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I've recently heard a podcast, in which Dr. Helen Fisher suggests that there are "4 broad personality types", and each one is associated with a particular neurotransmitter:

The corresponding Platonic thinking style, Keirsey temperament type (according to some readers, not Fisher herself), and color can be seen in parenthesis.

  • Explorer (creative; Artisan temperament, yellow) = dopamine
  • Builder (sensible; Guardian temperament, blue) = serotonin
  • Director (reasoning; Rational temperament; red) = testosterone
  • Negotiator (intuitive; Idealist temperament; green) = estrogen/oxytocin

I'm interested if there's indeed scientific evidence to support that for different people their affinity for a certain neurotransmitter is increased to such degree that it manifests in a noticeable difference in personality?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Dr. Helen Fisher's conclusions are plain bunkum. What does it even mean when she says associated with a particular neurotransmitter? The sheer work required to even get at this question is vast and difficult so it is unsurprising that she is venturing as much as a guess.There is scientific evidence to support different neurotransmitters systems can go awry in diseases but Fisher is overinterpreting the literature. Take a look at the neurotrasmiter table and you can see what each does and how malfunctions can result in certain diseases.

Also testosterone and estrogen are thought of primarily as hormones not neurotrasmiters.So Fisher is saying women(who have more estrogen) are better negotiatiors whereas men(more testosterone) are directors. Even these banal conclusions are contentious and debatable.

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I know that the Keirsey model itself is rather unsubstantiated. It's a sort of simplified version of MBTI. So I am not sure if relating the neurotransmitters to Keirsey temperament would work due to the fallibility of temperaments. However, different neurotransmitter levels certainly contribute to different moods. That has been proved. Does that translate to personality? Don't know.

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This just equivocates. Not a helpful answer. – Ryan Nov 17 '14 at 0:31

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