| August 22, 2017


Podcast #332: What Does It Mean to Be Authentic?

We live in a world that puts a premium on being “authentic” and “showing your true self.” 

But what exactly is your authentic and true self?

For example, is it your natural tendency to be a curmudgeon, or your concerted effort to be kind and generous? 

Which one is the “real” you?

My guest today has grappled with those questions for most of his career as a psychologist, with a focus on personality research. His name is Brian Little and he’s the author of Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, as well as the recently published book, Who Are You, Really?

Today on the show, Brian and I have a fascinating discussion on the world of personality science that will leave you wondering who you really are. We begin our conversation discussing the various factors that influence our personalities, including genetics, social environments, and self-direction. Brian then digs into the debate on whether our personalities are set in stone or if they can change, even into old age. We then discuss whether personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs, actually tell you anything about your personality. 

We end our conversation discussing how simply changing environments can change our personalities, how we can willfully change them ourselves, and what the “real” you actually is.

You’re in for an enlightening existential conversation that also provides actionable insights on how you can live a more flourishing life.

Show Highlights

  • What exactly is personality, as defined by science?
  • The ancient history and study of personality
  • The interplay of nature and nurture when it comes to personality
  • What is a personal construct?
  • “Person” specialists vs. “thing” specialists, and how men and women differ here
  • Do personality tests actually tell us anything useful?
  • The Big Five personality traits — the O.C.E.A.N. acronym
  • The importance of conscientiousness
  • What are the benefits downsides of being neurotic?
  • Introversion vs extroversion
  • How situations and environments shape our personality, and how that differs from person to person
  • What are “free traits”?
  • Using free traits to help us with our core personal projects
  • Why acting out of character isn’t always a bad thing
  • Using “restorative niches” to recover from acting out of character
  • What authenticity really means when it comes to personality
  • The three forms of authenticity — biogenic, sociogenic, and idiogenic

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

me myself and us book cover brian little

Me, Myself, and Us is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read. It provides so many insights into why we are the way we are, and really gets you thinking about what it means to be “you.” Also check out his new book, Who Are You, Really?, based on his popular TED talk.

Connect With Brian Little

Brian on Twitter

Brian’s website

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)






Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Podcast Sponsors

Squarespace. Creating a website has never been different. Start your free trial today at Squarespace.com and enter code “manliness” at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

The Great Courses Plus. Unlimited audio and video lectures about topics that will make you a better man. Get one month FREE by signing up exclusively at thegreatcoursesplus.com/aom.

Read the Transcript

Coming soon!

Last updated: August 28, 2017

Continue the Conversation ...

Want to share your thoughts on this article? Send us a tweet or join the discussion on Facebook!