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Psychology Today: ADHD an evolutionary advantage?

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Peter Gray Ph.D.

The ADHD Personality: A Normal and Valuable Human Variation

We are a highly social species. Never in our evolution as humans did we survive on our own, as separate individuals. We always depended on our cooperative relationships with others, and the same is true today. From this point of view, it is not surprising that natural selection would have supported a broad range of personality types. People of different personalities are well adapted to make different kinds of contributions to the community (and, thereby, also to themselves). Ideally, they would all be valued for the unique contributions they can make and would be helped by others in their areas of weakness. Certainly this was true in hunter-gatherer bands, and we see it operating today within healthy families, tight-knit friendship groups, and well-run businesses. The dimension of control versus impulsivity is, I suggest, one of the most obvious and important dimensions of normal, healthy personality variation. In the course of our evolution, it was valuable that some of us were relatively more controlled and reflective while others of us were relatively less controlled and more action-oriented than the majority.

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