Three genetic-environmental networks for human personality

Igor Zwir, Danilo Garcia, Dragan M. Svrakic, Nigel Lester, Sandor Rozsa, Alberto Mesa, Leo-Pekka Lyytikäinen, Ina Giegling, Mika Kähönen, Maribel Martinez, Ilkka Seppälä, Coral Del-Val, Emma Raitoharju, Gabriel A. de Erausquin, Daniel Mamah, Olli Raitakari, Dan Rujescu, Teodor T. Postolache, C. Charles Gu, Joohon SungTerho Lehtimäki, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, Javier Arnedo, C. Robert Cloninger, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Bettina Konte, Sarah S. Yang, Rocio Romero-Zaliz, Mirka Hintsanen, Kevin M. Cloninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Phylogenetic, developmental, and brain-imaging studies suggest that human personality is the integrated expression of three major systems of learning and memory that regulate (1) associative conditioning, (2) intentionality, and (3) self-awareness. We have uncovered largely disjoint sets of genes regulating these dissociable learning processes in different clusters of people with (1) unregulated temperament profiles (i.e., associatively conditioned habits and emotional reactivity), (2) organized character profiles (i.e., intentional self-control of emotional conflicts and goals), and (3) creative character profiles (i.e., self-aware appraisal of values and theories), respectively. However, little is known about how these temperament and character components of personality are jointly organized and develop in an integrated manner. In three large independent genome-wide association studies from Finland, Germany, and Korea, we used a data-driven machine learning method to uncover joint phenotypic networks of temperament and character and also the genetic networks with which they are associated. We found three clusters of similar numbers of people with distinct combinations of temperament and character profiles. Their associated genetic and environmental networks were largely disjoint, and differentially related to distinct forms of learning and memory. Of the 972 genes that mapped to the three phenotypic networks, 72% were unique to a single network. The findings in the Finnish discovery sample were blindly and independently replicated in samples of Germans and Koreans. We conclude that temperament and character are integrated within three disjoint networks that regulate healthy longevity and dissociable systems of learning and memory by nearly disjoint sets of genetic and environmental influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3858-3875
Number of pages18
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Character
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Personality/genetics
  • Personality Inventory
  • Phylogeny
  • Temperament

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3


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