On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, living joyfully, defending abortion rights, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 20 April 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Personality

  • Q&A: Overcoming Paralyzing Indecision: 28 Jan 2014, Question 2
  • Question: How can I overcome my paralyzing indecision? I am caught amid some difficult circumstances at present. To make matters worse, I suffer from almost paralyzing indecision about major life decisions, especially with respect to my career. As a result of my failure to act decisively, I have stagnated painfully for years, missing many opportunities. How can I break out of this horrible pattern?

    Tags: Decision-Making, Deliberation, Ethics, Personality, Psychology, Values

  • Q&A: The Role of Empathy in Morality: 3 Nov 2013, Question 2
  • Question: What is the relationship between empathy and morality? Must a person possess a strong sense of empathy to be moral? Is empathy an important quality of character or moral emotion – or the most important? What's the role of empathy in a rational person's life?

    Tags: Emotionalism, Emotions, Empathy, Ethics, Narcissism, Personality, Psychology, Rationality, Reason, Relationships

  • Interview: Paul Hsieh on Highlights from the Personality Theory Workshop: 23 Oct 2013
  • Summary: In early October, I gathered a few close friends in Atlanta to discuss the ins and outs of personality theory. We focused on various theories of personality, as well as the effects of personality differences at work, in parenting, in personal relations, and in activism. In this episode, my husband Paul and I shared the highlights.

    Tags: Communication, Ethics, Moral Wrongs, Personality, Psychology, Relationships

  • Q&A: Self-Confidence at Work: 8 Sep 2013, Question 2
  • Question: How can a person gain the self-confidence required to ask for a promotion at work? I know some people who don't socialize much, and they really seem to struggle during interviews for promotions. They seem to lack confidence in themselves. How can they gain it? Does that kind of self-confidence depend on social acceptance and support?

    Tags: Humility, Personality, Psychology, Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem, Work

  • Q&A: Achieving Practical Certainty: 18 Aug 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What must I do to reach certainty about a course of action? Suppose that I'm being careful in my thinking about a practical matter – perhaps about how to solve a problem at work, whether to move to a new city, whether to marry my girlfriend, or whether to cut contact with a problem friend. When can I say that I'm certain – or at least justified in acting on my conclusions? Given my personality type (INTP), I tend to leave questions open for far too long, when really, at some point, I need to close them. Are there any general guidelines or principles around figuring out what that point of closure should be? Even then, when should I revisit my conclusions, if ever?

    Tags: Aristotle, Deliberation, Epistemology, Ethics, Personality, Planning, Psycho-Epistemology, Rationality, Values

  • Q&A: Identifying Dangerous People: 4 Aug 2013, Question 1
  • Question: How can I better identify dangerous or immoral people in my life? I don't like to be morally judgmental about personality and other optional differences. In fact, I like being friends with a variety of kinds of people: that expands my own horizon. Yet I've been prey to some really awful people in my life. Looking back, I'd have to say that I ignored some signs of trouble – dismissing them as mere optional matters, as opposed to moral failures. How can I better differentiate "interesting" and "quirky" from "crazy" and "dangerous" in people I know?

    Tags: Character, Communication, Ethics, Friendship, Honesty, Integrity, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Virtue

  • Q&A: Innate Personality: 26 May 2013, Question 2
  • Question: Can personality be innate? In past shows, you've indicated that you think that some aspects of personality are innate, rather than acquired by experience. What does that mean? What is the evidence for that view? Moreover, wouldn't that be a form of determinism? Wouldn't that violate the principle that every person is born a "blank slate"?

    Tags: Determinism, Free Will, Personality, Psychology, Tabula Rasa

  • Q&A: Poor Communication from the Boss: 19 May 2013, Question 2
  • Question: How can I make my boss more communicative? My boss hardly ever tells me company news affecting my projects, even when critical. As a result, I've wasted days and weeks on useless work, and I've gotten into needless conflicts with co-workers. I'm always guessing at what I should be doing, and I just hate that. What can I do to make my boss to be more communicative with me?

    Tags: Business, Career, Communication, Job, Personality, Psychology

  • Q&A: Personality and Sense of Life: 5 May 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What is the relationship between personality and sense of life? What is the difference between them? How does a person's sense of life relate to his personality? Does understanding someone's sense of life help us to understand his personality and vice versa?

