Personality dimensions and criminal arrest

Jack Samuels, O. Joseph Bienvenu, Bernadette Cullen, Paul T. Costa, William W. Eaton, Gerald Nestadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Previous studies have implicated antisocial personality disorder in criminal behavior, but little is known about the association between "normal" personality dimensions and arrest. We investigated the relationships between these personality dimensions and prior arrest in a sample of adults participating in a longitudinal epidemiological study. Between 1993 and 1999, psychiatrists re-examined subjects who were originally interviewed in Baltimore in 1981 as part of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study; the psychiatrists diagnosed axis I and axis II disorders according to DSM-IV criteria. A total of 611 subjects also completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R), which assesses five broad factors and 30 facets of normal personality. History of criminal arrest in Maryland in the period 1981 to 1993 was determined from the state criminal justice database. Student's t test and logistic regression were used to evaluate relationships between NEO personality scores and prior arrest. Controlling for demographic characteristics, alcohol or drug use disorders, and DSM-IV personality disorder scores, the odds of prior arrest increased with scores on angry hostility, impulsiveness, and excitement-seeking dimensions. Prior arrest was inversely related to scores on trust, straightforwardness, compliance, modesty, dutifulness, and deliberation dimensions. The results suggest that specific dimensions of normal personality are related to criminal arrest in the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-280
Number of pages6
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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