Normal and Abnormal Personality Traits: Evidence for Genetic and Environmental Relationships in the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart


  • We thank Auke Tellegen for his helpful comments regarding this article. Kristian E. Markon and Robert F. Krueger were supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH6S137.

* Correspondence concerning this article may be addressed to Kristian E. Markon or Robert F. Krueger, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455. Electronic mail may be sent to or


ABSTRACT Recent studies have demonstrated substantial correlations between normal and abnormal personality traits. Yet little is known about how these correlations are mediated genetically and environmentally: Do normal and abnormal personality traits stem from the same underlying genes and environments? We addressed this question using data from 128 monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs in the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart (MISTRA). Additive genetic and nonshared environmental correlations between scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)—an index of abnormal personality—and the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)—an index of normal personality—were estimated. Results indicated that phenotypic correlations between normal and abnormal personality were mediated by genetic as well as environmental factors, although the magnitude of genetic mediation tended to be larger overall. Moreover, the patterns of phenotypic, genetic, and environmental relationships among the scales were similar, suggesting that influences on normal and abnormal personality act through systems common to both. It is suggested that future research focus on the neurogenetic substrates of these shared systems and how dysfunction in these systems influences development of disordered personality.