A meta-analysis of temperament in axis I psychiatric disorders

Compr Psychiatry. 2012 Feb;53(2):152-66. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2011.03.008. Epub 2011 May 11.


This article reports on a meta-analysis of Cloninger's temperament dimensions (novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence) in individuals with lifetime psychiatric disorders compared with controls and on interdisorder comparisons between these disorders. Nine disorders from 75 studies were included in the meta-analyses. The most consistent feature was elevated harm avoidance: compared with the controls, harm avoidance was higher in all diagnostic groups studied except for those with alcohol use disorders. The increase in effect sizes in harm avoidance scores varied from a very large (d = 2.66) in social phobia to a small effect (effect size, d = 0.29) in alcohol use disorders. In other dimensions, differences between cases and controls were relatively small. However, in pairwise comparisons, notable differences also in other dimensions emerged: in novelty seeking, the lowest scores were in social phobia (d = -0.87) and the highest in bulimia nervosa (d = 0.33); in reward dependence, the lowest scores were in schizophrenia (d = -0.36) and the highest in social phobia (d = 0.12); and in persistence, the lowest scores were in social phobia (d = -0.30) and the highest in anorexia nervosa (d = 0.49). The provided data should be taken into account in the future studies on suggestive vulnerability markers for psychiatric morbidity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Temperament*