Association between the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) exon III polymorphism and measures of Novelty Seeking in a German population

Mol Psychiatry. 1999 Jul;4(4):378-84. doi: 10.1038/


Since the observation of an association between the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) exon III polymorphism and the temperament trait of Novelty Seeking,1 replication studies have yielded both positive2-5 and negative6-12 results. This raised the question whether the initial findings must be regarded as false positives.13 However, demographic or methodological differences between studies may have obscured the small effect of the DRD4 polymorphism on Novelty Seeking.14 Examination of clinical or older cohorts may have led to an underestimation of possible associations due to a restricted variation of Novelty Seeking in these cohorts. The use of different questionnaires provides another source of variation. In order to replicate the initial findings as precisely as possible, a cohort of 136 healthy, young volunteers was genotyped, and Novelty Seeking was ascertained using the TPQ.15,16 In addition, further aspects of novelty seeking behavior have been ascertained through additional trait measures. We could observe the reported association between long DRD4 alleles and significantly elevated scores (age- and sex-residualized) on the TPQ-Novelty Seeking total scale as well as on two of the subscales, Exploratory Excitability and Extravagance. The results provide further confirmation for the role of the DRD4 exon III polymorphism in modulation of Novelty Seeking. In addition, the pattern of associations between the polymorphism and other scales suggests that this polymorphism has its effect on exploratory, extravagant, and extraverted, rather than on impulsive and monotony-avoidant subtypes of Novelty Seeking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Exons*
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • Self-Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • DRD4 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4