Universiteit Leiden

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Labyrint Lustrum Openingslecture

Monday 27 September 2021
Scheltema Leiden
Marktsteeg 1
2312 CS Leiden

Fates Beyond Traits: On Flourishing in Leiden
Professor Brian R. Little

Has your time in Leiden been happy and productive, or stressful and unfulfilling? Are your relationships challenging, or boring, or just about perfect? Are you flourishing or floundering, or simply muddling through? These kinds of questions arise often in our every-day work and social pursuits, and they underscore a vitally important point — personality plays a key role in whether our lives flounder or flourish. Drawing on the latest research in personality science, Professor Little explores how personality traits play a key role in how we make decisions, interact with others and handle the stresses of complex lives. But he believes strongly, and his research has shown, that we are not limited by our traits in our life trajectories. There are fates beyond traits. Critical to moving beyond traits are the “personal projects” we pursue in our lives. Professor Little reviews the implications of four decades of research on project pursuit carried out by him, his students, and colleagues. Finally, he discusses his own concept of “free traits”, in which people act out of character in the pursuit of their core personal projects. A highly introverted person may act extravertedly for months in order to fulfill her role at Labyrint. A rather neurotic person may steel himself to getting through an examination, creating the illusion of stability for a few days. What are the benefits and costs of enacting free traits? We will conclude that acting out of character can shape new possibilities if handled well, but if handled poorly it can bring us to our knees. From this perspective, human personality in Leiden can be intriguing, hilarious, complex, frustrating, noble, and massively consequential.

Interested in Professor Little’s research? Join us on September 27th for our opening lecture in Leiden! For Labyrint members a ticket costs €9,50 and non-members can buy a ticket for €12,50. The lecture will take place at the Scheltema Leiden, Marktsteeg 1 and will start at 8:00 PM and end around 9:30 PM. 

Can’t wait that long to hear more? Watch Professor Little’s TED-talk while you wait.

Read more and tickets

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