Behavior Genetics

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 742–753 | Cite as

Genetic Associations Between Personality Traits and Lifetime Reproductive Success in Humans

  • Venla BergEmail author
  • Virpi Lummaa
  • Ian J. Rickard
  • Karri Silventoinen
  • Jaakko Kaprio
  • Markus Jokela
Original Research


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.


Personality Twins Fitness Reproductive success Natural selection Breeder’s equation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Venla Berg, Virpi Lummaa, Ian J. Rickard, Karri Silventoinen, Jaakko Kaprio and Markus Jokela declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


This study was funded by the Kone Foundation, University of Helsinki Research Funds, the Academy of Finland (grant number 266898 for VB, grant number 263278 for JK, grant number 292368 for VL, and grant number 266592 for KS), Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the Royal Society.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Behavioural SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK
  4. 4.Department of Social ResearchUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Department of Public HealthUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  6. 6.Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMMHelsinkiFinland
  7. 7.Population Research Institute, VäestöliittoHelsinkiFinland

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