Genetic and environmental contributions to dimensions of personality disorder

Am J Psychiatry. 1993 Dec;150(12):1826-31. doi: 10.1176/ajp.150.12.1826.


Objective: The authors estimated the heritability of the basic dimensions of personality disorder and the relative proportions of the variance attributable to genetic and environmental sources.

Method: The subjects were 175 volunteer twin pairs (90 monozygotic and 85 dizygotic) from the general population. Each twin completed the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology, a questionnaire that assesses 18 dimensions of personality disorder. The questionnaire was developed on the basis of factor analytic studies that identified a stable structure underlying personality disorders in clinical and nonclinical subjects. Structural equation model-fitting methods were used to estimate the influence of additive genetic, common environmental, and unique environmental effects.

Results: The estimates of broad heritability ranged from 0%, for conduct problems, to 64%, for narcissism. Behaviors associated with submissiveness and attachment problems had low heritability. For most dimensions, the best-fitting model was one that specified additive genetic and unique environmental effects.

Conclusions: These results are similar to those reported for normal personality and suggest a continuity between normal and disordered personality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diseases in Twins / classification
  • Diseases in Twins / etiology
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Genetic
  • Personality / genetics
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Disorders / classification
  • Personality Disorders / etiology
  • Personality Disorders / genetics*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics