Separate personality traits from states to predict depression

J Pers Disord. 2003 Apr;17(2):152-72. doi: 10.1521/pedi.


Results have been inconsistent regarding the ability of personality measures to predict future depression severity levels, leading some researchers to question the validity of personality assessment, especially when patients are acutely depressed. Using a combination of regression and factor analytic techniques, we separated the variance of personality measures into stable trait and variable state-affect components. Findings supported the hypotheses that depression severity measured at different time points would correlate with both stable trait and concurrent state-affect components in personality measures, whereas change in depression severity would correlate with state changes but not with stable trait scores. Thus, personality assessments tap both state affect and trait variance, with the state-affect variance masking the trait variance when patients are depressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires