Big five dimensions and ADHD symptoms: Links between personality traits and clinical symptoms

Joel T. Nigg, Lisa G. Blaskey, Cynthia L. Huang-Pollock, Stephen P. Hinshaw, Oliver P. John, Erik G. Willcutt, Bruce Pennington

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adulthood is conceptualized as originating in childhood. Despite considerable theoretical interest, little is known about how ADHD symptoms relate to normal personality traits in adults. In 6 studies, the Big Five personality dimensions were related to ADHD symptoms that adults both recalled from childhood and reported concurrently (total N = 1,620). Substantial effects emerged that were replicated across samples. First, the ADHD symptom cluster of inattention-disorganization was substantially related to low Conscientiousness and, to a lesser extent, Neuroticism. Second, ADHD symptom clusters of hyperactivity-impulsivity and oppositional childhood and adult behaviors were associated with low Agreeableness. Results were replicated with self-reports and observer reports of personality in community and clinical samples. Findings support theoretical connections between personality traits and ADHD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-469
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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