The Role of Lower-Order Big Five Personality Constructs in Affective Disorder Symptoms: Associations and Mediating Mechanisms

  • Kieran Lyon

Student thesis: Phd


Introduction Big Five personality traits are transdiagnostic factors in affective disorders. These traits can be split into narrow lower-order personality constructs, such as personality aspects and facets. This PhD aimed to identify lower-order personality constructs explaining variance in affective disorders, and to identify mediators through with personality constructs predict affective disorders. Methods Five studies are presented. Paper One investigated whether rumination facets mediated the effects of Big Five traits on depressive symptoms. Paper Two presents a systematic review of 15 studies investigating associations between lower-order personality constructs and affective disorder scores. Using multiple regression, Paper Three investigated which personality facets uniquely explained variance in affective disorder scores. Papers One and Three used existing data from the “NewMood” dataset. Papers Four and Five investigated the mediating effects of emotion regulation; additionally, Paper Five investigated the mediating role of affective cognition. In Papers One, Four and Five, data were analysed using structural equation modelling; Papers Four and Five used online samples from the University of Manchester. Results Paper One found that the effects of most Big Five traits on depressive symptoms were mediated by rumination facets. Papers Two and Three found that affective disorders were best explained by the personality facets depression (referring to sadness and demotivation, not clinical depression), gregariousness, assertiveness, positive emotion, and competence. Papers Four and Five added that several of these relationships were mediated by emotion regulation and affective cognition. Conclusions This PhD has contributed to the literature by identifying which lower-order personality constructs contribute to affective disorder scores, and the mediators of emotion regulation and affective cognition. These findings may improve understanding of the development of affective disorders, and benefit personality-informed interventions, such as treatment-matching by personality.
Date of Award1 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRebecca Elliott (Supervisor) & Laura Brown (Supervisor)


  • coping
  • structural equation modelling
  • affective cognition
  • emotion regulation
  • depression
  • affective disorder
  • facet
  • big five
  • personality
  • anxiety

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