Using Personal Genome Technology and Psychometrics to Study the Personality of the Neanderthals

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Geher, G; Holler, R; Chapleau, D; Fell, J; Gangemi, B; Gleason, M; Rolon, V; Shimkus, A; Tauber, B
Year of Publication: 2017
Journal: Human Ethology Bulletin
Volume: 32
Issue: 3
Pagination: 34-46
Date Published: 09/2017
Publication Language: eng

The Neanderthals’ extinction has been, according to modern biological anthropologists, greatly exaggerated. Research from multiple sources has consistently provided strong evidence of hybridization between ancestral Neanderthals and Ancestrally Modern Humans (AMHs). Personal genome technology, such as that used by the personal-genomic company, 23andMe, provides individuals with information regarding their particular genetic overlap with Neanderthal DNA. Given the fact that most personality traits show some heritable component, this research sought to examine if one’s degree of Neanderthal genetic overlap (or Neanderthal Quotient; NQ) is significantly related to a variety of personality traits – traits that, based on anthropological research – may have characterized our ancient Neanderthal cousins. Using an online survey administered to more than 200 adults from around the world who had had their personal genomes mapped, we found that NQ was positively related to such variables as social fear, anxiety, and promiscuity, while being negatively related to scores on a performance-based measure of imaginativeness. Most of these relationships remained significant in regression models that added age and gender into the equations, suggesting that these findings are likely relatively reliable. Findings suggest that high levels of NQ tend to correspond to social fear, autistic tendencies, and depressive tendencies – a constellation of results that is consistent with the conception of Neanderthals as being ill-suited for large-scale social living.