Heritable Individual Differences Contingent on Other Traits

Another type of evolutionary analysis of personality involves evaluating one's personal strengths and weaknesses. Suppose, for example, that men could pursue two different strategies in social interaction—an aggressive strategy marked by the use of physical force and a nonaggressive strategy marked by cooperativeness. The success of these strategies, however , hinges on an individual's size, strength, and fighting abilit . Those who happen to be muscular in body build can more successfully carry out an aggressive strategy than those who are skinny or chubby. If humans have evolved ways to evaluate themselves on their physical formidability, they can determine which social strategy is the most successful to pursue—an aggressive strategy or a cooperative strategy. Adaptive self-assessments, therefore, can produce stable individual dif ferences in aggression or coopera-tiveness. In this example, the tendency toward aggression is not directly heritable. Rather , it is reactively heritable: it is a secondary consequence of heritable body build (T ooby & Cosmides, 1990). There is some evidence to support this idea that body build enters into a man' s decision of whether to pursue an aggressive strategy (Buss, 2004).

Studies have shown that men with muscular , or mesomorphic, body builds are more likely to become juvenile delinquents than are those with either an ectomor-phic (skinny) or endomorphic (fat) body build (Glueck & Glueck, 1956; Stewart, 1980). Nonetheless, these are correlational data, so causation from body build to self-assessment to aggression cannot be shown unambiguously . The notion of self-assessment of heritable qualities, however , remains a fascinating avenue for understanding the adaptive patterning of individual dif ferences.

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