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Thread: Temperament - why so many different personalities

  1. #1 Temperament - why so many different personalities 
    Forum Freshman
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    Oct 2007
    Aside from personality that is "learned" there is also personality that is biological, temperament. Why do such differences occur? Do these many personality forms exist to create a population that collaborates with one another, with each personality producing something important to society? For the male at least, the 'personality' best suited to reproduce is the assertive, confident, outgoing, charsmatic, and persuasive guy. Shouldn't this behavior be the most dominant behavior?

    Furthermore, how much of personality really is heridity and how much is environment?

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  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    For the male at least, the 'personality' best suited to reproduce is the assertive, confident, outgoing, charsmatic, and persuasive guy.
    You mean (except for the charismatic part) the used car salesman type? It's not clear to me that this type always gets the girl. In fact he might have been the one who led the charge at the mammoth and got stomped on, while the shy, calculating one settled for rat for lunch, and was admired by the ladies for his brains. Not that I'm projecting or anything.

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  4. #3  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    As to how much of personality is heredity and how much is environmental, I don't think anybody really knows at this point. Personality is a complicated thing, and accurately defining it is a difficult task all by itself.

    However, there are several reasons why a variety of behaviors within a single species could evolve. One reason is alternative mating strategies, with a good example being side-blotched lizards (here is a paper that describes the system and a genetic analysis of its stability in the population).

    Males of this species can take three, physically different forms, and respectively use three different mating strategies, all of which are about equally successful when pitted against each other. Orange-throated males are highly aggressive and have a large territory with several females in it that they defend. However, yellow-throated "sneaker" males will slip in when the orange-throated male isn't nearby and mate with his females. These "sneakers" can be thwarted, though, by blue-throated males, who pick one mate and resolutely guard her all during the mating season. But, blue-throated males can be driven off by orange-throated males. (Females of this species tend to have clutches of eggs sired by more than one male.)

    Strategies like this are thought to evolve because they allow every male to at least have some chance of success at breeding. Large, strong males can use the orange-throated tactic - but not every male in the population is going to be larger and stronger than the next. Some will be weaker. But, those males can still pass their genes on to the next generation by sneaking, instead of trying to fight males far stronger than themselves.

    Now, humans are arguably a good deal more complex than lizards, but this could explain why human male personalities other than the assertive, confident, outgoing etc type could be adaptive. Not every male is going to be an alpha dog - if they're all the same, then just those few who are better than the rest at it will get the matings. So, those males who cannot follow the alpha strategy can follow a different but still successful strategy.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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