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An adaptationist framework for personality science

Lukaszewski, A.W., Lewis, D.M.G., Durkee, P.K., Sell, A.N., Sznycer, D., Buss, D.M. and Guest Editor, E.J.P. (2020) An adaptationist framework for personality science. European Journal of Personality . Early View.

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The field of personality psychology aspires to construct an overarching theory of human nature and individual differences: one that specifies the psychological mechanisms that underpin both universal and variable aspects of thought, emotion, and behaviour. Here, we argue that the adaptationist toolkit of evolutionary psychology provides a powerful meta‐theory for characterizing the psychological mechanisms that give rise to within‐person, between‐person, and cross‐cultural variations. We first outline a mechanism‐centred adaptationist framework for personality science, which makes a clear ontological distinction between (i) psychological mechanisms designed to generate behavioural decisions and (ii) heuristic trait concepts that function to perceive, describe, and influence others behaviour and reputation in everyday life. We illustrate the utility of the adaptationist framework by reporting three empirical studies. Each study supports the hypothesis that the anger programme—a putative emotional adaptation—is a behaviour‐regulating mechanism whose outputs are described in the parlance of the person description factor called ‘Agreeableness’. We conclude that the most productive way forward is to build theory‐based models of specific psychological mechanisms, including their culturally evolved design features, until they constitute a comprehensive depiction of human nature and its multifaceted variations. © 2020 European Association of Personality Psychology

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2020 European Association of Personality Psychology
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