Salud Mental

Attachment styles predict personality traits according to a pilot study of patients with anxiety and mood disorders


Victor Israel Cervera-Solís
Manuel Alejandro Muñoz Suárez
José Francisco Cortés Sotres
José Octavio Hernández Lagunas
Adriana Díaz-Anzaldúa


Introduction. The mother and child attachment could have an important and long-lasting impact. An insecure attachment could lead to emotional development difficulties. It has been suggested that maternal care in infants is associated with personality. However, more studies in adults are needed.

Objective. To determine if attachment styles in subjects with affective or anxiety disorders are associated with the expression of personality traits, and if this effect can be modulated by the presence of the short allele of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism.

Method. Our sample included 87 patients with mood or anxiety disorders. The NEO-PI-R questionnaire and the Adult Attachment questionnaire by Melero were used.

Results. Insecure attachment styles were associated with a higher expression of neuroticism, and a lower expression of extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, especially in individuals with the most insecure attachment. An interaction was identified between the attachment style and the 5-HTTLPR genotype on the expression of agreeableness. Higher neuroticism, and lower extraversion and conscientiousness tended to be present in carriers of the S allele.

Discussion and conclusion. There was a significant association between the attachment styles and the expression of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness-responsibility according to the Big Five Model. The short allele may be associated with the modulation of certain aspects of personality. Prevention strategies should be established to promote adequate attachments between infants and caregivers to avoid a possible risk factor for future maladaptive personality traits.
Personality and attachment, NEO-PI-R, gene-environment interactions, 5-HTTLPR, SLC6A4


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