Six Loci Linked to Personality Traits in Meta-Analysis

Genome-wide analyses for personality traits identify six genomic loci and show correlations with psychiatric disorders

Researchers have unearthed genetic correlations between personality traits and psychiatric disorders, according to a new study.

A team led by the University of California, San Diego’s Chi-Hua Chen conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies that examined personality traits. Under the five-factor model of personality, there are five personality dimensions: extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness. Previous work, the researchers noted, has indicated that about 40 percent of variance in personality may be genetic.

As Chen and her colleagues reported in Nature Genetics today, they linked six genetic loci to these personality traits and examined their genetic ties to a handful of psychiatric disorders.

The first genetic dimension separated personality traits and psychiatric disorders, except that neuroticism and openness to experience were clustered with the disorders. High genetic correlations were found between extraversion and attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and between openness and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The second genetic dimension was closely aligned with extraversion–introversion and grouped neuroticism with internalizing psychopathology (e.g., depression or anxiety).