Is Confidence Biological? (Are We Screwed Without The Gene?)

Updated January 18, 2023 – Hey guys! Kat here. I’m looking to answer whether confidence is biological or not. I’ve studied under some of the greatest thought leaders and life coaches of this time. In most cases, I’ve always thought of confidence as environmental. But there have been a few things I’ve seen over the years that have left me wondering about whether inner confidence is biological. So I did some research. Here is what I found.

So is confidence biological? According to new research, scientists have found a link between confidence and biology. Specific genes are responsible for higher levels of self belief. This new research suggests self-confidence is linked to your genetic makeup rather than a state of mind, how you were raised or your environment.t.

But, is that all there is to the art of self-assurance or is there an additional effect at play?

What Is Confidence?

Confidence is the quality of feeling sure about yourself and your ability to do something. It’s a belief in ourselves and our capabilities.

So, is confidence biological? Well, science has shown that certain areas of our human brains are linked to increased confidence. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine can influence how we feel, which in turn may affect our level of confidence.

Studies have shown our genetic makeup affects the amount of certain confidence-boosting chemicals our brain can access. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness, and oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” can both be inhibited by certain genetic variations. Somewhere between 25 to 50 percent of the personality traits linked to confidence may be inherited.”

Barbara Markway, Ph.D. in Psychology Today

Research also reveals that genetics play a role as well; some people have less confidence, while others just seem to have an “I can do this!” attitude for no particular reason.

But it’s not all biology; environment plays a part too. Our personal experience shapes the way we think about things and the world around us. Someone who has experienced a lot of success in life may be naturally more confident than someone who hasn’t had as many positive outcomes.

At the end of the day, it comes down to having trust and belief in yourself. We all have doubts sometimes, but believing that you are capable of achieving your goals can make a huge difference. So don’t underestimate the important aspect of the power of building self-confidence – it could very well be the key to unlocking your potential!

Is Confidence In Your DNA?

Well, it’s complicated. Biology certainly plays a role in our overall levels of confidence, but there are so many other factors at play. Our environment, the people we surround ourselves with, our level of success – all these things shape how we view and interact with the world.

Studies have shown that individuals with greater self-confidence often have traits shared among family members. For example, some families may have higher levels of extroversion naturally passed down from generation to generation. So, while confidence is not a biological trait in the strictest sense, there are certainly genetic factors at play that could affect how confident an individual can be.

But, did you know that going through puberty can affect a female’s confidence far more than a male’s? This confidence gap is strange, because until the puberty years, young girls generally perform better in elementary school than boys.

In their book, The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self, coauthors Claire Shipman, Katty Kay, and JillEllyn Riley took a poll of more than 1,300 girls in the 8 to 18 age group (and the girl’s parents).

The authors reported that, “Until the age of 12, there was virtually no difference in confidence between boys and girls. But, because of the drop-off girls experienced during puberty, by the age of 14 the average girl was far less confident than the average boy. Many boys, the survey suggested, do experience some hits to their confidence entering their teens, but nothing like what girls experience.”

Unfortunately, these feelings of worthlessness can play a huge role in women’s confidence (or lack of it) through their adult years.

The authors attribute some of the key elements for this lowered confidence in female students to girl’s propensity to dwell more on negative feelings than positive, not wanting to fail, and wanting to please.

In addition, fewer girls feel comfortable in their own skin due to today’s social media influence. When I was growing up, if I had a squabble with my female friends, I could go home and cool off. Not so today where we’re constantly exposed to the opinions of others on social media.

That being said, it’s important to note that one’s environment and experiences can contribute greatly to our level of self-confidence. Having supportive family and friends, the added influence of confident people who inspire use, and engaging in activities like public speaking or sports to build your self-esteem can have widespread effects when it comes to feeling confident.

Can You Be Born With Confidence?

Studies conducted on sets of twins (identical twins suggest that genetics play some role in determining our emotional stability as well as our self-image. So while confidence isn’t necessarily something you’re born with completely intact, the circumstances of your life and the genes you were given can give you a certain level of assurance.

The researchers also found that a lot of confidence comes in our genes. They’d separated the confidence scores of the identical twins from those of the fraternal twins, and found the scores of the identical twins to be more similar. Plomin’s findings suggest that the correlation between genes and confidence may be as high as 50%, and may be even more closely correlated than the link between genes and IQ.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, excerpted from The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know

Also, research suggests that hormones like testosterone and oxytocin may influence how confident we feel as well.

Testosterone is known to increase assertiveness and aggressiveness, which can make us more confident in certain situations. Oxytocin has been linked to feelings of trust and connection with others, which could also lead to greater self-assurance.

So, if confidence shows biological roots, let’s talk about the confidence gene and how do you know whether you have it?

There was research done that distinguished Alleles (pronounced like “All Eels,” like from the ocean). It means two forms of the same type of gene. In one study, researchers found individuals that have one type of gene expression (vs. the other) showed more innate self-confidence. If you want to read more about this you can check out my article on the research.

So how would you even know whether you have it? Well besides genetic testing, it’s gonna be tough. But I believe there may be a short cut to determining whether you have it. It’s found in some pretty old studies related to personality types.

Maybe you have heard of personality type testing. There are 4 main personality types.

Most people are a mixture of 2 of them and one personality type in particular tends to be the one that most agree must have a confidence gene. They tend to have higher confidence levels, even when they shouldn’t.

Here Are The 4 Personality Types

  • Choleric
  • Sanguine
  • Melancholic
  • Phlegmatic

Let’s look at the key traits of each one. Maybe you can pick which one you are (or the 2 that speak to you the most).


