Borderline personality disorder traits and their relationship with dimensions of normative personality: a web-based cohort and twin study

Authors

  • K. S. Kendler,

    1. Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics
    2. Departments of Psychiatry
    3. Human and Molecular Genetics, Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA
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  • J. Myers,

    1. Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics
    2. Departments of Psychiatry
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  • T. Reichborn-Kjennerud

    1. Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
    2. Institute of Psychiatry, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
    3. Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
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Kenneth Kendler, MD, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School, Box 980126, 800 E. Leigh Street, Room 1-123, Richmond, VA 23298-0126, USA.
E-mail: kendler@hsc.vcu.edu

Abstract

Kendler KS, Myers J, Reichborn-Kjennerud T. Borderline personality disorder traits and their relationship with dimensions of normative personality: a web-based cohort and twin study.

Objective:  To describe the structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for four dimensions of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and to understand the source of resemblance of these dimensions and normal personality.

Method:  A web-based sample (n = 44,112 including 542 twin pairs) completed items from 4 scales of the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology Basic Questionnaire and the Big Five Inventory.

Results:  A one-factor common pathway model best fits the 4 BPD scales producing a highly heritable latent liability (heritability = 60%) and strong loadings on all 4 dimensions. Affective instability had the lowest trait-specific genetic loading, suggesting that it was a core feature of BPD. A complex pattern of genetic and environmental associations was found between the big five personality traits and BPD dimensions. The strongest genetic correlations with the BPD traits were generally seen for neuroticism (positive), followed by conscientiousness and agreeableness, both negative.

Conclusion:  In the general population, these four BPD dimensions reflect one underlying highly heritable factor. The association between normative personality and dimensions of BPD is complex with high degrees of genetic correlation.

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