    Tags: Objectivism, Personality, Personal Values, Philosophy, Psychology, Sense of Life

  • Q&A: Declining to Socialize at Work: 10 Feb 2013, Question 3
  • Question: How can I politely tell my co-workers that I'm not interested in socializing? I have always struggled with the pressure to form friendships at work. Personally, I don't want to hang out with my coworkers after work. I don't want to chit chat during work. I won't want to celebrate birthdays or other personal events. This is always interpreted as me being snobbish, aloof, and worst of all "not a team player." It's so annoying. I just want to do a good job and then leave, not join a social club. How can I communicate that without being offensive?

    Tags: Communication, Friendship, Personality, Productivity, Psychological Visibility, Psychology, Relationships, Work

  • Q&A: Yelling at Employees: 3 Feb 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Is yelling at and shaming an employee ever justifiable? Imagine that a product at work must be shipped by a certain deadline – and if it's late, the company will suffer a major loss. All the workers involved know that, yet as the deadline approaches, one worker works slowly, seemingly without concern for the deadline. When reminded, he acknowledges the deadline, yet his work continues to be as slow as ever. In such cases, might yelling at that worker – even shaming him in front of co-workers – be just what he needs to motivate him to get the project done? If not, what else should be done?

    Tags: Ethics, Personality, Productivity, Psychology, Work

  • Q&A: The Value of Studying Personality: 3 Feb 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What is the value of understanding personality differences? You've become increasingly interested in personality theory lately. What are the major practical benefits of better understanding personality? Is understanding personality differences as important – or perhaps more important – than knowing philosophy?

    Tags: Ethics, Personality, Psychology

  • Q&A: Initiating Contact in Friendship: 6 Jan 2013, Question 2
  • Question: Should friends initiate contact with each other roughly equally? Some of my friends never initiate contact with me. They are friendly, loyal, and otherwise great friends. But for any interaction or get-togethers, I must initiate conversation, suggest activities, and so on. Sometimes, I feel as if I value the friendship much, much more than the other person does. Is that an accurate assessment or is something else going on? Should I just seek other friends? Should I talk to these friends about this issue? (If so, what should I say?)

    Tags: Communication, Friendship, Personality, Psychology

  • Q&A: Rooting for Antiheroes: 25 Nov 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Is it wrong to root for antiheroes in movies? I often root for characters like Daniel Ocean (of Ocean's 11, 12, etc.), Erik Draven (of The Crow), Harry Callahan (a.k.a. Dirty Harry), and "Mad" Max. Should I instead seek out movies with more consistently good heroes?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Character, Culture, Ethics, Film, Judgment, Justice, Literature, Personality, Progress, Psychology, Respect

  • Q&A: Being Like Hank Rearden: 14 Oct 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Should I try to be more like Hank Rearden? After reading Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," I've come to an important conclusion: I want to be more like Hank Rearden. What tips would you offer to someone desiring to be so awesome?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Character, Ethics, Independence, Personality, Personal Values, Psychology, Values

  • Q&A: Five Love Languages: 22 Jul 2012, Question 1
  • Question: What do you think of the "Five Love Languages"? The basic idea of the "Five Love Languages" is that every person has "a primary way of expressing and interpreting love," and that "we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch." What do you think of this concept? Do you think that a person's "love language" might be connected to his personality traits?

    Tags: Communication, Dating, Gifts, Marriage, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Romance

  • Interview: Rachel Miner on Romantic Extras: 18 Jul 2012
  • Summary: Most couples know the joy of sharing loving "extras" with their partner. In fact, making those efforts to do something special isn't really "extra," it's part of a vibrant romantic relationship. The challenge is figuring out what actions to take in practice.

    Tags: Communication, Marriage, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Romance

  • Q&A: Acting Out Emotions Versus Acting On Emotions: 15 Jul 2012, Question 3
  • Question: What's the difference between acting on emotions and acting out emotions? Emotions sometimes cry out for bodily expression, such as hitting something when you're angry. Is "acting out emotions" in that way a form of emotionalism? How is it different, if at all, from acting on emotions?

    Tags: Emotions, Ethics, Personality, Psychology

  • Interview: Santiago Valenzuela on DiSC Personality Profiles: 11 Jul 2012
  • Summary: DiSC is a personality profile system that uses four basic profiles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness. A person can use DiSC to understand himself more deeply, capitalize on his strengths, compensate for his weaknesses, and communicate and collaborate with others better. How so?

