Quiz 15: Buss: Evolutionary Theory of Personality


A.In order to understand natural and sexual selection,let's first examine a similar concept created by humans and one that provided Darwin with his key insight: artificial selection.Artificial selection (otherwise known as "breeding") occurs when humans select particular desirable traits in a breeding species. B.Natural selection is simply a more general form of artificial selection in which nature rather than people select the traits.More specifically,it occurs when traits become either more or less common in a species over long periods of time because they do or do not lead to greater survivability. C.Sexual selection operates when members of the opposite sex find certain traits more appealing and attractive than others and thereby produce offspring with those traits.

A.Adaptations are evolved strategies that solve important survival and/or reproductive problems.Adaptations are often the products of natural or sexual selection and must have a genetic or inherited basis to them.Sweat glands,for example,are adaptations because they solve the problem of thermal regulation.Taste preferences and sexual attraction are also adaptations.We like sugary and fatty foods because they are good sources of energy and in earlier evolutionary times were relatively scarce.Human intelligence and creativity are adaptations because they facilitate adaptive solutions to problems of survival. B.By-products are traits that happen as a result of adaptations but are not part of the functional design.By-products "come along for the ride" of natural or sexual selection.Scientific ability or driving skill is each a by-product of adaptations.We clearly did not evolve to do science or drive cars,but one by-product of the evolution of human intelligence is the capacity to think scientifically.Similarly,driving a car is not an evolved strategy,but having quick refl exes,hand-eye coordination,and motor (muscle) control allows us easily to transfer evolved skills to new,modern applications,such as driving. C.Noise,also known as "random effects",occurs when evolution produces random changes in design that do not affect function.Noise tends to be produced by chance and not selected for.An example of noise is the shape of a belly button,that is,whether it is an "innie" or an "outie".The belly button itself is a byproduct of an adaptation,namely the umbilical cord.

A.Surgency involves the disposition to experience positive emotional states and to engage in one's environment and to be sociable and self-confident.A surgent person is one who is driven to achieve and often tends to dominate and lead others.It is nearly synonymous with "extraversion".Surgency is also marked by a tendency to take risks and to experience positive emotion (i.e.,be happy) and initiating and maintaining friendships and relationships.People high in surgency are also driven and ambitious. B.A second dimension of personality,agreeableness/hostility,is marked by a person's willingness and capacity to cooperate and help the group on the one hand or to be hostile and aggressive on the other.Some people are warm,cooperative,and group-oriented,but others are more selfish and hostile toward others.Agreeable individuals are likely to work to smooth over group conflict and form alliances between people.Agreeable people foster group cohesion and tend to conform to group norms.They get along and go along with others.In short,agreeableness marks a person's willingness to cooperate. C.The third adaptive personality system revolves around response to danger and threat.All animals have alarm systems that warn them of potential danger and harm.In humans and other animals this takes the form of anxiety as an emotional state and emotional stability/neuroticism as a dispositional trait.Vigilance or sensitivity to harm and threat is quite necessary and adaptive.Emotional stability involves one's ability to handle stress or not.Some people are calm under stress while others are high-strung much of the time. D.Fourth,one's capacity and commitment to work is the core characteristic of conscientiousness.Conscientious people are careful and detail-oriented as well as focused and reliable.Less conscientious people are less reliable and dependable and tend to lack focus.Conscientiousness signals to others whom we can trust with tasks and responsibilities and whom we can depend on in times of need. E.Finally,the evolved strategy of openness involves one's propensity for innovation and ability to solve problems.It is closely aligned with intellect and intelligence but also a willingness to try new things and a willingness to have novel experiences rather than sticking with one's routine.These people are the explorers of a group-they forge ahead where others are hesitant.In ancestral times this quality might be expressed in willingness to explore new territories for food or vegetation,but today it might be expressed in artists and scientists who are at the cutting edges of ideas and knowledge.