Background: Quantitative endophenotypes are needed to better understand the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. The psychobiological model of temperament and character suggests that personality traits are heritable and regulated by brain systems influencing schizophrenia susceptibility. Thus, measures of temperament and character may serve as schizophrenia-related endophenotypes in individuals with schizophrenia and their non-psychotic siblings. Methods: Individuals with schizophrenia (n = 35), their non-psychotic siblings (n = 34), controls (n = 63), and their siblings (n = 56) participated in a study of the clinical, neurocognitive and neuromorphological characteristics of schizophrenia. A mixed-model approach assessed group differences on the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Neurocognitive deficits and psychopathology were correlated with the TCI. Configurations of TCI domains were examined using a generalized linear model. Results: Individuals with schizophrenia and their non-psychotic siblings had higher harm avoidance than controls and their siblings. Individuals with schizophrenia had lower self-directedness and cooperativeness, and higher self-transcendence than their non-psychotic siblings, controls, and the siblings of controls. Neurocognition was not related to temperament and character in individuals with schizophrenia or either control group. In non-psychotic siblings, self-directedness and cooperativeness were correlated with working memory and crystallized IQ. Conclusion: Evidence supports harm avoidance as a schizophrenia-related endophenotype. An increased risk of schizophrenia may be associated with asociality (configured as high harm avoidance and low reward dependence), schizotypy (configured as low self-directedness, low cooperativeness, and high self-transcendence), and neurocognitive deficits (poor executive functioning, working/episodic memory, attention, and low IQ). The non-psychotic siblings demonstrated features of a mature character profile including strong crystallized IQ, which may confer protection against psychopathology.
- Temperament and character