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The evolution of personality variation in humans and other animals

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle

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Abstract

A comprehensive evolutionary framework for understanding the maintenance of heritable behavioral variation in humans is yet to be developed. Some evolutionary psychologists have argued that heritable variation will not be found in important, fitness-relevant characteristics because of the winnowing effect of natural selection. This article propounds the opposite view. Heritable variation is ubiquitous in all species, and there are a number of frameworks for understanding its persistence. The author argues that each of the Big Five dimensions of human personality can be seen as the result of a trade-off between different fitness costs and benefits. As there is no unconditionally optimal value of these trade-offs, it is to be expected that genetic diversity will be retained in the population. Copyright © 2006 by the American Psychological Association.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Psychologist

Year: 2006

Volume: 61

Issue: 6

Pages: 622-631

ISSN (print): 0003-066X

ISSN (electronic): 1935-990X

Publisher: American Psychological Association

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.61.6.622

DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.6.622

PubMed id: 16953749


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