A developmental perspective on personality and psychopathology across the life span

Sylia Wilson, Thomas M. Olino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Taking a developmental perspective, guided by core principles of developmental science and developmental psychopathology, is necessary to move the fields of personality science and psychopathology forward. Personality and psychopathology can be delineated using hierarchical models of individual differences, as evidenced by decades of converging evidence across community and psychiatric samples, countries and cultures, and ages and developmental periods. A large body of empirical research likewise documents associations between personality and various forms of psychopathology. Cross-sectional investigations of personality–psychopathology links in samples of adults now yield diminishing returns. Prospective, longitudinal investigations that assess personality, psychopathology, and their co-development across the life span are needed to determine their temporal ordering, capture dynamic associations over time and development, and elucidate causal origins and underlying mechanisms. We lay out a developmental framework that integrates across the developmental, personality, and psychopathology literatures in order to further understanding and guide future investigations of the nature of personality–psychopathology links.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-932
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number5
Early online dateFeb 7 2021
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work on this article was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers K01DA037280 (S. W.), R21AA026632 (S. W.), and R01 MH107496 (T. M. O.). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • development
  • developmental psychopathology
  • personality
  • psychopathology


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