The Impact of Personality Pathology Across Three Generations: Evidence From the St. Louis Personality and Intergenerational Network Study

Allison N. Shields*, Thomas F. Oltmanns, Michael J. Boudreaux, Sarah E. Paul, Ryan Bogdan, Jennifer L. Tackett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Personality disorder (PD) symptoms in a parent generation may confer risk for problems in future generations, but intergenerational transmission has not been studied beyond parent–child effects. We examined the generational transfer of risk associated with PDs using structural models of grandparent personality pathology and grandchild psychopathology among 180 adults (mean age = 66.9 years), 218 of their children (mean age = 41.2 years), and 337 of their grandchildren (mean age = 10.5 years). We found evidence for general and heterotypic domain-specific transmission. Specifically, broad grandparent personality pathology was associated with broad grandchild psychopathology (b = 0.15, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [−0.01, 0.31]); at the domain level, grandparent internalizing personality pathology was associated with grandchild externalizing psychopathology (b = 0.06, 95% CI = [0.01, 0.12]). Neither association was significantly mediated by parental personality pathology. These findings indicate that personality pathology in one generation confers risk for psychopathology across subsequent generations. Such intergenerational transmission operates across broad rather than specific (i.e., individual disorder) psychopathology domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Psychological Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • developmental psychopathology
  • grandchildren
  • intergenerational transmission
  • personality pathology
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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