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Author Notes:

Soo H. Rhee, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Campus Box 345, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA. soo.rhee@colorado.edu.

We thank the participants who contributed their time to this project and the research assistants at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics for careful work in data collection, coding, and management.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants MH043899, MH016880, HD010333, DA011015, DA013956, and HD050346.


  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Anxiety, Separation
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
  • Child
  • Colorado
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Diseases in Twins
  • Environment
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality
  • Risk Factors
  • Temperament

Personality dimensions as common and broadband-specific features for internalizing and externalizing disorders


Journal Title:

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology


Volume 41, Number 6


, Pages 939-957

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Several researchers have suggested that the nature of the covariation between internalizing and externalizing disorders may be understood better by examining the associations between temperament or personality and these disorders. The present study examined neuroticism as a potential common feature underlying both internalizing and externalizing disorders and novelty seeking as a potential broad-band specific feature influencing externalizing disorders alone. Participants were 12- to 18-year-old twin pairs (635 monozygotic twin pairs and 691 dizygotic twin pairs; 48 % male and 52 % female) recruited from the Colorado Center for Antisocial Drug Dependence. Genetic and nonshared environmental influences shared in common with neuroticism influenced the covariation among distinct internalizing disorders, the covariation among distinct externalizing disorders, and the covariation between internalizing and externalizing disorders. Genetic influences shared in common with novelty seeking influenced the covariation among externalizing disorders and the covariation between major depressive disorder and externalizing disorders, but not the covariation among internalizing disorders or between anxiety disorders and externalizing disorders. Also, after accounting for genetic and environmental influences shared in common with neuroticism and novelty seeking, there were no significant common genetic or environmental influences among the disorders examined, suggesting that the covariance among the disorders is sufficiently explained by neuroticism and novelty seeking. We conclude that neuroticism is a heritable common feature of both internalizing disorders and externalizing disorders, and that novelty seeking is a heritable broad-band specific factor that distinguishes anxiety disorders from externalizing disorders.

Copyright information:

© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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