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Evolutionary role of diversity of personality


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In what way does having different inherent personalities contribute for the survival and prosperity of humans as a species, throughout the process(right term?) of evolution?


As I understand personality is a combination of nature and nurture, but I'm referring more to the nature side. Also, bear in mind, nature also influences how we respond to the nurture part. So the same factors, will influence the nurture aspect of personality-building differently.


Surely, specific kinds of personality will be more useful to survive and procreate, so shouldn't that have funneled down throughout human evolution? Just as we look so similar physically, shouldn't we also be just as similar personality-wise? I suspect I may be able to answer this, but I want to read what you have to say. I know only that I know nothing.

Edited by Notional
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  • 2 months later...

I suppose different factors might affect personality. 

Spiritual beliefs like mysticism or atheism might impact your personality in subtle ways. Certainly beliefs like morality and evil would affect your character.

How social one is may be dependent on early childhood relationships or the pursuit of solitary activities. Autistic traits might be relevant in this category.

Cultural background, language, education etc. will affect identity.

Personal willpower or obsessive traits might trickle down to your mindset.

In terms of evolution I imagine each personality has different pros and cons which is one reason why were all different. For instance, perhaps obsessiveness might end up being useful if applied to a productive activity but not in the actions of those with OCD.

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On 2/13/2019 at 6:11 PM, Notional said:

Surely, specific kinds of personality will be more useful to survive and procreate, so shouldn't that have funneled down throughout human evolution? Just as we look so similar physically, shouldn't we also be just as similar personality-wise?

We are not that similar physically: there are big strong people, small fast people, etc. Different physical attributes are valuable for different tasks.

The same is true (perhaps more so) for personalities. Say you want to build a house: you are going to need some "artistic" people with imagination to come up with interesting designs; you will want some of those to be more down-to-earth to ensure the designs are practical; then you will want some people who are more interested in detail and working things out to make sure the structure will be strong enough, how many bricks you need, how much it will cost; then you want some practical people who just like getting on with the job to actually build it.

Creating a complex society requires even greater range of skills, interests and attributes.

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First, it is dangerous to presume that all traits are under selection of sorts. It invites speculations that do not hold well under scrutiny (the areas of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are evidence to that). Second, plasticity cannot simply be ignored. OP describes a situation of strong selection of the genetic aspect, which again is very unlikely arising from a variable trait. 

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  • 2 years later...

“Overall, schizophrenia is about 3.6 times as common among people with autism as it is in controls, the researchers found.”


Some symptoms of schizophrenia:

“Delusions. Hallucinations. Disorganized thinking (speech). Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. Negative symptoms.”

Some symptoms of autism:

  • Abnormal Tone of Voice
  • Avoidance of Eye Contact or Poor Eye Contact
  • Behavioral Disturbances
  • Deficits in Language Comprehension
  • Inappropriate Social Interaction
  • Intense Focus on One Topic
  • Lack of Empathy
  • Problems With Two-Way Conversation
  • Repeating Words or Phrases

I notice that the symptoms of schizophrenia are superficially the opposite of autism; as if they were at opposing ends of a spectrum. For example the disorganised thinking style in schizophrenia contrasts with the obsessive and intense focus in autism. A complex word salad is wholly different to repeating simple words and phrases. I’m wondering if autism has a lowered understanding of mental empathy then is it like schizophrenia has an excess of that empathy? It might be as if a schizophrenic patient can project their mind too easily on their environment and attach themselves to strange beliefs. So then it’d be understandable that variations in that spectrum would result in hybrid symptoms like the link above. I’m not an expert so I don’t know. I understand empathy in this medical sense is all about a self-aware theory of mind and not the usual sense of the word concerning the morality of someone’s behaviour.

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The greater the diversity of a species, the more likely response to adversity or adaptation to conditions will be found within the species.

Physical and  mental adaptive abilities would seem equally important.


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Seems to me the success of a group of hominids depends on the combination of varied abilities, with varied personality types suiting different roles. I suspect there is no ideal personality and too much uniformity would reduce the group's capabilities.

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