A Person-Centered Personality Approach to Heterogeneity in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Michelle M. Martel, Timothy Goth-Owens, Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, Joel T. Nigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Person-centered personality approaches are an underused means of illuminating clinical heterogeneity of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In the present study, latent profile analysis was conducted with personality traits to identify homogeneous profiles within the ADHD population. Participants were 548 children ages 6-18 years (302 with ADHD). Personality traits were measured via parent report on the California Q-Sort (A. Caspi et al., 1992). Latent profile analysis was conducted on the Big 5 factors. A 6-profile solution best fit the data. Resulting groups were characterized as "disagreeable," "introverted," "poor control," "well adjusted," "extraverted," and "perfectionistic." External validation of this model using ADHD diagnosis, subtypes, and comorbid psychopathology suggested that children with ADHD could be parsed into 4 groups: (a) an introverted group with high rates of the ADHD-inattentive type, (b) a group characterized by poor control, with high rates of ADHD-combined type (ADHD-C) and comorbid disruptive behavior disorders, (c) an extraverted group, with ADHD-C and few associated comorbid disorders, and (c) possibly, a very rare "perfectionistic" group, exhibiting obsessive traits. A person-centered personality approach may be one promising way to capture homogeneous subgroups within the ADHD population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-196
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • ADHD
  • children
  • comorbidity
  • latent profile analysis
  • personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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