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Keywords:

  • borderline personality disorder;
  • twins;
  • personality;
  • genetics

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.