Document Type


Publication Date



"Personality, or “behavioral syndromes”, are relatively stable dispositional traits and behaviors that have now been identified in a myriad of social species (Gosling, 2001; Sih et al., 2004), and with clear consequences on fitness (Smith & Blumstein, 2008). The canalization of personality during development and relative stability thereafter, despite varying circumstances over the life course that might otherwise favor greater plasticity, is an important problem attracting much theoretical and empirical attention (Dall et al., 2004; Dingemanse et al., 2010). Further, personality is highly heritable, yet how heritable genetic variation in personality traits is maintained over generations remains another conundrum (Buss & Hawley, 2011). If selection effects on personality vary over space or time, or by organismal state or condition, then variation in personality could be adaptive. Frequencydependence could also affect fitness if payoffs vary based on the frequency of personalities in the population. However, empirical evidence to support these adaptive explanations is sparse in humans. One approach to studying the adaptive value of personality variation considers costs and benefits of specific dispositions, and how these may maintain multiple phenotypic equilibria along personality dimensions. Extraverted individuals may be bold, sociable and may obtain greater mating access, but may also incur greater risks of injury, morbidity and mortality (Nettle, 2006). Conscientious individuals may be goal-oriented, hard working, and cautious about health, but may also miss out on short-term mating and resource opportunities (Schmitt, 2004). Neurotic individuals may be prone to greater depression, anxiety and chronic stress, but may also be more risk-averse and vigilant concerning environmental dangers (Nettle, 2006)."


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Evolution and Human Behavior. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Evolution and Human Behavior, volume 5, issue 1, in 2014.

The Creative Commons license below applies only to this version of the article.

Peer Reviewed




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.