Do Personality Traits Predict Functional Impairment and Quality of Life in Adult ADHD? A Controlled Study

J. Allison He, Kevin M. Antshel, Joseph Biederman, Stephen V. Faraone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the association of personality traits and characteristics on quality of life and functioning in adults with ADHD. Method: Participants were adults with (n = 206) and without ADHD (n = 123) who completed the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (Q-LES-Q), and the Social Adjustment Scale–Self-Report (SAS-SR). Participants also provided information on academic, motor vehicle operation, legal, social, familial, and occupational functioning. Outcomes were examined using stepwise linear regression, logistic regression (for binary outcomes), and negative binomial regression (for count outcomes) controlling for ADHD symptoms, psychiatric comorbidity, and executive dysfunction. Results: Adults with ADHD significantly differed from controls across nearly all TCI personality domains. On average, adults with ADHD endorsed more novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and self-transcendence, and less reward dependence, persistence, self-directedness, and cooperativeness. Personality traits and characteristics, especially self-directedness, significantly predicted functional impairments even after controlling for ADHD symptoms, executive function deficits, and current psychiatric comorbidities. Conclusion: In adults with ADHD, personality traits exert unique associations on quality of life and functional impairment across major life domains, beyond the relations expected of and associated with ADHD symptoms and other associated psychiatric conditions and cognitive vulnerabilities. Addressing personality traits in adults with ADHD may lead to improvements in quality of life and reductions in functional impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • ADHD
  • adult ADHD
  • functional impairment
  • personality
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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