Personality and long-term reproductive success measured by the number of grandchildren

TitlePersonality and long-term reproductive success measured by the number of grandchildren
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBerg, V, Lummaa, V, Lahdenper, M, Rotkirch, A, Jokela, M
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
KeywordsAdult children, Health Conditions and Status, Other

Personality, that is, individual behavioral tendencies that are relatively stable across situations and time, has been associated with number of offspring in many animals, including humans, suggesting that some personality traits may be under natural selection. However, there are no data on whether these associations between personality and reproductive success extend over more than one generation to numbers of grandchildren. Using a large representative sample of contemporary Americans from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 10,688; mean age 67.7 years), we studied whether personality traits of the Five Factor Model were similarly associated with number of children and grandchildren, or whether antagonistic effects of personality on offspring number and quality lead to specific personality traits differently maximizing short and long-term fitness measures. Higher extraversion, lower conscientiousness, and lower openness to experience were similarly associated with both higher number of children and grandchildren in both sexes. In addition, higher agreeableness was associated with higher number of grand-offspring only. Our results did not indicate any quality-quantity trade-offs in the associations between personality and reproductive success. These findings represent the first robust evidence for any species that personality may affect reproductive success over several generations.


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Endnote Keywords

Personality/Personality/long-term fitness/quality-quantity trade-off/Families/grandchildren/transfers/reproductive success/psychological aspects

Endnote ID


Citation Key8087