7 of the best psychology books to read in 2022

It’s an age-old question – how deep down can a person really change? In my book, be whoever you want, I searched for an answer in the fascinating world of personality psychology. I read extensively to find out what contemporary psychology considers to be the fundamental traits that make us who we are, and most exciting, if we can choose to change them.

The following seven books I have drawn on will help you better understand who you are now and who you could become.

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7 of the best psychology books

The Art and Science of Personality Development

Dan P McAdams

Contemporary scientific psychology views human personality as composed of five key traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. In his 2015 book, American psychology professor Dan P McAdams introduces readers to these traits, explains their relative stability and powerful consequences for our lives.

Importantly, McAdams explains, there’s more to who you are than your basic traits — you’re also defined by your goals and the stories you tell about your own life. What I found particularly inspiring was his exploration of how these elements of your identity can interact with your core traits – suggesting that by changing your goals and your personal story, you can begin to transform who you are. are.


Insight book cover by Tasha Eurich

Tasha Eurich

One argument I make in my book is that before embarking on a journey of deliberate personality change, you need to make an honest and realistic assessment of the kind of person you are today. Similarly, in her 2017 book, American business psychologist Eurich argues that self-understanding is the “meta-skill” of the 21st century.

Of course, there are various personality tests you can take online, and it makes sense to ask trusted friends and relatives to rate you on these tests as well (after all, we all have blind spots on our faces). own features).

However, beyond these basic tests, Eurich offers various fun and creative ways to find out more about yourself and how you would like to change, for example by asking yourself the so-called “miracle question” – If a miracle happened overnight and a change happened in you that affected many aspects of your life for good, what would that change be?

I’m sorry, I’m late, I didn’t want to come

I'm sorry I'm late I didn't mean to come by Jessica Pan book cover

jessica pan

While there are many benefits to being introverted, such as the ability to work quietly without constantly craving fun distractions, there are also good reasons why people might want to learn how to become more social and outgoing – many studies show that, on average, extroverts are happier, have better health, and have more friends than introverts.

But is such a transformation realistic? An introvert myself, I was inspired by Pan’s hilarious memoir published in 2020, in which she describes how she came out of her own introverted shell and spent a year living as a full-fledged extrovert, including standing up and joining an improv group.

Live more, think less

Live more, think less Pia Callesen

Pia Callesen

When people are asked which character trait they would most like to change, the most popular choice is to become less neurotic, that is, to enjoy greater emotional stability and spend less time to worry.

Encouragingly, a growing body of research suggests that various forms of psychotherapy can lead to reductions in trait neuroticism. One of the most promising approaches is so-called metacognitive therapy, which is the focus of clinical psychologist Pia Callesen’s 2017 book.

For all the chronic worriers, one of her tips is to set aside time each day to express your worries, either by thinking about them or writing them down. If you do this, it will be much easier for you to let go of your anxious thoughts at other times of the day.

rebel ideas

Book cover of Rebellious Ideas by Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed

A nugget that surprised me the most when reading background for be whoever you want were the profound implications of the trait of openness to experience. It describes your willingness not only to try new things and go to unfamiliar places, but also to consider alternative viewpoints and arguments.

People who score high in this trait tend to be more creative, and they are even less vulnerable to dementia later in life. A book that will help you exploit your opening is Syed’s book rebel ideas. Through compelling case studies, he demonstrates the value of diverse thinking and the ability to approach problems with an open mind.


Cover of the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal

When it comes to succeeding in school and work, the most important personality trait is conscientiousness – this includes your order and self-discipline. Luckily, you’re not stuck with your current levels of this trait.

A lesson I discovered from my research on be whoever you want is that aspects of our personality are related to skills. Whatever your natural inclinations, you can learn to become more focused, thereby heightening your awareness. Eyal’s 2019 book is one of the best I’ve come across to help you do just that.

Unlike many other books in its genre, it doesn’t blame our collective loss of focus on social media and digital devices. Rather, it teaches you to understand why you’re tempted to seek out a distraction (whether from your phone or elsewhere) and how to take improvement action, such as reframing a task to make it more exciting or reminding yourself your larger goals. One of the consequences of reading his book is that you are bound to see your consciousness increase.

The wisdom of psychopaths

Book cover of The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton

Kevin Duton

Besides the so-called Big Five personality traits, many psychologists also recognize three other dimensions of our characters, reflecting the so-called “dark side” of human nature – narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. It is generally understood that while these traits are morally dubious, they have evolved because they each provide certain benefits.

Take narcissists – with their surface confidence and bravado, they tend to grab attention and make a positive first impression (even if it fades quickly). In be whoever you wantI explore if we can borrow some of the benefits of dark traits, without slipping to the dark side.

To help, I read Dutton’s book – The wisdom of psychopaths – in which he explores the notion of “successful psychopathy,” based on the idea that there are benefits to this trait, including having “fearless dominance,” which allows some ruthless people to excel in certain areas such as politics and special forces operations.

One way to channel this attitude into your own life (without becoming a full-fledged psychopath!) is to interpret difficult situations as challenges rather than threats, such as focusing on what you can control and seeing experience as a learning experience. rather than a test.

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