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Published: June 24, 2017
Eric Mason

ADHD and Personality



Big Five Dimensions and ADHD Symptoms: Links between Personality Traits and Clinical Symptoms


Overview: Aims and Hypothesis

This research sought to examine the link between personality factors and ADHD in adults. The researchers expected there to be a link between certain personality characteristics, such as Conscientiousness (low), Neuroticism (high), and Agreeableness (low).


To measure personality traits, the NEO Five Factor Inventory and Big Five Inventory were used. Both self-reports and spouse-reports were used. Convergent validity was found to be high for these two measures across all personality traits measured.  The Wender-Utah Rating scale, the mainstream DSM-IV approach, and Achenbach’s multifactorial for concurrent adult symptoms were used to measure ADHD. Convergence correlations were high for all three ADHD measures across attention and hyperactivity.


Four different sample were used in this study. Sample 1: 535 Michigan Undergraduates. Sample 2: 293 Denver Undergraduates. Sample 3: 142 Michigan Parents. Sample 4: 290 Denver Parents.



ADHD symptoms were related to three personality dimensions from the Big Five—agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. That is, those with ADHD symptoms scored lower on agreeableness and conscientiousness, and higher on neuroticism. The research found that extraversion, usually regarded as a positive personality trait and thought to correlate positively with ADHD, did not actually have a positive correlation with ADHD.

This research attempts to establish a connection between personality and ADHD symptoms or the perception of one’s personality by others which may be influenced by the expression of ADHD symptoms. Furthermore, it opens up the possibility that ADHD symptoms in childhood may influence development of personality. Perhaps, this reveals the importance of treating ADHD symptoms in children as it may lead to undesirable personality traits later in life.


Nigg, J.T., et al. (2002). Big five dimensions and adhd symptoms: Links between personality

traits and clinical symptoms. Journal of personality and social psychology, 83. 451-469.



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