The development of personality extremity from childhood to adolescence: Relations to internalizing and externalizing problems

Alithe L.Van den Akker, Peter Prinzie, Maja Deković, Amaranta D. De Haan, Jessica J. Asscher, Thomas Widiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study investigated the development of personality extremity (deviation of an average midpoint of all 5 personality dimensions together) across childhood and adolescence, as well as relations between personality extremity and adjustment problems. For 598 children (mean age at Time 1 = 7.5 years), mothers and fathers reported the Big Five personality dimensions 4 times across 8 years. Children's vector length in a 5-dimensional configuration of the Big Five dimensions represented personality extremity. Mothers, fathers, and teachers reported children's internalizing and externalizing problems at the 1st and final measurement. In a cohort-sequential design, we modeled personality extremity in children and adolescents from ages 6 to 17 years. Growth mixture modeling revealed a similar solution for both mother and father reports: a large group with relatively short vectors that were stable over time (mother reports: 80.3%; father reports: 84.7%) and 2 smaller groups with relatively long vectors (i.e., extreme personality configuration). One group started outrelatively extreme and decreased over time (mother reports: 13.2%; father reports: 10.4%), whereas the other group started out only slightly higher than the short vector group but increased across time (mother reports: 6.5%; father reports:4.9%). Children who belonged to the increasingly extreme class experienced more internalizing and externalizing problemsin late adolescence, controlling for previous levels of adjustment problems and the Big Five personality dimensions. Personality extremity may be important to consider when identifying children at risk for adjustment problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1038-1048
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Big five personality
  • Externalizing problems
  • Growth mixture modeling
  • Internalizing problems
  • Personality structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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