Which evolutionary type are you? Why we have the traits we do.

Only a few years ago I was averse to the idea that there are different “types” of people. As an ardent proponent of Evolutionary Psychology, I believed that we all have ancient hunter-gatherer minds living in a modern environment. However, I have come across many interesting phenomena in the past two years to believe that to be true. There is the phenomenon of assortative mating (spouses tend to be genetically much more similar than when compared to random other people). According to Helen Fisher, these types tend to marry each other (with their corresponding Myers-Briggs types and dominant hormones):

Considering that these types are quite different I set out to investigate which ancestral environment could have produced their traits and came to the conclusion that the ancestral mode of subsistence was the main factor in shaping these traits and the personality types map onto the following subsistence types:

What’s more, if these modes of subsistence really had an evolutionary impact we would expect to see a difference not only in our psychology (software) but also our biology (hardware): physiology (e.g. digestion, metabolism) and anatomy. In fact, such a typology already exists, e.g. in William Sheldon’s body types or in the ancient Ayurvedic dosha types.

In fact, these body types map well onto the different subsistence types:

  • Ectomorph: lightweight, low-metabolism, ideal for hunting and gathering, built for endurance (most marathon runners)
  • Mesomorph: athletic, high metabolism, ideal for extreme, but short burst of energy expenditure, built for power and speed (most football players, sprinters, etc.)
  • Endomorph: strong body type, ideal for long, hard routine work, built for stamina (many wrestlers, e.g John Cena)

There are many other traits these types have, ranging from eating behaviour to different sleep patterns (chronotypes) as can be expected from different subsistence economies. Farmers types are the most likely to have three regular meals a day and gatherer types are the most likely to be vegetarians, for example. There is a high convergence between different typing systems, listed in the table below:

Of course, many people are mixed types, but many are also relatively unmixed due to assortative mating over the past 10.000 years. So, which evolutionary type are you? I am mostly hunter-gatherer with about 20% farmer, according to my Ayurvedic profile.

Originally published at http://the-big-ger-picture.blogspot.com on December 1, 2020.