• Janko Međedović Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade
  • Boban Petrović Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade



basic emotions; human behavioral ecology; reproductive fitness; sex differences; state-dependent behavior


One of the key features of personality is the existence of inter-individual differences in motivation, emotions and behavior. Individual differences may be maintained in a population if personality traits are linked to states – conditions which affect the fitness-related outcomes of personality. We tested this assumption using the participants' sex as an internal state. Personality was operationalized via basic emotional systems: FEAR, ANGER, SADNESS, SEEKING, PLAYFULNESS and CARE. We measured several fitness-related outcomes like reproductive success, residual reproductive value, reproductive timing, the onset of sexual activity and short- term mating frequency. The data were collected in a community sample via an online study (N = 635; Mage = 29.4; 69.4% females). We used linear regression to predict fitness-related outcomes by basic emotions and tested interactions between sex and emotions to the prediction of these criteria measures. Predictable sex differences in basic emotions were obtained: males had lower scores on CARE, FEAR and SADNESS traits. Findings also showed that basic emotions can have an adaptive role in a biological sense – this was particularly true for CARE and ANGER traits. Finally, five interactions were detected, which showed that the adaptive benefits of emotional traits are different for males and females in a conceptually expected manner. Research results showed that personality traits operationalized as basic emotional systems can contribute to evolutionary fitness. These results furthermore expand the knowledge of human personality as a state-dependent behavior.


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