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The NEO-Five-Factor Inventory divides human personality traits into five dimensions: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness. In this study, we sought to identify regions harboring genes with large effects on the five NEO personality traits by performing genome-wide linkage analysis of individuals scoring in the extremes of these traits (>90th percentile). Affected-only linkage analysis was performed using an Illumina 6K linkage array in a family-based study, the Erasmus Rucphen Family study. We subsequently determined whether distinct, segregating haplotypes found with linkage analysis were associated with the trait of interest in the population. Finally, a dense single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping array (Illumina 318K) was used to search for copy number variations (CNVs) in the associated regions. In the families with extreme phenotype scores, we found significant evidence of linkage for conscientiousness to 20p13 (rs1434789, log of odds (LOD)=5.86) and suggestive evidence of linkage (LOD >2.8) for neuroticism to 19q, 21q and 22q, extraversion to 1p, 1q, 9p and12q, openness to 12q and 19q, and agreeableness to 2p, 6q, 17q and 21q. Further analysis determined haplotypes in 21q22 for neuroticism (P-values = 0.009, 0.007), in 17q24 for agreeableness (marginal P-value = 0.018) and in 20p13 for conscientiousness (marginal P-values = 0.058, 0.038) segregating in families with large contributions to the LOD scores. No evidence for CNVs in any of the associated regions was found. Our findings imply that there may be genes with relatively large effects involved in personality traits, which may be identified with next-generation sequencing techniques.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Psychiatry

Publication Date





1031 - 1041


Adolescent, Adult, Aggression, Anxiety Disorders, Child, Chromosomes, Human, Cohort Studies, Consciousness, DNA Copy Number Variations, Emotional Intelligence, Extraversion (Psychology), Family Health, Female, Genetic Linkage, Genome-Wide Association Study, Genotype, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Netherlands, Neuroticism, Personality, Personality Inventory, Phenotype, Young Adult