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Behav Genet. 2016 Nov;46(6):742-753. Epub 2016 Aug 9.

Genetic Associations Between Personality Traits and Lifetime Reproductive Success in Humans.

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Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Population Research Institute, Väestöliitto, P.O. Box 849, 00101, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, Durham, UK.
Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM, Helsinki, Finland.
Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Personality has been associated with reproductive success in humans and other animals, suggesting potential evolutionary selection pressures. However, studies to date have only examined these associations on a phenotypic level, which may be inadequate in estimating evolutionary change. Using a large longitudinal twin dataset of contemporary Finns, we compared the phenotypic (breeder's equation) and genetically informed (the Robertson-Price identity) associations between lifetime reproductive success (LRS) and two personality traits-neuroticism and extraversion. Neuroticism was not associated with LRS at the phenotypic nor genetic level, while extraversion was associated with higher LRS in men both phenotypically and genetically. Compared to the univariate phenotypic analysis, the genetic analysis suggested a larger selection response of extraversion, and a selection response of neuroticism due to indirect selection. We estimated that neuroticism decreases by .05 standard deviations and extraversion increases by .11 standard deviations by one generation. Our results highlight the importance of considering genetic associations between personality and fitness and investigating several inter-related personality traits and their covariance with each other to predict responses to selection more accurately.


Breeder’s equation; Fitness; Natural selection; Personality; Reproductive success; Twins

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