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Keywords:

  • twin studies;
  • personality disorders;
  • genetics

Gjerde LC, Czajkowski N, Røysamb E, Ørstavik RE, Knudsen GP, Østby K, Torgersen S, Myers J, Kendler KS, Reichborn-Kjennerud T. The heritability of avoidant and dependent personality disorder assessed by personal interview and questionnaire.

Objective:  Personality disorders (PDs) have been shown to be modestly heritable. Accurate heritability estimates are, however, dependent on reliable measurement methods, as measurement error deflates heritability. The aim of this study was to estimate the heritability of DSM-IV avoidant and dependent personality disorder, by including two measures of the PDs at two time points.

Method:  Data were obtained from a population-based cohort of young adult Norwegian twins, of whom 8045 had completed a self-report questionnaire assessing PD traits. 2794 of these twins subsequently underwent a structured diagnostic interview for DSM-IV PDs. Questionnaire items predicting interview results were selected by multiple regression, and measurement models of the PDs were fitted in Mx.

Results:  The heritabilities of the PD factors were 0.64 for avoidant PD and 0.66 for dependent PD. No evidence of common environment, that is, environmental factors that are shared between twins and make them similar, was found. Genetic and environmental contributions to avoidant and dependent PD seemed to be the same across sexes.

Conclusion:  The combination of both a questionnaire- and an interview assessment of avoidant and dependent PD results in substantially higher heritabilities than previously found using single-occasion interviews only.