Evil Genes and disfunctional personality traits; The Cool Factor: is calmness genetic?

Posted on December 1, 2008

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Barbara Oakley discusses her book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend on CSPAN’s BookTV.

About the Program

In “Evil Genes” Barbara Oakley argues that the immoral behavior of Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, and Slobodan Milosevic has a genetic basis. She argues, further, that certain dysfunctional personality traits, such as narcissism, vindictiveness, and black-and-white thinking, are often found in politicians because these traits are advantageous in achieving political success.

About the Author

Barbara Oakley is a retired captain in the U.S. Army, worked as a translator on Soviet trawlers in the Bering Sea, and served as a radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica. She is currently an engineering professor at Oakland University in Michigan.

Although she is not a psychologist the author has certainly done her homework. Her discussion of borderline personality disorder matches the dysfunctional traits of some of my relatives and friends. Do these traits remind you of anyone in your life, and does knowing that these traits are hard wired in their neural circuitry makes it easier to forgive?

Likewise according to Never Let Them See You Sweat conscientiousness is often considered the least dependent on genes, and extroversion and openness the most. Neuroticism, the closest barometer of calmness, is also highly determined by inheritance. Here are my results on the OCEAN personality test

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