Heritability and nineteen-year stability of long and short EPQ-R neuroticism scales

Andrew J. Birley, Nathan A. Gillespie, Andrew C. Heath, Patrick F. Sullivan, Dorret I. Boomsma, Nicholas G. Martin

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The heritability and stability over a 19 year period of long (23-item) and short (12-item) versions of Eysenck's Neuroticism scale were compared in a large Australian twin-family sample. Stability over 19 years of the 23-item Neuroticism scale was 0.62 and for the 12-item scale 0.59. Correlations between scores obtained by mailed questionnaire and telephone interview a few weeks apart were 0.87 for the long scale and 0.85 for the short scale; scores obtained by mail were slightly higher, particularly for females. The 12-item scale had slightly reduced power to discriminate both high and low scoring individuals on the full 23-item scale. Mean Neuroticism score for the 12-item scale was atypically low when compared to the distribution of the complete set of scores for all possible combinations (>1 million) of 12-items drawn from the full 23-item EPQ-R. Mean heritabilities for the lowest and highest 300,000 of these combinations were 43.2% and 42.7%, respectively, somewhat higher than the 41.0% for the actual EPQ-R-S 12-item scale. Heritability for the 23-item scale was 46.5%. We conclude that there is little loss of either stability or heritability in using the short EPQ-R scale, but the choice of which 12-items could have been better.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-747
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Eysenck Personality Questionnaire
  • Heritability
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality
  • Short-form EPQ-R-S
  • Stability


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