• Question: Why do I have a different personality to everyone else?

    Asked by an alien to Stewart, Miriam, Marton, Laura, Kathryn, David on 13 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Stewart Martin-Haugh

      Stewart Martin-Haugh answered on 13 Nov 2018:

      I don’t know the answer here.

      One idea people sometimes use is the “anthropic principle” – basically this says if the world was different in a major way, we wouldn’t be here to see it. If everyone had the same personality (responded identically to all events etc), would we have discovered science? Would we have an internet? Presumably we wouldn’t need social media since everyone would have the same opinions on everything. So we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      The problem with the anthropic principle is that it’s not very scientific – you can’t disprove it because you can’t run an experiment with a new world of humans with identical personalities.

    • Photo: Miriam Hogg

      Miriam Hogg answered on 13 Nov 2018:

      That’s an interesting question. It’s not my area but I am very interested in psychology.
      I think its a combination of things. Like Stewart said if we were all the same we wouldn’t make new things or come up with new ideas. A persons personality is shaped by their memories and the things around them, even siblings have different experiences growing up even if they have the same parents.
      But personality is a bit of what we call ‘Nature vs Nurture’. The idea behind it is how much of you as a person is decided before you were born (on your genes and DNA) and how much is a consequence of how you were brought up. There have been cases of twins being separated at birth who grew up and had oddly similar personalities (like weirdly similar, giving their pets the same name, getting similar jobs, marrying women with the same name). But other cases where they ended up completely different.

      I think its a complicated answer but basically; we have different DNA and are brought up with different experiences and memories, so we end up with different personalities. I hope that answers your question, if not you can ask for more details and i’ll try my best to answer 🙂