Friday, 23 November 2012

Book Review - Por Que Voce e Assim (Why You Are the Way You Are) by Otavio Cohen

Personality is something we hear about and take for granted every day. Yet being the way we are has a massive effect on our everyday life. In Por Que Voce e Assim (Why You Are the Way You Are) Otavio Cohen explores the very idea of personality and how you can know yours better.

Shyness, seductive power, sensibility, reason. A little bit of all these form your personality. Some of these traits are very clear and inborn, others you have picked up along the way. Still the mixture of all of them in different doses makes you unique. It's time to unravel the mysteries of you personalities, understand why you are the way you are and finding out if you can improve it. 

Backed by some impressive research (you can think of worldwide university names being dropped here), Por Que Voce e Assim gives a very interesting insight into the concept of personality. Most importantly, it's not only easy to read, but also very entertaining. I loved all the analogies and the way with which Cohen delivers what is really a lot of information. 

With only 145 pages, this book is not a scientific thesis. It's also not a magic potion that will change the way you see yourself forever, so if you read it looking for deep answers you might be very disappointed.   Nonetheless, it's like an interesting documentary on the basic notions of personality - what are you prone to if you have a particular trait; where does the information we currently have on what is personality comes from; and how do we currently define it. 

Here is what I learned while reading this book: 
* Some of our traits have to do with genetics,
* According to Psychology we are all neurotic;
* Sometimes we lie to save energy and a little gossip and bad mood can be good;
* Seductive personalities are better at reading people's reactions and desires;
* Creativity and reading make a person less prompt to be manipulated;
* People who read are more sympathetic; 
* Being shy can make you a better scientist, thinker or writer;
* And finally, according to Myers-Briggs I'm an ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgment) and apparently 8 to 12% of the population shares these traits with me. 

Very interesting stuff. And as Cohen himself points out, Science doesn't usually give definitive answers, but a light to look at things differently. He also states that regardless of liking your personality or not, in the end of the day, your personality is the very thing that makes you unique and that will not change. 

Por Que Voce e Assim is part of a Brazilian book trilogy called Como as Pessoas Funcionam (How People Work) and it explores the scientific explanations to why we fall in love, feel anxious and, obviously, are the way we are. 

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