Personality and externalizing behavior in the transition to young adulthood: The additive value of personality facets

T.A. Klimstra, K. Luyckx, W.W. Hale, L. Goossens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The directionality of effects in the associations between personality and externalizing behavior (i.e., delinquency, soft drugs use, and alcohol abuse) is unclear. Moreover, previous studies only examined personality trait domains when examining these associations, whereas personality facets underlying these broad domains provide more specificity. To address these limitations, the present study examined the directionality of effects between externalizing behavior and personality while employing a facet-level approach to personality.
Cross-lagged panel models were employed to four annual measurement waves of longitudinal data on 485 Belgian-Caucasian late adolescents (87.4 % female; Mage = 18.63 years, SD = 0.61). Participants filled out the NEO-FFI as a measure of personality, the Deviant Behavior Scale as a measure of delinquency, and single items for soft drugs use and alcohol abuse on all four measurement occasions.
The incremental value of personality facets over broad trait domains was demonstrated, as it was often the case that only some, but not all, facets underlying a specific trait domain were significantly associated with specific externalizing behaviors. Furthermore, linkages between personality and externalizing behavior were shown to be complex. Depending on the personality trait domain or facet and the specific behavior under investigation, the directionality of effects may differ.
To capture the full complexity of the linkages between personality and externalizing behavior, a facet approach to personality is recommended. This information is potentially important for clinicians, as it indicates which specific aspects of a broad trait domain affect, and are affected by, specific externalizing behaviors.
Keywords: Personality, Big five, Externalizing problems, Adolescence, Personality facets
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1333
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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