  • Extroverted
  • Independent
  • Decisive
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Enjoy being in charge


  • Talkative
  • Enthusiastic
  • Active
  • Social
  • Like being with people in crowds


  • Detail-oriented
  • Analytical
  • Deep-thinkers
  • Self-reliant
  • Thoughtful


  • Relaxed
  • Peaceful
  • Quiet
  • Easy-going
  • Sympathetic and Caring

The one who tends have a natural self-esteem relative to the other groups are cholerics. They are the ones who seem to have the scales tipped unnaturally in their favor.

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones. They way I see it, you have at least a 1 in 4 chance to have confidence as your rogue super power, and if you clearly hail from one of the other groups, I guess you are just gonna have to work a little harder.

Consider it’s a bit like being a shorter NBA player. You have some obstacles to overcome, but the good news is that it’s been done even without the genetics for the sport.

Is Confidence Learned?

So can you learn to be self-confident? Yes, according to the research I have read. The researchers don’t believe that just because you are genetically not “wired” to have the highest levels of confidence, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn.

Other factors play a role in all this such as upbringing and environment. While you might be someone like me, with low confidence and who easily finds themselves judging their own self-worth, you can learn to accept yourself.

Let’s also assume that if you are here reading up on self-confidence, and you have made it this far with me, your case is still quite hopeful, wink. You obviously have the tenacity to stick to something.

Is Confidence A Personality Trait?

As mentioned above, it seems that one of the four main personality types have a natural propensity to be self-confident.

I’ve read about unshakeable self-confidence, and I have to admit that if people are being honest they will let you in on a little secret.

The secret is that they aren’t confident all of the time. They don’t always know if what they are doing is right. However, their past experiences may have been positive, thus far, so they have expectations of success going forward.

I read a story in which the CEO of a company woke up often in the morning thinking she would be found to be a fraud. It’s known as imposter syndrome, and it is quite a common experience.

Is Confidence A Behavior?

The confidence of others shows up as a behavior for someone on the outside witnessing what’s going down. However, it often isn’t in the realm of conscious thought of the individual performing.

For instance, if you are watching a piano player, you may say he or she is a competent confident piano player, but the pianist is simply focusing on what is to be played. They are in the zone. Being in the zone to an outsider looks like confidence, but the experience of the person performing the action first hand is quite different.

We shouldn’t forget that we all work on a feedback system. When we were learning to walk, we learned what didn’t work as much as what did until we became proficient confident walkers.

Likewise, humans are wired for pattern recognition.

If we were cavemen and went to the lake to fetch water one day and there was a lion at the water hole, we might go back a couple of times to see if the lion is still there. If he is, there will be a point at which we no longer visit that lake because… a lion lives there.

Likewise, our behavior (when we are aware of it) is on a feedback loop. We test out our ability to be confident in different areas and stick with the ones in which we have success.

In order to make confidence a behavior in any area, we have to be willing to take action and potentially fail. If we do this often enough in the areas we feel a bit “left behind,” our successes will raise our level of confidence.

Remember confidence is the ability to get out of our comfort zone and accept circumstances and the outcome of our actions, knowing that we have enough of what it takes to handle the resulting situation whether it be positive or negative.

There is evidence to support that you can act your way into a feeling, and feeling self-confidence is often a choice. The choice itself is “confidence in action.” In order to be confident, we have to face our core fear that we aren’t good enough or don’t have what it takes.

Related Questions

Here are answers to a few other questions that I found interesting surrounding this topic

Confidence Gene – Does it exist?

We discussed above that there is some scientific research supporting gene alleles that are present in individuals who have a self-empowered outlook on life. Further, there is supporting evidence that personality types have varying degrees of inherent confidence. Read this article on confidence and genes/heredity to learn more.

But even if you don’t have the gene per se, there is something you can do about it. Look, you are here doing your research. Have faith that you will do what it takes to make the changes you want.

Can you be naturally confident?

When I think about this, I think it might be important to mention that there while you may have a natural in-born level capacity for confidence, you can become confident once you choose it.

People who are confident usually come off as if they have “natural confidence.” Often, however, confidence comes through wins in life and overcoming failures. Once you have dealt with enough setbacks in any particular area, your capacity to “weather the storm” increases. Here is how I’ve seen people deal well with setbacks and what you might not know.

Remember confidence is usually experienced or witnessed by a third party rather than a feeling someone is experiencing internally. When a football player is on the field, he’s playing not thinking about whether he has confidence to play. You’ll notice when you are carrying around natural confidence because you the question of your over-confidence or lack of confidence will virtually disappear.

Is confidence natural?

There is some indication that individuals may possess natural capacity for confidence. However, research is still quite young, and human-beings are remarkably adaptive.

Consider flexibility. All of us can become more flexible. The capacity to which we can bend may be genetically limited, but rather than looking at flexibility as either you are or you aren’t, we should consider that we can become more flexible once we focus on it.

Likewise, confidence is an area that you have immense capacity to develop. It starts with a choice follow through with a commitment to learn what it takes and you will find yourself naturally more self-confident.


Kat Clukey

I am so glad you are here, and have chosen to spend your time reading my blog. I'm a Life Coach through the Procter Gallagher Institute . Since 2013, I have been on an intense mission to read books, go to seminars, and generally turn myself inside out to find out why some people seem to feel good in their own skin while I've struggled with self-worth and low self-esteem most of my adult life. I hope you find insights that help you on your journey!

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