Research Topic

Dopaminergic Foundations of Personality and Individual Differences

About this Research Topic

For several decades, theory and research has drawn links between dopaminergic neurotransmission and various aspects of personality and individual differences, as well as major personality processes. Recent increases in the availability and affordability of neuroscience methods have permitted thorough ...

For several decades, theory and research has drawn links between dopaminergic neurotransmission and various aspects of personality and individual differences, as well as major personality processes. Recent increases in the availability and affordability of neuroscience methods have permitted thorough investigation of such links as part of the thriving field of personality neuroscience. However, the picture emerging from this body of research is somewhat puzzling; Rather than being linked to only a few converging dimensions of individual differences in psychological functioning, dopamine seems to be associated with a wide range of rather disparate traits and psychopathological conditions including (among various others) impulsivity, extraversion, anxiety, reward sensitivity, approach behaviour, achievement motivation, working memory performance, cognitive flexibility, depression, anhedonia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. Empirical research in this area typically focuses on only one piece of this puzzle based on a specific strand of theory and a narrow section of relevant prior findings. The present research topic will, for the first time, attempt to provide a fairly complete picture of the whole puzzle including all its disparate parts. Contributors will therefore be explicitly encouraged to go beyond their own specific dopamine-personality hypotheses and place their work in a broader context, thereby helping to forge links between largely non-overlapping research traditions.

For the proposed research topic, we will seek original research papers examining markers of dopaminergic neurotransmission in relation to individual differences in psychological functioning. Such research may come from the complete methodological spectrum available on the human level including neuroimaging, molecular genetics, and pharmacological manipulations, but also more indirect markers of dopamine such as eye-blink rate or behavioural measures sensitive to fluctuations in dopamine. We will especially encourage submissions employing measures of multiple psychological traits and/or indicators of dopaminergic neurotransmission in keeping with our aim to foster an integrative perspective. We will also explicitly encourage both qualitative and quantitative reviews of relevant portions of the literature, and theoretical contributions (especially those supported by formal and computational modelling procedures) targeting multiple pieces of the dopamine-personality puzzle.

The multitude of relationships that have been observed between markers of dopamine function and individual differences are fascinating, but also frustrating. If the field of personality neuroscience is to avoid becoming a series of disconnected demonstrations that personality is related to neural processes, it is essential that sufficiently inclusive theoretical accounts are developed to explain these data. We hope that this research topic will not only give a snapshot of the current state of this literature, but also help to build a more integrated explanatory framework for the dopaminergic foundations of human personality.


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