Personality from a realist's perspective: Personality traits, criminal behaviors, and the externalizing spectrum

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Abstract

Reviews ways in which the author's program of research has been influenced by Tellegen's (1991) conceptualization of personality traits as both real and biologically based entities. Analyses of longitudinal-epidemiological data on personality and criminal behavior indicate that personality measures and measures of criminal behavior can be conceived of as indicators of a latent, stable propensity to act in an unconstrained manner. In addition, an unconstrained personality style, substance dependence, and antisocial behavior can be modeled as indicators of a highly heritable propensity towards "externalizing" or acting-out behaviors, with environmental factors playing a key role in determining the specific way in which this general, heritable externalizing propensity is expressed. Such research outlines the value of concepts from personality psychology in understanding consequential behaviors in the population at large.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-572
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Robert F. Krueger is supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH65137. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study is supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants MH45070 and MH49414. I thank Avshalom Caspi and Kristian Markon for their helpful comments on a previous draft.

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