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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2015 Feb;131(2):111-9. doi: 10.1111/acps.12304. Epub 2014 Jun 25.

Bipolar disorder and leadership--a total population study.

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  • 1Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



To investigate whether persons with bipolar disorder and their siblings have leadership traits and are overrepresented in executive professions.


A nested case-control study based on longitudinal Swedish total population registries. Data from officer suitability interviews (n=1,126,519), and information on occupations were collected. Bipolar patients (n=68,915) and their healthy siblings were compared with controls.


Bipolar patients without comorbidity (pure; n=22,980) were overrepresented in both the highest and lowest strata of officer suitability; their healthy siblings in the highest strata only. Patients with pure bipolar disorder were underrepresented in executive professions, whereas their siblings were overrepresented in these professions (particularly political professions). Patients with general bipolar disorder (including those with comorbidities) and their healthy siblings were overrepresented only in the lowest strata of officer suitability ratings. General bipolar patients were underrepresented in executive professions, whereas their siblings had similar rates of executive professions as controls. Adjusting results for IQ slightly attenuated point estimates, but resulted in pure bipolar patients and their siblings no longer being significantly overrepresented in superior strata of officer suitability, and siblings no longer being overrepresented in executive professions.


Results support that traits associated with bipolar disorder are linked to superior leadership qualities.

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


biological evolution; bipolar disorder; cognition; genetics; leadership

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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