June 25, 2008

Habitus, Change and Personality

From Psychology Today:


Second Nature

by Kathleen McGowan

Your personality isn't necessarily set in stone. With a little experimentation, the ornery and bleak can reshape their temperaments and inject pluck and passion into their lives.

Call it the cult of the ugly duckling. We devour stories of personal transformation: the uptight guy who learns to cut loose, the wallflower who becomes the life of the party. It's the staple of self-help books and romantic comedies—as well as the primary reason that people drag themselves to high-school reunions. ("Can you believe that guy who never talked is now a real estate mogul?")

But psychologists have long believed that major personality makeovers are impossible. In fact, the big themes of personality—whether you are shy or outgoing, relaxed or a worrywart—seem to be scripted at a very young age.

However, personality researchers have begun looking more closely at the smaller ways we can and do change. Positive psychologists, who investigate human talents, have identified 24 character strengths—familiar qualities we admire, such as integrity, loyalty, kindness, vitality—and are limning them to find out why these faculties come so naturally to some people. What they're discovering is that many of these qualities amount to habitual ways of responding to the world—habits that can be learned...


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