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Personality Research articles on personality

24Oct/112

R-Drive Personality System

The R-Drive Personality system is based on the idea that genetics and environment result in distinct motivation drives that essentially define individual personality. Person A had a very artistic father (and other relatives) and that's a big part of why they are artistic (genetic). Person B had a really bad experience taking risks as a child which caused them to become very cautious (environmental). Naturally, most people's personalities / reward drives will reflect an interactive mix of both genetic and environmental influences.

It is important to note that these motivation drives are influenced by individual subjective perception of rewards. A person, because of genetics and/or environment, perceives certain behaviors to be rewarding (even if in the long term and/or short term, they may not be). The person with an eating disorder or drinking problem or penchant to package bad mortgages and sell them as good mortgages to retirement fund managers (wiping out people's nest eggs) perceives rewards from their behavior and that is why they continue to engage in it.

What makes you who you are (what careers you may prefer, friends you might get along better with, romantic partners you might be more suited to, positive and negative personal characteristics and life outcomes) is highly influenced by your perceptions of what is rewarding. People with more accurate/correct perceptions of what's actually rewarding (to themselves and others) will be more likely to live happier/healthier lives and have a more positive effect on others.

Of course you can also have a reward profile that yields a happy life for you but misery for anyone around you, or misery for people you have an effect on but are not personally involved with (like a chemical company worker who plays a part in toxic pollution). You may be happy (knowingly or unknowingly) with friends or a spouse like the aforementioned. On a micro / short sighted level you might not see anything wrong with that kind of life choice, but on a macro level you are contributing to real suffering in the world. You are objectively a potentially negative value human being. The basic definition of that being someone whose total sum effect on the world is more negative than positive (lowering the overall quality of life). Positive value human beings naturally have the opposite effect.

The recent economic turmoil and Wall Street protests emphasize systemic problems with how the current status quo doles out rewards. Increasing rewards to a small percentage of the population has not resulted in a better world. In fact, historically it's predictive of economic depressions, increased human suffering.

How to change that when that small percentage disproportionately runs things even in the most democratic countries is the salient question of the moment. The biggest problem facing the world presently could be a preponderance of negative value human beings in positions of power. The fact that people that value power and prestige self rate more often as having little regard for others suggests inherent problems in A. individuals who pursue positions of power B. societies with large power imbalances. That it might be in our genetic nature to engage in this hierarchical divisive behavior does not justify it, just as a person's natural instinct for revenge (or rape or murder) doesn't justify their acting on it, especially when that behavior has led to the collapse of cultures.

In any case, because perceptions are so prone to subjectivity and inaccuracy, I think it's important for people to be aware of what rewards they (and others) associate with happiness, to be able to think about them, to discuss them, call people out on them, and be able to consider whether they want to continue following their current reward preference profile or adopt a different one, whether the people in their lives (or the candidates they vote for) have reward preferences profiles that are beneficial or toxic to them, beneficial or toxic to the world.

What I aim to do with this personality system is to put a language to all shared reward drives that exist which are meaningful in their effect on individuals and the world and sufficiently statistically independent of each other - i.e. there is no point in adding an additional reward drive to this test when a current one (or combination of current ones) sufficiently explains it. And so here is the first version of the test...

R-Drive Personality System version 1.00

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