Higher- And lower-order personality traits and cluster subtypes in social anxiety disorder

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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) can come in different forms, presenting problems for diagnostic classification. Here, we examined personality traits in a large sample of patients (N = 265) diagnosed with SAD in comparison to healthy controls (N = 164) by use of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP). In addition, we identified subtypes of SAD based on cluster analysis of the NEO-PI-R Big Five personality dimensions. Significant group differences in personality traits between patients and controls were noted on all Big Five dimensions except agreeableness. Group differences were further noted on most lower-order facets of NEO-PI-R, and nearly all KSP variables. A logistic regression analysis showed, however, that only neuroticism and extraversion remained significant independent predictors of patient/control group when controlling for the effects of the other Big Five dimensions. Also, only neuroticism and extraversion yielded large effect sizes when SAD patients were compared to Swedish normative data for the NEO-PI-R. A two-step cluster analysis resulted in three separate clusters labelled Prototypical (33%), Introvert-Conscientious (29%), and Instable-Open (38%) SAD. Individuals in the Prototypical cluster deviated most on the Big Five dimensions and they were at the most severe end in profile analyses of social anxiety, self-rated fear during public speaking, trait anxiety, and anxiety-related KSP variables. While additional studies are needed to determine if personality subtypes in SAD differ in etiological and treatment-related factors, the present results demonstrate considerable personality heterogeneity in socially anxious individuals, further underscoring that SAD is a multidimensional disorder.


  • Mădălina Elena Costache
  • Andreas Frick
  • Kristoffer Månsson
  • Jonas Engman
  • Vanda Faria
  • Olof Hjorth
  • Johanna M. Hoppe
  • Malin Gingnell
  • Örjan Frans
  • Johannes Björkstrand
  • Jörgen Rosén
  • Iman Alaie
  • Fredrik Åhs
  • Clas Linnman
  • Kurt Wahlstedt
  • Maria Tillfors
  • Ina Marteinsdottir
  • Mats Fredrikson
  • Tomas Furmark
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Uppsala universitet
  • Stockholm County Council
  • Max Planck Institute for Human Development
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • Dresden University of Technology
  • Mid Sweden University, Östersund
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Network
  • Karlstad University
  • Linköping University
  • Karolinska Institute

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Psykiatri
  • Tillämpad psykologi
TidskriftPLoS ONE
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 2020 apr 29
Peer review utfördJa