Brian Little in TIME magazine | The Upside of Being an Introvert

(And why extroverts are overrated)
by Bryan Walsh

Cover of TIME magazine Feb. 2012

Brian Little in this month's TIME magazine cover story.

“Take Brian Little. He’s a research psychologist and superstar academic lecturer, his class on personality at Harvard was perennially one of the most popular at the university. He’s also a serious introvert…”

TIME subscribers can read the full article online.

Acting Out of Character in the Immortal Profession: Toward a Free Trait Agreement

By Brian R. Little  |  From the April-May 2010 Issue of Academic Matters

-Sometimes, the academic life demands that faculty deny their fundamental personality traits. But if collegial respect includes allowing colleagues the latitude to nurture their true characters, academics can survive and thrive amidst the challenges of academic life.

It often comes down to personality. Despite the candidate’s obvious brilliance, tenure is denied. The comment “insufferably arrogant,” uttered almost sotto voce just before the vote, helps tip the scales.  Across campus a dedicated but painfully shy associate professor is reading the term’s teaching evaluations and, once again, is simply devastated. And over at the faculty club, a newly minted Professor Emeritus bounces into the retirement party to find only three attendees at the event, trying in vain to create the illusion of a throng. Later, at the bar, the reluctant pseudo-celebrants agree on one thing — this wouldn’t have happened to any of their other colleagues. Personality matters. Continue reading

Personality Science and the Northern Tilt: As Positive as Possible Under the Circumstances

Book: Designing Positive Psychology
In K. M. Sheldon,T. B. Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (2011).
Designing Positive Psychology: Taking Stock and Moving Forward
New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 228-247.

Introduction: Positive Psychology and Personality Science

Positive psychology and personality science emerged virtually simultaneously as the new millennium appeared on our horizon. The aspirations and research agendas of these two intellectual movements overlap yet their core tasks differ.[i] The central concern of positive psychology is to reorient  psychology to positive features of human conduct that have been understudied in conventional psychology such as hope, happiness, exceptional accomplishment, virtuous action and human flourishing (Sheldon, Frederickson, Rathunde, Csikszentmihalyi & Haidt, 2000.)  In exploring these topics positive psychology is concerned with aspects of human thought, feeling and action that are, in Peterson’s (2006) terms, “north of neutral.” Personality science, the hub of which is an invigorated and expanded personality psychology, aims to explore and integrate the full range of diverse influences on personality drawing on disciplines ranging from molecular genetics to narrative theory (Cervone & Mischel, 2002a; Little, 2005, 2006). Its explorations extend both north and south of neutral. I suggest that the geographic center of personality science is essentially equatorial.

My goal for this chapter is to reflect on how these two movements have co-evolved and how they may continue to do so.  The key substantive question I explore is this: to what extent and in what ways are positive emotions, orientations, and actions critical for human well-being? Drawing on research in personality science I will make the case that for some individuals, under certain circumstances, adopting what I will call a northern tilt will be highly adaptive. Under other circumstances, however, an upward bound approach to life might be less adaptive.  At its worst, unmitigated positivity might catch us unawares and bring us to our knees. Continue reading