Skip to main content Accessibility help

Dimensional representations of DSM-IV cluster B personality disorders in a population-based sample of Norwegian twins: a multivariate study

  • S. Torgersen (a1) (a2), N. Czajkowski (a1) (a3), K. Jacobson (a4), T. Reichborn-Kjennerud (a3) (a5) (a6), E. Røysamb (a1) (a3), M. C. Neale (a7) and K. S. Kendler (a7)...



The personality disorders (PDs) in the ‘dramatic’ cluster B [antisocial (ASPD), histrionic (HPD), narcissistic (NPD) and borderline (BPD)] demonstrate co-morbidity. However, the degree to which genetic and/or environmental factors influence their co-occurrence is not known and, with the exception of ASPD, the relative impact of genetic and environmental risk factors on liability to the cluster B PDs has not been conclusively established.


PD traits were assessed in 1386 Norwegian twin pairs between the age of 19 and 35 years using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SIDP-IV). Using the statistical package Mx, multivariate twin models were fitted to dimensional representations of the PDs.


The best-fitting model, which did not include sex or shared family environment effects, included common genetic and environmental factors influencing all four dramatic PD traits, and factors influencing only ASPD and BPD. Heritability was estimated at 38% for ASPD traits, 31% for HPD traits, 24% for NPD traits and 35% for BPD traits. BPD traits had the lowest and ASPD traits the highest disorder-specific genetic variance.


The frequently observed co-morbidity between cluster B PDs results from both common genetic and environmental influences. Etiologically, cluster B has a ‘substructure’ in which ASPD and BPD are more closely related to each other than to the other cluster B disorders.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Dr S. Torgersen, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, PostBox 1094, Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway. (Email:


