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
6: 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
7: 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
8: 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
9: 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
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.


University of Florida


Duke University

About Mark Leary

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.

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