Traditional behavioral genetic studies (e.g., twin, adoption studies) have shown that human personality has moderate to high heritability, but recent molecular behavioral genetic studies have failed to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) with consistent effects. The current study adopted a multi-step approach (ANOVA followed by multiple regression and permutation) to assess the cumulative effects of multiple QTLs. Using a system-level (dopamine system) genetic approach, we investigated a personality trait deeply rooted in the nervous system (the Highly Sensitive Personality, HSP). 480 healthy Chinese college students were given the HSP scale and genotyped for 98 representative polymorphisms in all major dopamine neurotransmitter genes. In addition, two environment factors (stressful life events and parental warmth) that have been implicated for their contributions to personality development were included to investigate their relative contributions as compared to genetic factors. In Step 1, using ANOVA, we identified 10 polymorphisms that made statistically significant contributions to HSP. In Step 2, these polymorphism's main effects and interactions were assessed using multiple regression. This model accounted for 15% of the variance of HSP (p<0.001). Recent stressful life events accounted for an additional 2% of the variance. Finally, permutation analyses ascertained the probability of obtaining these findings by chance to be very low, p ranging from 0.001 to 0.006. Dividing these loci by the subsystems of dopamine synthesis, degradation/transport, receptor and modulation, we found that the modulation and receptor subsystems made the most significant contribution to HSP. The results of this study demonstrate the utility of a multi-step neuronal system-level approach in assessing genetic contributions to individual differences in human behavior. It can potentially bridge the gap between the high heritability estimates based on traditional behavioral genetics and the lack of reproducible genetic effects observed currently from molecular genetic studies.