Hide All
Akaike, H (1987). Factor analysis and AIC. Psychometrica 52, 317332.
APA (1980). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edn. American Psychiatric Association: Washington, DC.
Cloninger, CR, Reich, TSB, Guze, SB (1975). The multifactorial model of disease transmission: III. Familial relationship between sociopathy and hysteria (Briquet's syndrome). British Journal of Psychiatry 12, 2332.
Coolidge, FL, Thede, LL, Jang, KL (2001). Heritability of personality disorders in childhood: a preliminary investigation. Journal of Personality Disorders 15, 3340.
Costa, PT, McCrae, RR (1990). Personality disorders and the five-factor model of personality. Journal of Personality Disorders 4, 362371.
Fossati, A, Maffei, C, Bagnoto, M, Battaglia, M, Donati, D, Donimi, M, Fiorilli, M, Novella, L, Prolo, F (2000). Pattern of covariation of DSM-IV personality disorders in a mixed psychiatric sample. Comprehensive Psychiatry 41, 206215.
Grilo, C, McGlashan, T (2000). Convergent and discriminant validity of DSM-IV axis II personality disorder criteria in adult outpatients with binge eating disorder. Comprehensive Psychiatry 41, 163166.
Harris, JR, Magnus, P, Tambs, K (2002). The Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel: a description of the sample and program of research. Twin Research 5, 415423.
Helgeland, MI, Torgersen, S (2004). Developmental antecedents of borderline personality disorder. Comprehensive Psychiatry 45, 138147.
Jang, KL, Livesley, WJ, Vernon, PA, Jackson, DN (1996). Heritability of personality disorder traits: a twin study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia 94, 438444.
Jöreskog, KG, Sörbom, D (1993). LISREL 8: Structural Equation Modeling with the SIMPLIS Command Language. Scientific Software International, Inc.: Chicago.
Kendler, KS, Czajkowski, N, Tambs, K, Torgersen, S, Aggen, SH, Neal, MS, Reichborn-Kjennerud, T (2006). Dimensional representations of DSM-IV cluster A personality disorders in a population-based sample of Norwegian twins: a multivariate study. Psychological Medicine 36, 15831596.
Lake, R, Eaves, L, Maes, H, Heath, A, Martin, N (2000). Further evidence against the environmental transmission of individual differences in neuroticism from a collaborative study of 45 850 twins and relatives on two continents. Behavior Genetics 30, 223233.
Livesley, WJ, Jang, KL, Vernon, PA (1998). Phenotypic and genetic structure of traits delineating personality disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry 55, 941948.
Moldin, S, Rice, J, Erlenmeyer-Kimling, L, Squires-Wheeler, E (1994). Latent structure of DSM-III-R axis II psychopathology in a normal sample. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 103, 259266.
Morey, LC, Alexander, GM, Boggs, C (2005). Gender. In Textbook of Personality Disorders (ed. Oldham, J. M., Skodol, A. E. and Bender, D. S.), pp. 541560. American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, DC.
Neale, MC, Eaves, LJ, Kendler, KS (1994). The power of the classical twin study to resolve variation in threshold traits. Behavior Genetics 24, 239258.
Neale, MC, Røysamb, E, Jacobson, K (2006). Multivariate genetic analysis of sex limitation and G×E interaction. Twin Research and Human Genetics 9, 481489.
Nestadt, G, Eaton, WW, Romanoski, AJ, Garrison, R, Folstein, MF, McHugh, PR (1994). Assessment of DSM-III personality structure in a general-population survey. Comprehensive Psychiatry 35, 5463.
Pfohl, B, Blum, N, Zimmerman, M (1995). Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality: SIDP-IV. American Psychiatric Press: Washington, DC.
Reichborn-Kjennerud, T, Czaikowski, N, Neale, MS, Ørstavik, RE, Torgersen, S, Tambs, K, Røysamb, E, Harris, JR, Kendler, KS (2007). Genetic and environmental influences on dimensional representations of DSM-IV cluster C personality disorders: a population-based multivariate twin study. Psychological Medicine 37, 645653.
Rhee, SH, Waldman, ID (2002). Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior: a meta-analysis of twin and adoption studies. Psychological Bulletin 128, 490529.
SAS Consulting, Department of Statistics (2002). SAS OnlineDoc Version 9.1.3 (8). SAS Institute Inc: Cary, NC.
Saulsman, L, Page, A (2004). The five-factor model and personality disorder empirical literature: a meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review 23, 10551085.
Saulsman, L, Page, A (2005). Corrigendum to ‘The five-factor model and personality disorder empirical literature: a meta-analytic review’. Clinical Psychology Review 25, 383394.
Soldz, S, Budman, S, Demby, A, Merry, J (1993). Representation of personality disorders in circumplex and five-factor space: exploration with a clinical sample. Psychological Assessment 5, 4152.
Torgersen, S (2005 a). Behavioral genetics of personality. Current Psychiatry Report 7, 5156.
Torgersen, S (2005 b). Epidemiology. In Textbook of Personality Disorders (ed. Oldham, J. M., Skodol, A. E. and Bender, D. S.), pp. 129142. American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, DC.
Torgersen, S, Kringlen, E, Cramer, V (2001). The prevalence of personality disorders in a community sample. Archives of General Psychiatry 58, 590596.
Torgersen, S, Lygren, S, Øien, P, Skre, I, Onstad, S, Edvardsen, J, Tambs, K, Kringlen, E (2000). A twin study of personality disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry 41, 416425.
Trull, TJ (1992). DSM-III-R personality disorders and the five-factor model of personality: an empirical comparison. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 101, 553560.
Zimmerman, M, Coryell, W (1989). DSM-III personality disorder diagnoses in a nonpatient sample. Demographic correlates and comorbidity. Archives of General Psychiatry 46, 682689.
Zimmerman, M, Coryell, W (1990). DSM-III personality disorder dimensions. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 178, 686692.
Zimmerman, M, Rotschild, L, Chelminski, I (2005). The prevalence of DSM-IV personality disorders in psychiatric outpatients. American Journal of Psychiatry 162, 19111918.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed