Associations between Facets and Aspects of Big Five Personality and Affective Disorders:A Systematic Review and Best Evidence Synthesis

Kieran Lyon, Rebecca Elliott, Kerry Ware, G. Juhasz, Laura Brown

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Background: Big Five personality traits correlate with affective disorders, with neuroticism considered a risk factor, and conscientiousness and extroversion considered protective factors. However, the relationships between affective disorders and lower-order personality facets and aspects are less clear.

Method: A systematic review was carried out to identify studies measuring associations between lower-order personality constructs and affective disorders. Big Five facets were measured using the NEO-PI-R, and aspects using the BFAS. PsycINFO, EMBASE, MedLine and OpenGrey were searched from January 1st, 1985 to June 30th, 2020. Fifteen studies met criteria and reported a total of 408 associations. Data were analysed using best evidence synthesis.

Results: Most facets of neuroticism were positively associated with affective disorders. Positive emotion in extroversion, and competence and self-discipline in conscientiousness, were negatively associated with affective disorders. Trust in agreeableness, and actions in openness, were negatively associated with anxiety disorders, whereas fantasy in openness was positively associated with anxiety disorders. At the aspect level, withdrawal in neuroticism was positively associated with MDD, whereas industriousness in conscientiousness was negatively associated with MDD.

Limitations: Due to the use the heterogenous measures between studies, a meta-analysis could not be performed. Only Big Five personality constructs were investigated, limited to BFAS personality aspects, and NEO-PI-R personality facets.

Conclusions: Neuroticism, positive emotion, competence and self-discipline correlate with various anxiety and depressive disorders. These facets may be endophenotypes for affective disorders in general. Future research is needed to investigate mediating pathways between personality facets and affective disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-188
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date26 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


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