Men with a greater range of personality traits, particularly those who are extraverted, emotionally stable, agreeable or conscientious, have sex more often and produce more children, according to a new Australian study conducted by behavioral economists at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The researchers investigated how the “Big Five” personality traits — extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience — affected mating outcomes among both men and women.
Study data came from the online Australian Sex Survey of 2016 in which participants were asked a range of socio-demographic questions, as well as given a personality test. The analysis involved 3,000 males and 1,500 females, all of whom identified as heterosexual.
“Throughout history, competitive advantages have helped men and women achieve increased success in their occupation, sport, artistic endeavors, their ability to acquire and secure resources, and ultimately, their survival,” said researcher Dr. Stephen Whyte.
“However, little is known about the advantages, or disadvantages, personality traits provide in relation to sexual activity and offspring success,” he said.
“Science doesn’t really have a firm understanding around how personality traits influence human mating and reproductive behavior, and particularly whether certain personality types are favored by either males or females.”
The findings show that key personality differences between the sexes influence both sexual frequency and offspring success. Compared to females, males report a larger number of personality factors that influence these outcomes.
“The results showed certain trait combinations appear to result in higher sexual frequency and more offspring for select males,” Whyte said.
For men, having a combination of high extraversion and high agreeableness, high extraversion and high conscientiousness, and high agreeableness with high conscientiousness was linked to greater sexual frequency.
For both men and women, extraversion was linked to greater sexual frequency.
Whyte added that certain combinations of the Big Five traits, including high extraversion and low openness, also appeared to be related with increased offspring for males, while only more agreeable females had more children.
“Our findings suggest that the greater variance in male traits and their particular combinations may provide an advantage for them when it comes to sex and reproduction but that doesn’t appear to be the case for the women we analyzed,” he said.
The paper was published in the international journal Personality and Individual Differences.
The study was the largest ever in Australia to investigate personality, sex and offspring. Whyte conducted the study with fellow behavioral economists Dr. Ho Fai Chan and Professor Benno Torgler.