Experience Producing Drive Theory: how genes drive experience and shape personality

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There is now a large body of evidence from twin and adoption studies linking genetic variation to phenotypic variation on virtually all human individual differences. Individuals unquestionably influence the nature of their experiences, e.g. high‐sensation seekers surround themselves with like‐minded peers and seek out quite different experiences than low‐sensation seekers. We propose a theory called Experience Producing Drive Theory—Revised, to account for the current findings in behavior genetics. This theory is based on the Darwinian view that complex organisms are active agents “designed” by natural selection to survive in the environments in which they evolved. The theory assumes that the behavior of complex organisms can best be understood in terms of motives, preferences and emotional responses that have evolved to drive specific behavioral patterns. We propose a number of ways in which this theory might be falsified.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1651-2227.1997.tb18347.x

Affiliations: Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Genetics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Publication date: July 1, 1997

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