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PoiPoi's avatar

Why do we have personalities? Is it necessary for us humans to have them, or not have them at all.

Asked by PoiPoi (274points) May 17th, 2008

I know we’re animals, ADVANCED animals, that do compulsive activities like: finding food and eating it for energy, running away or fighting danger to protect ourselves, partnering up with another living organism like our species to reproduce for our population, etc. But our minds are above the basic ways of getting these needs, like all animals do naturally. Do you think that having personalities make our lives less dull or meaningless, that instead of being consuming, opportunistic, reproducing machinces, we feel that we have an individual nature of behavior that makes us feel special and unique from others? What is your theory or opinion on this, I WANT to know.

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9 Answers

benseven's avatar

I reckon that personality is an expression or facet of the qualities of the soul – who we really are – and the soul is what seperates us from all other creatures.

giovani's avatar

I’m definitely not a biologist, but I would think that the variation in “styles of life” could be a survival technique, as a whole species. Different personalities in animals (human or otherwise) net different approaches, different solutions, and different reactions to environmental factors. With enough different personalities, a species has a better chance of surviving. It’s often said that what separates humans from other animals is our ability to massively adapt within a generation, imagine, and create tools for creative solutions to problems, once again, within a single generation. Human implementation of these traits is massively different from even the closest animals (in terms of “advancement”).

marinelife's avatar

Well, I thought benseven started out well, but I disagree in this sense: animals have personalities too. They are not all alike, some are more playful, some are more adventurous, some are more shy. I could go on.

Since no two of us (except single Zygote twins) are exactly alike either genetically or in experience (and there even the identical twins have variation) our personality, ”(the complex of all the attributes—behavioral, temperamental, emotional and mental—that characterize a unique individual)” per Princeton’s Wordnet, is automatically unique. It is also, by default, automatically part of us.

Why certain aspects of it have evolved varies by what the atritbute, temperament or emotion we’re talking about is. I suspect a good part of it is because we are not lone creatures. In order to live in social groups we have to have mechanisms for interacting.

Perchik's avatar

I think one thing we need to remember is that animals have personalities as well. Not nearly as complex but my dogs go through mood swings. One of my cats is super friendly, one is man-hating. I could argue that all of those are personality traits.

marinelife's avatar

Correction to my earlier post: attribute in line 8.

benseven's avatar

@Marina, @Perchik – You’re both entirely right. My theory doesn’t really stand up to that point, because animals certainly do have personality… I think if the answer were to come down to being as simple as my answer, we’d all be pretty surprised anyway!

skfinkel's avatar

If we think of ourselves as the species that we are, and that survival of the species is what all of this is about, personalities that attract the other sex would be important to cultivate. Other animals have other ways of attracting the opposite sex, like birds coming up with intricate songs (which we are also attracted to), or fabulous feathers, or perhaps monkeys have really cool grooming techniques.

shrubbery's avatar

I agree that animals have personalities too. I believe that we are advanced animals not because of just personalities but because, well, I guess you would call it humanity? We are the dominant species, and have been for a very long time. This means that unlike other animals (except elephants…) we do not leave behind our deformed or albino, or what humans called “retarded” because we have developed humanity as we do not need to necessarily better our race to becoming dominant, because we already are. We can choose not to have children, not to throw our essence in the gene pool in the hope our descendants will be a far greater race than us. However, after saying this, I must also add that nature still has thrown up a fight for evolution: society. Yes indeed we keep “albinos” but they would be very hardpressed to marry someone and have children because that’s just the way society is.

indicatebound's avatar

I’m not at all sure we’re not merely consuming, opportunistic, reproducing machines. We are animals, certainly, but civilization, particularly slavery (from literal slavery to modern capitalism – i.e. Chinese laborers filling American markets; massive prison complexes) has changed us, and is something very unique to humanity. As is the level of warfare humans have developed. What has been wrought on the planet is unprecedented. I wonder if personality isn’t some sort of defect. Something that hides our nature.

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