Worriers can handle stress, and even outperform Warriors

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

At Standford, Dr. Quinn Kennedy put pilots through a series of stressful simulator tests, Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing explains, after checking the 172 pilots’ COMT genes:

From what we know so far, we would predict that the pilots with the Warrior gene would handle this chaos well. And they did. Even the recreational pilots, pure hobbyists with only a few hundred hours of flight experience and not yet rated for instrument flying at night or in fog, handled the simulator plane as well as professional pilots. As long as they had the Warrior gene.


The recreational pilots with the Worrier gene did melt down under the pressure, as predicted. The havoc of the simulator overwhelmed them — but the more flight experience they had, the better they handled it. The Worrier-gene pilots who were professionals did best of all. The increased pressure did not diminish their performance; instead, their genetically blessed working memory and attention advantage kicked in, until they surpassed the performance of all the Warrior pilots.

What this suggests is that Worriers can handle stress, and even outperform the Warriors, if they train themselves to handle the specific stress of certain recurring situations.


  1. Grasspunk says:

    It’s droll to have the two variants named “warrior” and “worrier” but it is a pain in the ass to read fast.

  2. Obaid says:

    This is a very fascinating book that is also a quick and simple read for those of us who are interested in human behavior and psychology in general. It is chock-full of sometimes counter-intuitive facts on why competition is really a positive thing. The book does include some general concepts that may be used to a variety of situations to enhance performance for parents, teachers, and managers, but it is not intended to be a guide for individual success. When you have done reading this book, you will not have a list of things to do to increase your chances of having a successful performance, but you will have a better understanding of the kind of things that are important. As a result, this is a smart book for intelligent individuals. Hopefully, this will serve as a catalyst for others to provide more practical suggestions for people to consider.

  3. Harry Jones says:

    The trouble with real world stress is it’s not as specific as we would like.

    Adapting slowly to a specific stressor is not going to get you through life. It may even seduce you into a rut.

    Life is general. The generalist specializes in life.

Leave a Reply