Multiplicity : The New Science of Personality, Paperback

Multiplicity : The New Science of Personality Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


In MULTIPLICITY, Rita Carter - award-winning science writer and international speaker - offers a new and vital understanding of personality.

Rita explains that nearly every one of us is a team of personalities, working together, for the most part, to give the impression of a unified self.

We are used to thinking of ourselves as one thing or the other - either introvert or extrovert, say - but things are rarely that simple for most of us.

That's why we sometimes feel like a different person depending on mood, company and surroundings, why we sometimes suffer unaccountable memory lapses, why we buy something we then decide we didn't want in the first place, or why 'somebody else' turns off the alarm clock in the morning.

Importantly, MULTIPLICITY is also a practical guide to building a happy 'household' of personalities, explaining how to identify these different versions of ourselves and how to enable them to co-operate so that we can function successfully in life.

MULTIPLICITY is both an eye-opening and highly practical account of personality.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages, Integrated: 24, line drawings
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Popular psychology
  • ISBN: 9780316730884



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I remember one lecturer at teachers' college talking about this way of looking at individuals: He introduced me to the idea that we are each playing roles, and that becoming a good teacher was all about learning how to play the appropriate role at the right time. He said this was important to understand not only for our own good, but for understanding the students in front of us, who can be ratbags for one teacher, okay for another, popular in the playground and angelic in the home (or any combo at all).When I started my first teaching job I was surprised to see how career teachers can revert into being rowdy students themselves in a staff meeting, when the principal takes the role of the form teacher. Anyone who wanted to speak during staff meeting had to raise our hands. A roll was taken. Sure enough, whenever spirits were high enough, a group of teachers became almost as difficult to settle down as a junior class. And if you were ever in the position of teaching something to a group of teachers, some seemed to revert completely to the most annoying students in their own classes. It was amazing to see.Reading this book made me think about all of the times I've been perplexed at how a person can be one thing one minute, something different the next. The second part is a self-help section with checkboxes and quite strange exercises, but the first section itself was enough to get me reflecting.I'm especially interested in how this view of personality might apply to creating characters in fiction. Since culture preferences the view of the personality as a 'singlet' (hence the popularity of astrology, as explained in the book), readers generally have little time for a fictional character who does one thing in one context, then seems to be completely different in another context. This may be one of those things which doesn't work too well in fiction even if it would reflect real life. Certainly, if not written well, the reader may blame the author for failing to create an authentic and consistent personality, even though none of us is one hundred percent consistent in real life.Twins, arch-nemeses, imagined selves, 'Sliding Doors plots'... all of these are used in fiction to get across the idea of multiple selves without actually writing multiple selves. I don't want to comment on this book as a self-help guide, mostly because I haven't used it this way, but it definitely complements something like Christopher Vogler's book on writing, in which you learn about life as well as about fiction.

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