Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The evolution of personality variation in humans and other animals

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


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


DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.6.622

PubMed id: 16953749


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric