Someone played a flute. The Apache poem was read. And as the bride and groom walked down the makeshift aisle between our seats, we blew bubbles at them from the little bottles left on our chairs. Then came the feast: platters of Cavatelli Marinara, Antipasto Rustico, mussels, sausages, Chicken Fra Diavolo -- a host of Italian favorites appeared at every table amid the balloons, confetti and champagne as the disc jockey blasted out old tunes and we wildly danced. Patrick and Suzanne swirled among us, radiating joy.
"Love hopes all things," the Bible says. I hoped for Patrick and Suzanne. But I also had a reason to be optimistic about their marriage. I knew some things about their personalities because both had taken my personality test, a series of questions I had devised to establish some basic things about a person's biological temperament. Both had told me their test results. And from these data, I was confident that Patrick's particular chemical profile would complement Suzanne's, creating a biological and psychological cocktail that would keep them captivated with each other for years.
We have many inborn tendencies. Indeed, scientists now believe some 50 percent of the variations in human personality are associated with genetic factors. We inherit much of the fabric of our mind.
But what is personality?
Psychologists define it as that distinct cluster of thoughts and feelings that color all of a person's actions.
Your personality is more than just your biology, of course. Personality is composed of two fundamentally different types of traits: those of character and those of temperament.
Your character traits stem from your experiences. Your childhood games; your parents' interests and values; how people in your community express love and hate; what relatives and friends regard as polite, dangerous or exciting; how they worship; what they sing; when they laugh; what they do to make a living and relax -- these and innumerable other cultural forces combine to build your unique set of character traits.
The balance of your personality is your temperament, all of the biologically based tendencies you have inherited, traits that emerge in early childhood to produce your consistent patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving. As the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset put it, "I am, plus my circumstances." Temperament is the "I am," the foundation of who you are. Curiosity; creativity; novelty seeking; compassion; cautiousness; competitiveness: to some degree, you inherit these and many other aspects of your disposition.
It is this part of the human spirit I had examined in Patrick and Suzanne -- their biological temperament.
No one knows precisely how many traits of temperament we human beings inherit. But studies of identical twins suggest we inherit many. Take the "giggle twins," as they were called by staff members of the Minnesota Twin Study in the 1970s because these women would erupt with peals of laughter at the slightest jest or odd turn of phrase.
Daphne and Barbara were born to an unmarried Finnish student living in England in 1939. Barbara was adopted by an English groundskeeper who worked in a public park, while Daphne grew up in the home of a wealthy metallurgist. Yet when they first came together again at age thirty- nine as part of the Minnesota Twin Study, which focused on identical twins reared apart, both loved good pranks and both had giggled all their lives.