    Tags: Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Marriage, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Work

  • Q&A: Managing Office Politics: 8 Jul 2012, Question 2
  • Question: How can a person effectively manage office politics? In almost any job, the internal politics of the company can be overwhelming. If you speak out, you can be embroiled in conflict and drama. If you stay silent, the pushy people will have their way, often for the worse. What should a person do who wants to actually work?

    Tags: Communication, Conflict, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Work

  • Q&A: Responding to Irrational Discussion Tactics: 3 Jun 2012, Question 1
  • Question: How should a person respond to another's irrational discussion tactics? What should one do when engaged in an intellectual conversation with someone where you're trying to advance your ideas, but the other person has irrational, or even outright dishonest conversation techniques? Such techniques include frequent interruption, talking over you, giving arbitrary time limits for answers before arbitrarily ending the conversation or moving on, and so forth. All of these tactics make it difficult to fully explicate your position or even get full sentences out. In a one-on-one, unobserved conversation, I know it's obvious that one should simply not deal with this person, for they're obviously not listening if they utilize these habits so regularly and frequently. So my main concern is in those cases when you happen to be talking to an irrational conversationalist where other people are observing, such as in a classroom or meeting where you might want to continue the conversation in hopes of reaching the audience instead. In such cases, what should one do?

    Tags: Communication, Ethics, Honesty, Personality, Psychology, Rationality

  • Q&A: Optimal Planning: 29 Apr 2012, Question 3
  • Question: How much advance planning is optimal? Some people like to plan everything well in advance, while others prefer to allow events to unfold and make decisions on the fly. Is one approach better than the other? How much does it depend on the circumstances? How can people with different preferences coordinate comfortably?

    Tags: Ethics, Personality, Planning, Psychology

  • Q&A: Extroversion Versus Second-Handedness: 18 Sep 2011, Question 4
  • Question: What's the difference between extroversion and second-handedness? According to Wikipedia, extroversion is "the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self." A key distinction between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts mentally "recharge" by interacting with other people, while introverts do that by being alone. Does being an extrovert mean that you're second-handed? Is it a moral failing of any kind?

    Tags: Character, Ethics, Extroversion, Independence, Introversion, Personality, Psychology

  • Q&A: The Validity of Introversion and Extroversion: 28 Aug 2011, Question 1
  • Question: Are "introversion" and "extroversion" valid as psychological types? Sometimes people classify themselves and others as "introverts" and "extroverts." What does that mean? Is the distinction valid and useful? Why or why not?

    Tags: Ethics, Extroversion, Introversion, Personality, Psychology

  • Q&A: Women Versus Nice Men: 9 Jan 2011, Question 1
  • Question: Why do you think most women typically have disdain for men who are 'too nice'?

    Tags: Character, Dating, Ethics, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Romance

  • : 10 Jun 2010
  • Summary: Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don't adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively... and complain.

    This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect – and how to find good prospects – for romance and friendship.

    Below, you can preview over 30 minutes of the podcast. Then, purchase access to the full 90-minute podcast for just $15.

    Tags: Character, Communication, Ethics, Friendship, Lifestyle, Luck, Marriage, Mental Illness, Opportunities, Personality, Psychological Visibility, Psychology, Romance, Skills, Values

  • Podcast: Noticing Change in a Spouse or Lover: 28 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the error of expecting a spouse or lover to notice some change about you – and the proper approach.

    Tags: Communication, Ethics, Personality, Relationships

  • Podcast: Friendship after Romance, Philosophy in Romance, and Finances in Marriage: 21 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I answer three questions on romantic relationships concerning (1) friendship after a failed romance, (2) romance between people of very different philosophies, and (3) managing finances in marriage.

    Tags: Aristotle, Character, Ethics, Finances, Friendship, Marriage, Objectivism, Personality, Philosophy, Relationships, Romance, Values

  • Podcast: Personality Change and Teaching Children Evasion: 8 Sep 2009
  • Summary: I answer question about whether an introvert should stop attempting to be more extroverted to meet new people. Then I discuss an example of a parent teaching a child to evade that I witnessed. Finally, I read a question on inheritance that I'll answer next week.

    Tags: Children, Ethics, Evasion, Extroversion, Introversion, Parenting, Personality, Psychology


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