Our Personal Projects Can Create Compelling Idiogenic Motives

Brian Little, the author of the book mentioned below, was persuasively praised in Quiet, a book I liked a lot. (I have not yet read Little’s book.)

(p. 7) When we’re in danger of exhausting ourselves by exercising free traits that go against the grain of our fixed traits, he recommends the use of “restorative niches” in which to recover. After a morning of acting as a pseudo-extrovert on the lecture stage, Little confides, he restores his introverted nature by spending time alone in the men’s room. Alas, on one occasion an opposing personality came along to spoil his solitude. Little describes his biogenic fixed-trait response to the intruder: “I could feel my autonomic nervous system kicking in. He sat down in the cubicle next to me. I then heard various evacuatory noises — very loud, utterly unmuffled. We introverts really don’t do this; in fact, many of us flush during as well as after. Finally I heard a gruff, gravelly voice call out, ‘Hey, is that Dr. Little?’ He was an extravert — he wanted to chat!”
. . .
“Me, Myself, and Us” is most insightful when Little goes beyond polarized divisions — to explore, for example, the effects on our personalities of what he calls our “personal projects.” “Beyond the influence of the biogenic and sociogenic sources of motivation, there is another compelling influence on our daily behavior that I call idiogenic motives. They represent the plans, aspirations, commitments and personal projects that we pursue in the course of daily life.”

For the full review, see:
ANNIE MURPHY PAUL. “‘Who Do You Think You Are?” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., DEC. 28, 2014): 7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date DEC. 26, 2014, and has the title “‘Me, Myself, and Us,’ by Brian R. Little.”)

The book under review is:
Little, Brian R. Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being. New York: PublicAffairs, 2014.

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