Daniel Nettle’s research spans across a vast range of fields such as health, psychology, individual differences and personality, and evolutionary sciences as well as in topics such as social inequality, cooperation, deprivation, and biological aging. Having a little more time this week with injuring my hand, I was able to do some deeper research on Nettle. These include a series of studies leading up to Nettle’s influential paper, “The Evolution of Personality Variation in Humans and Other Animals,” which facilitated the progress of the academic study in personality within the evolutionary paradigm. This paper provides different theories that have been proposed to explain variations in personality and highlights how Nettle’s work has contributed to the field of evolutionary personality psychology.
In this book, Nettle begins with an overview of how the ‘Big Five’ (extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience) were determined and describes how different behavioral people have different characteristics. One of the main points Nettle addresses is the difference within characteristics that make a single human being different from the other. He also points the theory of how these traits have evolved over time. From my particular interest is the question of why population? Why aren’t we all roughly the same? According to Nettle, the answer is that there is not a single optimum personality that it is always beneficial to have.
The Prophets Warning
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. As Daniel Nettle offers us another alternative to what the bible says, how much longer will Christians look to what the world has to offer as knowledge and truth? How many will continue to not seek out God’s Word and Spirit? Are our bodies so consumed with things of this world, we are no longer hungry or take time to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the beginning of Genesis, Adam and Eve sought after what the world could give them, a temporary solution to a hunger that can only be satisfied by God. Also in Genesis we see the story of Esau and Jacob. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a temporary provision or answer to his problem. Romans 9:12-13 we see that God “hated” Esau and loved Jacob. I do not want to be a son of God who sells out for the things the world has to offer.
Origins of Personality and the Big Five
We see in Nettle’s approach to personality focuses on the fitness costs and benefits of possessing varying levels of each personality dimension such that these trade-offs shape personality variation. The benefits of possessing a particular trait depend on the adaptive problem the personality trait is designed to solve and how effective this trait is in circumventing the adaptive problem. The cost of a personality trait can arise from the cost intrinsic to the behavioral tendency as a result of possessing the personality trait or from opportunity cost where an individual would have benefitted if the individual had behaved differently.
Honoring Nettle’s Work and Research
Neetle’s work is thought provoking and his research is a great example to us to strive for. His work is greatly accepted and supported throughout the world. His personality psychology has produced successful taxonomies capable of predicting several outcomes, the fundamental question of the origin of personality remains an unsettled science. Nettle’s proposal outlined how each individual weighs the cost and benefit of a personality strategy, which has fluctuating results.
As a pastor I believe emotions, behavior, thought process can be changed and renewed through the Word of God. As the bible teaches us John 3 that when we become born again our Spirit is awakened. We must be born of the water and spirit. As Camacho, Foursquare, and many other denominations uses the identity gifts from Romans 12 to help us identify personality traits of Jesus Christ. The training I went through with Foursquare to plant a church and be a head pastor is great. Even though Jesus Christ was all seven of the identity gifts and we only have one primary identity gift of the seven. We have His Word and Spirit leading and correcting us.
I wonder if the real problem in the Christian faith is that we are not discipling and equipping anymore? We are more focused on selling t-shirts, merchandise, product in our churches and ministries rather than equipping the saints? We start to see the Prophet Hosea’s warning as something we need to heed to. Lord let us repent and truly be hungry for you and your Kingdom.
Creation > Evolution
 Nettle, D. (2006). The Evolution of Personality Variation in Humans and Other Animals. American Psychologist
 Daniel Nettle, Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
 Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching, First published (Nottingham: IVP, 2019).
 Foursquare Cohort and Hybrid Training Church Planters. Dave Veach. 2014-2016.