Relations of serotonin function to personality: Current views and a key methodological issue

Charles S. Carver, Christopher J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Studies of biological underpinnings of personality suggest that serotonergic functioning relates to certain personality traits. However, how to interpret the findings depends partly on assumptions about how personality is organized. These assumptions are reflected in the assessment devices used and also in how the data are examined. Review of evidence to date appears to link serotonin function to impulsivity and, to some extent, to hostility. The relation of serotonin function to anxiety proneness is far more questionable. Indeed, when such a relation occurs, it often takes a form opposite to the direction argued by theory. It is recommended that research use measures that discriminate adequately among personality qualities reflecting incentive sensitivity, threat sensitivity, and impulsiveness. Indeed, it is highly desirable to examine facets of each of these qualities separately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 30 2006


  • Anxiety
  • Harm avoidance
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality
  • Serotonin
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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