Traits and distorted symptom presentation: A scoping review

Daniël Van Helvoort*, Harald Merckelbach, Chijs Van Nieuwenhuizen, Henry Otgaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Are personality traits related to symptom overreporting and/or symptom underreporting? With this question in mind, we evaluated studies from 1979 to 2020 (k = 55), in which personality traits were linked to scores on stand-alone validity tests, including symptom validity tests (SVTs) and measures of socially desirable responding (SDR) and/or supernormality. As to symptom overreporting (k = 14), associations with depression, alexithymia, apathy, dissociation, and fantasy proneness varied widely from weak to strong (rs .27 to .79). For underreporting (k = 41), inconsistent links (rs − .43 to .63) were found with narcissism, whereas alexithymia and dissociation were often associated with lower SDR tendencies, although effect sizes were small. Taken together, the extant literature mainly consists of cross-sectional studies on single traits and contexts, mostly offering weak correlations that do not necessarily reflect causation. What this field lacks is an overarching theory relating traits to symptom reporting. Longitudinal studies involving a broad range of traits, samples, and incentives would be informative. Until such studies have been done, traits are best viewed as modest concomitants of symptom distortion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-171
JournalPsychological Injury & Law
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • CARDIOVASCULAR REACTIVITY
  • FANTASY PRONENESS
  • MALINGERED-SYMPTOMATOLOGY
  • NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
  • Overreporting
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • Personality
  • RESPONSE BIAS
  • SELF-ESTEEM
  • SOCIAL DESIRABILITY
  • STRUCTURED-INVENTORY
  • Symptom validity
  • TORONTO-ALEXITHYMIA-SCALE
  • Trait
  • Underreporting

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