The Evolution of Personality and Individual Differences

David M. Buss, Patricia H. Hawley

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Rather than viewing individual differences as merely the raw material upon which selection operates, this book provides theories and empirical evidence which suggest that personality and individual differences are central to evolved psychological mechanisms and behavioral functioning. The book draws theoretical inspiration from life history theory, evolutionary genetics, molecular genetics, developmental psychology, personality psychology, and evolutionary psychology, while utilizing the theories of the "best and the brightest" international scientists working on this cutting edge paradigm shift. The first three sections analyze personality and the adaptive landscape; here, the book offers a novel conceptual framework for examining "personality assessment adaptations." Because individuals in a social environment have momentous consequences for creating and solving adaptive problems, humans have evolved "difference-detecting mechanisms" designed to make crucial social decisions such as mate selection, friend selection, kin investment, coalition formation, and hierarchy negotiation. The second section examines developmental and life-history theoretical perspectives to explore the origins and development of personality over the lifespan. The third section focuses on the relatively new field of evolutionary genetics and explores which of the major evolutionary forces-such as balancing selection, mutation, co-evolutionary arms races, and drift-are responsible for the origins of personality and individual differences.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages520
ISBN (Electronic)9780199893485
ISBN (Print)9780195372090
StatePublished - May 1 2011


  • Behavioral functioning
  • Evolutionary forces
  • Individual differences
  • Personality
  • Psychological mechanisms
  • Selection
  • Social decisions
  • Social environment


Dive into the research topics of 'The Evolution of Personality and Individual Differences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this