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21. Personality traits in ADHD


21. Personality traits in ADHD

Of the Big 5 personality traits according to the Five-Factor-Model (1), changes are found in particular in neuroticism (significantly increased), conscientiousness (significantly decreased), agreeableness (decreased) and extraversion (decreased) in relation to ADHD.

In addition to the Big 5 Five-Factor Model, there are other assessment instruments that measure personality traits, some of which correlate with those of the Big 5. Where this is the case, we have listed the correlating traits under the respective Big 5 trait and marked them with the following numbers for the assessment instrument in question. In addition, we have listed changes in these traits in ADHD. The results are largely congruent.

(1) Five-Factor Model
(2) Integrated Five-Factor Model
(4) Cloninger TCI
(5) ICD-11
(6) AMPD

21.1. Neuroticism (Emotional Reactivity)

Neuroticism (Emotional Reactivity)1

21.2. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness (top-down control process)1

21.3. Extraversion (approach tendencies)

  • Extraversion (approach tendencies)1
    • Reduced with ADHD2
    • Extraversion correlates with personality traits of other assessment instruments:
      • High Positive Emotionality (2)
        • Positive emotionality slightly reduced in case of inattention1
        • Positive emotionality slightly increased in hyperactivity1
      • High Reward dependence (4)
      • Low inhibitedness (3)
      • Low Harm avoidance (4)
      • Low detachment (aloofness) (5, 6)

21.4. Compatibility

Compatibility (Agreeableness; Bottom-Up Control Process)1

21.5. Openness to experience

Openness to experience (Openness)

  • Slightly increased in ADHD2
    • Not significantly increased; if, more likely in inattention and more likely in children1
    • Tends to increase with attention and inhibition problems2
    • Slightly decreased with increased delay discounting and atypical working memory / verbal fluency2
  • Openness to experience correlates with personality traits of other assessment instruments:
    • High openness (2)
    • High psychoticism (6)
    • High self-transcendence (spirituality) (4)

  1. Gomez, Corr (2014): ADHD and personality: a meta-analytic review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2014 Jul;34(5):376-88. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2014.05.002. PMID: 24929793. REVIEW

  2. Van Dijk, Mostert, Glennon, Onnink, Dammers, Vasquez, Kan, Verkes, Hoogman, Franke, Buitelaar(2017): Five factor model personality traits relate to adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder but not to their distinct neurocognitive profiles; Psychiatry Res. 2017 Aug 19. pii: S0165-1781(16)31724-3. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.08.037.

  3. Lynch, Sunderland, Newton, Chapman (2021): A systematic review of transdiagnostic risk and protective factors for general and specific psychopathology in young people. Clin Psychol Rev. 2021 Jul;87:102036. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2021.102036. PMID: 33992846. REVIEW

  4. Nigg, John, Blaskey, Huang-Pollock, Willcutt, Hinshaw, Pennington (2002): Big five dimensions and ADHD symptoms: links between personality traits and clinical symptoms. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Aug;83(2):451-469. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.83.2.451. PMID: 12150240. METASTUDY n = 1.620

  5. Jacobsson, Hopwood, Söderpalm, Nilsson (2021): Adult ADHD and emerging models of maladaptive personality: a meta-analytic review. BMC Psychiatry. 2021 Jun 1;21(1):282. doi: 10.1186/s12888-021-03284-1. PMID: 34074265; PMCID: PMC8170979. METASTUDY

  6. Krieger, Amador-Campos, Guàrdia-Olmos (2020): Executive functions, Personality traits and ADHD symptoms in adolescents: A mediation analysis. PLoS One. 2020 May 6;15(5):e0232470. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0232470. PMID: 32374779; PMCID: PMC7202790. n = 118

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