Having children has never really been high on my life list, which is odd considering how much I like children and the fact that was a teacher. Despite not being entirely enthusiastic to have children, I got married knowing that kids might definitely be a part of my future. When I was little, my mother always said never to marry someone I couldn’t picture having children with, and that statement might be truer than she ever thought.

We’re all attracted to a certain type of personality, but the personality of your spouse just might influence your fertility more than you ever thought. Two recent studies done in Norway and Senegal have suggested that personality plays a large role in how many children a couple will have. Both studies came to basically the same conclusions despite being thousands of miles apart.

IIASA population researchers in Norway and researchers from the University of Sheffield have found that neurotic men, or men that are excessively moody and emotional, are much less likely to have children than men who are extroverted and considerably more sociable. Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to have children if they display the same characteristics and are much less likely to have children if they are more conscientious than usual. On average, women with above average neurotic tendencies have 12% more children than women with evenly dispersed emotions, and extroverted men have 14% more children than neurotic men.

Though it’s typically harder to keep track of how many children men have compared to women, Norway’s excellent birthing records have allowed them to study this unique phenomenon. IIASA's Vegard Skirbekk, who led the study in Norway, admits that their research only considered Norway, but says that their findings likely apply to more areas. 

The study from Senegal was conducted by Dr. Virpi Lummaa, from the University of Sheffield´s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, Dr. Alexandra Alvergne, from the Department of Anthropology, University College London, and Markus Jokela from the University of Helsinki, Finland. At the end of the study, Dr. Lummaa said that "our results show that personality predicts family size differently in men and women, and those men with largest families have personality aspects different from the women with the largest families. Gaining an understanding of such individual-level determinants of reproductive decisions helps in the current debate on the role of individual versus social factors in explaining recent fertility changes around the world."


  • International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (2013, August 21). How personality affects fertility: Men's and women's personalities linked to likelihood that they will have children. ScienceDaily.
  • University of Sheffield (2010, June 8). Personality can predict fertility. ScienceDaily.

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