Personality traits predict addictive behaviour: A prospective study
Background: The aim of this study was to examine whether personality traits predict the course of addictive behaviour in general and whether the predictive associations differ specifically between behaviour related (BR) and substance related (SR) addictive behaviour.
Methodology: We recruited 338 individuals (19-27 years, 59% female) from a random community sample with BR, SR, or no DSM-5 addictive disorder. Predictors were the ‘big five’ personality traits (NEO-FFI) and reward and punishment sensitivity (BIS/BAS questionnaire). Outcomes were the slopes of addictive behaviour (i.e., quantity and frequency of use and number of DSM-5 criteria met) over three years. Bayesian multiple regressions were used to analyse the probabilities for each hypothesis.
Results: The evidence that higher neuroticism, lower conscientiousness, lower agreeableness, higher extraversion, lower openness, higher reward sensitivity, and lower punishment sensitivity predict increased addictive behaviour over time was moderate to high overall (69% to 99%) depending on trait and outcome. Predictive associations were mostly higher for BR compared with SR addictive behaviour.
Conclusions: Personality traits predict the course of addictive behaviour, but to a lesser extent than expected. While some personality traits, such as lower conscientiousness, predict increases in BR and SR addictive behaviour over time, others, such as high neuroticism or lower punishment sensitivity, seem to specifically predict increases in BR addictive behaviour.