A Population Based Twin Study of DSM-5 Maladaptive Personality Domains

Susan C. South, Robert F. Krueger, Gun Peggy Knudsen, Eivind Ystrom, Nikolai Czajkowski, Steven H. Aggen, Michael C. Neale, Nathan A. Gillespie, Kenneth S. Kendler, Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Personality disorders (PDs) can be partly captured by dimensional traits, a viewpoint reflected in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (DSM-5) Alternative (Section III) Model for PD classification. The current study adds to the literature on the Alternative Model by examining the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on 6 domains of maladaptive personality: Negative emotionality, detachment, antagonism, disinhibition, compulsivity, and psychoticism. In a large, population-based sample (N 2,293) of Norwegian male and female twin pairs, we investigated (a) if the domains demonstrated measurement invariance across gender at the phenotypic level, meaning that the relationships between the items and the latent factor were equivalent in men and women; and (b) if genetic and environmental influences on variation in these domains were equivalent across gender. Multiple group confirmatory factor modeling provided evidence that all 6 domain scale measurement models were gender-invariant. The best fitting biometric model for 4 of the 6 domains (negative emotionality, detachment, disinhibition, and compulsivity) was one in which genetic and environmental influences could be set invariant across gender. Evidence for sex differences in psychoticism was mixed, but the only clear evidence for quantitative sex differences was for the antagonism scale, with greater genetic influences found for men than women. Genetic influences across domains were moderate overall (19-37%), in line with previous research using symptom-based measures of PDs. This study adds to the very limited knowledge currently existing on the etiology of maladaptive personality traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-375
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Personality
  • genetic
  • maladaptive
  • measurement
  • sex


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