Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are by Daniel Nettle [Actionable Summary]

This is a comprehensive summary of the book Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are by Daniel Nettle. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get full access.

The Book in Three or More Sentences:

Wondering why two people with the same set of experiences behave differently in a situation? You’re not the only one. In this book, Daniel Nettle uncovers the differences between us. According to the research shared inside, there are five big personality types (a.k.a the Big Five): Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientious, Agreeableness, and Openness. By categorizing them, the author wants to help us spot both our negative and positive sides. This way, we can reduce the amount of stupid decisions we make and improve the chances of bringing the best of us.

The Core Idea:

Understand your personality, don’t try to change it. That’s the whole concept of the book. Once you figure out what are your advantages, and your biggest flaws, to find an area, and proper surroundings, that will reinforce your positive side, not your worst one.


  • Understanding other people, and yourself, will help you spot behavior patters.
  • Figuring out your personality type will allow you to find flaws in your “system.”
  • Changing your personality is a dead end. You should try to adjust your behavior.

6 Key Lessons from Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are:

Lesson #1: The Importance of Understanding the Personality Types

We all seem to have different tastes and desires. Yet, when you look closely, the differences are not as big as we anticipated. The five-factor model introduced by Daniel Nettle aims to bring some order and help us predict, or at least partly, our own, and others, actions and motives.

And why do you want to do that?

You can surely survive life without having to spend time understanding the desires and the motives of the surrounding people, right?

Yes, you surely can, but figuring out what fuels others can help you on many occasions like find good-fit partners, avoid unnecessary conflicts with loved ones, spot frauds who want to deceive and take advantage of you, and most importantly: figure out your deepest needs and drives.

“If for each environment there is a best organism, for each organism there is a best environment.” Lee Cronbach

And what happens if you don’t know what are your advantages and your disadvantages?

For a long period of time, you won’t act in line with your natural instincts. You will try different things, only to find out later that you hate doing them.

For each personality, there are lots of ways of things working badly and only a few ways of things ending on a positive note.

By taking the time to study the different characteristics of the known to man personalities, you’ll reduce the time wandering around not knowing what to do. Therefore, focus on improving your most promising skills.

Finally, once you know where your persona is best suited for, head towards there.

Lesson #2: Understanding Extraversion/Wanderers – Main Characteristics

Defining characteristic:

Extraversion – highly responsive towards capturing rewards.

Overview of the personality type:

Relentless. Never quite satisfied. Ambitious. Risk-taker. Easily gets bored and distracted. Always looking for new thrills and excitements.


Quickly loses interest and gets careless of what they already have. This sloppy behavior often gets them in trouble. They spend a lot of money on things in order to feel good. Their relationships are unstable. Prone to activities that, for most people, seem pointless and costly. Going out partying, getting into some crazy new hobby, looking for ways to gain more status, having an affair, or buying a new sports car are just some of the things they might get involved in.


Their go-getting personality is constantly looking for ways to reach new heights. People with a high score of Extraversion are in an endless pursuit of things they don’t currently have and are usually the ones who push the world to new achievements. Wanderers are quite good at spotting new opportunities and finding solutions when everything seems lost. Or in other words, they are the ones to count on when not in a favorable environment.

“More than anything, it is evident that he wants to do all these things not because he actually needs to, but because he gets a tremendously powerful buzz out of taking on challenges and capturing the rewards.” Daniel Nettle

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