Three. How Genes Make Us Different

In considering the cast of characters I described in the last chapter, you may have wondered how they got to be so different. If you’re like most people, you probably assumed that their personality patterns were mainly caused by social circumstances and upbringing. But it’s likely that you also toyed with another explanation that is becoming increasingly popular: genes.

The growing interest in the genetics of personality is reflected in its extensive media coverage. Consider, for example, this excerpt from a New York Times column about the genetics of excitement-seeking:

Jason Dallas used to think of his daredevil streak—a love of backcountry skiing, mountain bikes and fast vehicles—as “a personality thing.” ...

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