We investigated the strength of evidence for association of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and the personality trait of Harm Avoidance. We used new primary data from a large sample of adults drawn from the Finnish population. We also applied meta-analytic techniques to synthesize existing published data. The large number of studies of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism allowed us to apply a formal test of publication bias, as well as formally investigate the impact of potential moderating factors such as measurement instrument. Univariate ANOVA of primary data (n = 3,872), with 5-HTTLPR genotype as a between-groups factor, indicated no evidence of association with Harm Avoidance (P = 0.99). Meta-analysis indicated no evidence of significant association of 5-HTTLPR with Harm Avoidance (d = 0.02, P = 0.37), or EPQ Neuroticism (d = 0.01, P = 0.71), although there was evidence of association with NEO Neuroticism (d = 0.18, P < 0.001). Our analyses indicate that the 5-HTTLPR variant is not associated with Harm Avoidance. Together with our previous analyses of a large sample of participants with extreme Neuroticism scores (defined by the EPQ), we have data that excludes a meaningful genetic effect of the 5-HTTLPR on two measures of anxiety-related personality traits. There remains the possibility that the variant influences the NEO personality questionnaire measure of Neuroticism. However, a large, well-powered primary study is required to test this hypothesis directly and adequately.
2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.