Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why are some people so easy-going and laid-back, while others are always looking for a fight?

Written by Daniel Nettle, a behavioural scientist at the Centre for Behaviour & Evolution, Newcastle University,  Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are takes a look at what modern science can tell us about human personality.

Is it nature or nurture? Biology or culture? Nettle’s view is that our personalities stem from our biological makeup. Looking at the latest findings from genetics and brain science, he considers the evolutionary origins and consequences of different personalities.

Personality can be assessed via the “big five”: Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientious, Agreeableness, and Openness. Nettle considers why it is that members of the same family can differ so markedly in their natures. Are you stuck with your personality, or can you change it? What is the best personality to have–a bold one or a shy one, an aggressive one or a meek one?

Life, Nettle concludes, is partly the business of finding a niche where your personality works for you. “It is a question of choosing the right pond,” he notes, “and being mindful of the dangers.” He includes tests and below is a sample that was produced for The Guardian UK.

As concise as this is, it’s surprisingly accurate! Have fun…

Newcastle Personality Assessor

Please rate yourself on the following behaviours or thoughts…

 Very unlikely   Moderately unlikely   Neither likely or unlikely   Moderately likely  Very Likely  Score 
1 Start a conversation with a stranger 1 2 3 4 5
2 Make sure others are comfortable or happy 1 2 3 4 5
3 Use difficult words 1 2 3 4 5
4 Prepare for things in advance 1 2 3 4 5
5 Feel blue or depressed 1 2 3 4 5
6 Plan parties or social events 1 2 3 4 5
7 Insult people 5 4 3 2 1
8 Think about phillosophical or social questions 1 2 3 4 5
9 Let things get into a mess 5 4 3 2 1
10 Feel stressed or worried 1 2 3 4  5


For each section, 2, 3 and 4 are low scores, 5 and 6 are low-medium, 7 and 8 are medium-high, and 9 and 10 are high scores.

Calculate your score as follows:

Extroversion Q1 + Q6 =
Neuroticism Q5 + Q10 =
Conscientiousness Q4 + Q9 =
Agreeableness Q2 + Q7 =
Openness Q3 + Q8 =



High scorers are …

Outgoing enthusiastic and active. You seek novelty and excitement.

Low scorers are…

Aloof, quiet and independent. You are cautious and seek time alone.


High scorers are …

Prone to stress worry and negative emotions.

Low scorers are…

Emotionally stable but can take unnecessary risks.


High scorers are …

Organised, self directed and successful, but controlling.

Low scorers are…

Spontaneous, careless, can be prone to addiction.


High scorers are …

Trusting, empathetic and compliant. You are slow to anger.

Low scorers are…

Uncooperative and hostile. You find it hard to empathise with others.


High scorers are …

Creative, imaginative, eccentric and open to new experiences.

Low scorers are…

Practical, conventional, sceptical and rational.



Daniel Nettle Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are  (Oxford University Press). http://www.amazon.com/Personality-What-Makes-You-Way/dp/0199211434

The Guardian UK  A test of character   http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/07/personality-test