Charles Darwin’s Personality (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss Charles Darwin’s Personality. We will do that by giving a brief overview of who Charles Darwin was as a researcher. We will move on to explain his personality in the context of his personal and professional life especially with respect to his position in the scientific community. After that, based on his autobiographies and research work, we will speculate and explain where he may lie on the five factors of personality namely openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism/emotional stability.

Charles Darwin’s Personality 

Based on his autobiographies and groundbreaking research, Charles Darwin can be described as a man of high intellect and great observation. He was a conscientious person who preferred a systematic and organized manner of processing information coming from the world. He was able to identify links or patterns among connected ideas, people, animals, plants, etc. Furthermore, he had great attention for detail and skills of observation which helped him in establishing the grounds of his theory.

Darwin was a rational and logical person who preferred objective information over subjective ideas. We can say that he was a freethinker especially since he questioned the grounds of religion based on logic. Apart from that, he may lie in the middle of the extraversion spectrum, since he was an explorer, open to experiences.  Yet at the same time, he liked spending his time in his thoughts, away from people, in reading books and among nature and animals. Furthermore, he had excellent skills of communication and reasoning which are apparent by the fact that he was able to challenge and convince the entire scientific world that their pre-established ideas about evolution were incorrect.

A brief overview of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was an English biologist, geologist, and naturalist. He is famous for his groundbreaking theory of evolution. He proposed the idea that all species come from common ancestors which influenced the scientific world greatly. Furthermore, this theory of natural selection is accepted worldwide today.

We can say that Darwin was a Heterodox researcher which refers to a person whose work challenges the narrative and pre established ideas practice in the scientific world.

Darwin’s personality in the context of Personal and Professional Life

Darwin was born in 1809 as the 5th born among six children to a wealthy family. His entire family was quite educated and encouraged his ideas about gradual creation/evolution. Since childhood, he had a love for collecting things he liked especially plants and insects like beetles and butterflies. He was uninterested in medicine since he was pushed into it by his father. Furthermore, he disliked studying and preferred to spend his time riding.

Charles Darwin was a freethinker especially with respect to religion. He would challenge religious views with concepts of science. In a way, we can say that he was a rational and logical person who strived to find evidence for what he believed in. He was more open to religious explanations when it was backed up by logic. This is indicated by his studying the works of Palley who explained the laws of nature through reasoning based on God’s Divine designs. Similarly, he was interested in reading works by professors who had used reasoning and observation to understand how the world worked. This explains his own inclination of processing information and making sense of it through logic, objectivity, and evidence.

His journey as a naturalist started when he was invited to go on an expedition to chart the coastline of South America. Despite being advised against it by his father, Darwin went on the voyage, investigated geology, and made natural history collections. We can say that he was careful and organized. This is backed by his detailed notes on his theoretical speculations that were carefully kept inside a journal. He was passionate about his work and despite having natural seasickness, continued to work through it.

Darwin had excellent skills of observation. He was attentive to detail as well. Because of these qualities, he was able to notice differences among the distribution of wildlife and fossils on his five-year voyage. He was also inquisitive by nature and sought to find explanations for his ideas. He conducted investigations that were quite extensive and collaborated with other researchers to scientifically explain the diversity in nature.

It is possible that he was against discrimination and racism. This is apparent by his displeasure on being exposed to struggles of African Americans at the time, their refinement, shackles and the fact they were being traded like goods.

It was clear that Darwin was against racism and his consequent disputes with other people on the topic. He also got to know the social, anthropological, and political understanding of the native and colonial people during his journey. Furthermore, he was interested in how people lived in different areas of the world. He proposed the idea that all humans were linked to each other through a shared origin and the drive to move towards civilization.

After his return from the voyage, he pursued a proper career in being a scientist. He was encouraged by his family and financially supported as well. He worked over the years on different ideas and theories. He backed up his observations by looking for evidence. Due to overwork, he experienced health issues as well. Even during sickness, his mind didn’t stop working as he came up with a discovery of the cause of his illness.

