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Family history of alcoholism and the stability of personality in young adulthood
Abstract and Figures
The authors examined the magnitude and durability of personality differences related to family history of alcoholism (FH) and the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) in late adolescence and early adulthood. Data were taken from a longitudinal sample (N = 487; approximately half FH-positive [+]) who completed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (H. J. Eysenck & S. B. G. Eysenck, 1975) at 3 points spanning 11 years (participants were 18 years old at baseline). Hierarchical linear analyses showed that FH+ participants had higher levels of neuroticism and psychoticism over the study period, independent of AUD. Despite relatively large mean decreases in neuroticism (as well as extraversion), the magnitude of the between-groups differences found at age 18 were maintained over the next decade. These changes thus reflect stable underlying differences in personality and not artifacts of higher rates of AUDs in FH+ individuals, recently living in an alcoholic home, vulnerability to the developmental challenge of leaving home, and/or a developmental lag.
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