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Temperament and Character in Twin-Pairs Diagnosed with ADHD and ASD

Poster (konferens)
Författare Danilo Garcia
C. Robert Cloninger
Henrik Anckarsäter
Publicerad i 167th American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, New York, New York, USA.
Publiceringsår 2014
Publicerad vid Centrum för etik, juridik och mental hälsa
Språk en
Ämnesord ADHD; Autism; Character; Self-directedness; Temperament
Ämneskategorier Psykiatri, Psykologi


Background: Cloninger’s model of personality comprises four temperament (Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance, Reward Dependence, and Persistence) and three character dimensions (Self-directedness, Cooperativeness, and Self-transcendence). These dimensions are associated to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Specific combinations of temperament dimensions are associated to each disorder, while Self-directedness and Cooperativeness are negatively related to both types of disorders. Nevertheless, low levels of autonomy, responsibility, and self-control (i.e., Self-directedness) and low levels of helpful behavior, empathy, and care for others (i.e., Cooperativeness) might as well be epiphenomena of the disorder. We used a twin-pair method to (1) examine the familiality of the seven personality dimensions, and (2) whether this could be related to the genetic vulnerability to develop ADHD and/or ASD. Method: Probands diagnosed with either ADHD (n = 74) or ASD (n = 21) (D-probands) and their co-twins (D-cotwin) were identified from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden. The controls (C-probands) and their co-twins (C-cotwin) were 729 twin-pairs who do not reach diagnosis criteria. We used Pearson correlations between twins to analyze the relationship between personality dimensions among twin-pairs. By examining D-cotwins and C-cotwins who do not reach diagnosis criteria we disentangled a genetic relationship between personality traits and the disorder⎯the co-twin of twins diagnosed with a disorder who do not reach diagnosis criteria themselves, yet share at least 50% of their genes with the disordered twin, should differ in the character measures when compared with the non-diagnosed co-twins of healthy controls. Although the non-diagnosed D-cotwins did not express the phenotype for ADHD, they should have more ADHD vulnerability genes than individuals with no relation to a D-proband (i.e., C-cotwins). Results: All seven personality dimensions were significantly correlated across twin-pairs with coefficients ranging from .30 for Novelty Seeking to .51 for Cooperativeness. The non-diagnosed C-cotwins reported higher Self-directedness (t = 2.96, df = 737, p = .003) and lower Self-transcendence (t = -2.35, df = 737, p = .019) than the non-diagnosed D-cotwins. The mean scores of the non-diagnosed D-cotwins for these character traits were between those of the D-probands and the non-diagnosed C-cotwins. Suggesting that, at least these two scales, have trait-like characteristics related to familial vulnerability to ADHD. Self-directedness goes down, while Self-transcendence goes up in individuals diagnosed with ADHD. Conclusions: There is a weak/moderate effect size for Self-directedness and Self-transcendence in causation of ADHD and ASD. The combination of low Self-directedness and high Self-transcendence, for instance, predisposes to magical thinking in that imagination is not constrained by reality testing.

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