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Am J Psychiatry. 2007 Nov;164(11):1722-8.

The relationship between avoidant personality disorder and social phobia: a population-based twin study.

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  • 1Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Box 4404, Nydalen N-0403, Oslo, Norway.



The purpose of this study was to determine the sources of comorbidity for social phobia and dimensional representations of avoidant personality disorder by estimating to what extent the two disorders are influenced by common genetic and shared or unique environmental factors versus the extent to which these factors are specific to each disorder.


Young adult female-female twin pairs (N=1,427) from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel were assessed at personal interview for avoidant personality disorder and social phobia using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Bivariate Cholesky models were fitted using the Mx statistical program.


The best-fitting model included additive genetic and unique environmental factors only. Avoidant personality disorder and social phobia were influenced by the same genetic factors, whereas the environmental factors influencing the two disorders were uncorrelated.


Within the limits of statistical power, these results suggest that there is a common genetic vulnerability to avoidant personality disorder and social phobia in women. An individual with high genetic liability will develop avoidant personality disorder versus social phobia entirely as a result of the environmental risk factors unique to each disorder. The results are in accordance with the hypothesis that psychobiological dimensions span the axis I and axis II disorders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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