C. von Borell, T. Kordsmeyer, T. Gerlach and L. Penke

An integrative study of facultative personality calibration

Evolution and Human Behavior

The theory of facultative calibration, which explains personality differences as  responses to variation in other phenotypic traits of individuals, received mixed results throughout the last years. Whereas there is strong evidence that individual differences in human behavior are correlated with the self-perception of other traits, it still needs to be questioned whether they are also adjusted to objective differences in body condition (i.e. formidability). In two independent studies (N 1  = 119 men and 124 women, N 2  = 165 men) we tested hypotheses of facultative personality calibration in an integrative way, assessing various outcomes of previous studies in the same samples (including Anger Proneness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, Narcissism, Shyness, Vengefulness, and Sociosexual Orientation). Formidability was derived from assessments of physical strength and various anthropometric measures from full-body 3D scans and paired with measures of self-perceived and other-rated physical attractiveness (based on rotating morphometric 3D body models and facial photographs). We could replicate positive correlations with self-perceived attractiveness across outcomes, though these were not corroborated by more objective assessments of attractiveness: an effect of other-rated attractiveness was clearly not supported in our results for either sex, regardless of the personality outcome. Anthropometric measures and physical strength were also largely unrelated to personality, with the exception of Extraversion, Utility of Personal Aggression, and Sociosexual Orientation. While the two samples differed in their results for domain-level Extraversion, at least the Extraversion facets Activity and Assertiveness were related to strength and masculinity in men. For Sociosexual Orientation the results of our two samples varied more substantially, a positive association was only present in Study 2. Future studies need to clarify whether formidability, potentially an indicator of genetic quality for males, enhances their orientation and success in short-term mating. Furthermore we propose longitudinal twin-difference studies as means to evaluate the theory of personality recalibration in a more controlled manner.