He was not afraid to express his ideas no matter how unconventional they were. He would openly challenge people with long years of practical experience based on his theories. He could see patterns and links between interrelated concepts. For E.g. he was able to note similarities between humans and animals and said that an orangutan exhibited childlike behavior.

He had a fascination with nature and established relationships with friends and professors linked to the field. As a person, Darwin can be described as a hard-working person with a strong orientation towards his family. He disliked pretense and materialism. He had a very creative side to him and was quite intellectual. Furthermore, he had skills of communication which are indicated by him persuading the scientific world that their beliefs were based on incorrect foundations.

Darwin’s personality based on Five Factors

If we explain Charles Darwin’s personality based on five factors of extraversion, conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness to experience, and agreeableness, we would find that he was a unique and distinct individual.

Extraversion

It can be presumed that Darwin may not have been a pure extrovert and preferred to spend time in his mind more than with people. Furthermore, he was a bookworm and was interested in nonsocial tasks like breeding pigeons. He is famous for working in isolation and expressing his ideas through his words. However, at the same time, he was an explorer as well. So we can say that he may have average levels of extraversion.

Emotional Stability/Neuroticism

Regarding emotional stability, we can say that Darwin was stable with respect to his emotions as it allowed him to establish and grow a family. It enabled him to connect with others as well. He can be described as a family-oriented person since a lot of his ideas were grown from the work of his ancestors. He experienced a period of prolonged grief/ depression after the sudden death of his daughter.

Openness to experiences

Apart from that, Darwin may lie at the higher end of the spectrum in openness to experience. This trait may have been the underlying cause of his success. This is because he was interested in various ideas and made connections, asked questions, identified interrelationships, and went out of his way is to understand and learn different topics. He was a systematic and organized scholar who was honest and accepting of multiple perspectives. In his thinking, he was not rigid but flexible and always kept his mind open for multiple explanations.

Agreeableness

About agreeableness, he may lie at an above-average level. Although, it seems that he was straightforward and bold with respect to telling others they were wrong to believe in outdated ideas. However, at the same time since he was deeply connected with his family and the broader community, he held off publishing his ideas for 20 years because he did not want to cause any problems. He was also a humble and gentle person who accepted humans as equal and interrelated to each other.

Conscientiousness

With conscientiousness, he may have a pretty high score. This is apparent by his biographies and journals, in which he has paid great attention to detail and organization. Furthermore, he was comprehensive and methodical in his approach to the world.

FAQs: Charles Darwin’s Personality

What are the five facts about Charles Darwin?

Five facts about Charles Darwin include that he was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln. He published his theory after 20 years. Furthermore, he had suffered from chronic illness in the major part of his life. Before deciding to marry, he made a pros and cons list. He was a student of divinity and dropped out of medical school in the early years of his life.

How has Charles Darwin changed the world?

Charles Darwin is the founder of the theory of evolution. He traveled the world and gave his ideas on the origin of species by giving his theory of natural selection i.e. survival of the fittest. His ideas changed the scientific world completely.

Is the evolution of fact?

Evolution is considered both a fact and a theory. It proposes the idea that organisms evolve and change across time. All species can be linked back to a common ancestor.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Charles Darwin’s Personality. We found that based on his autobiographies and groundbreaking research, Charles Darwin can be described as a man of high intellect and great observation. He was a conscientious person who preferred A systematic and organized manner of processing information in the world. He was able to identify links or patterns among connected ideas, people, animals, plants, etc. Furthermore, he had great attention to detail and skills of observation which helped him in establishing the grounds of his theory. 

Darwin was a rational and logical person who preferred objective information over subjective ideas. We can say, that he was a freethinker especially since he questioned the grounds of religion based on logic. Apart from that, he may lie in the middle of the extraversion spectrum, since he was an explorer, open to experiences. Yet at the same time, liked spending time in his thoughts away from people, in reading books, and among nature and animals. Furthermore, he had excellent skills of communication and reasoning which are apparent by the fact that he was able to challenge and convince the entire scientific world that their preestablished ideas about evolution were incorrect.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201808/darwins-personality

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.