Colin G DeYoung

Photo of Colin G DeYoung

Contact Me

N422 Elliott Hall

75 East River Road


My research focuses broadly on the structure and sources of personality, attempting to discover the relations among different personality traits and the neurobiological systems that influence them. Psychometric research on personality has demonstrated that five broad domains (the "Big Five") can be used to organize most aspects of personality. They are: Neuroticism (sensitivity to threat and negative emotions); Extraversion (sensitivity to reward and positive emotions, often in social contexts); Agreeableness (altruism, empathy, and cooperation); Conscientiousness (orderliness, industriousness, and constraint); and Openness/Intellect (cognitive flexibility, imagination, and intelligence). Most traits reflecting individual differences in cognition, emotion, motivation, and behavior fall into one of these five domains or can be described in terms of two or more of them. My work has focused on characterizing the Big Five and their relations in ways that are consistent with neurobiological models.

Personality Neuroscience is an emerging field, exploring how individual differences in brain function produce individual differences in personality. My long-term goal is to map personality traits onto their sources in the ongoing functions of the brain, using neuroscience techniques including neuroimaging and molecular genetics. In addition to understanding general personality structure, my research has focused on cognitive abilities (such as intelligence, working memory, decision making, and insight), and externalizing behavior (which includes aggression, antisocial behavior, impulsivity, and drug use). I am interested both in normal personality functioning and in the ways that different personality traits and their underlying functions constitute risks for various forms of psychopathology.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Psychology, University of Toronto, 2005.
  • M.A.: Psychology, University of Toronto, 2000.
  • A.B.: History of Science, Harvard University, 1998.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Grazioplene, R. G., Peterson, J. B. (2012). From madness to genius: The Openness/Intellect trait domain as a paradoxical simplex. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 63-78.
  • DeYoung C. G. (2010). Personality neuroscience and the biology of traits. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 1165-1185.
  • DeYoung C. G. (2010). Toward a theory of the Big Five. Psychological Inquiry, 21, 26-33.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Hirsch, J.B., Shane, M. S., Papademetris, X., Rajeevan, N., & Gray, J. R. (2010). Testing predictions from personality neuroscience: Brain structure and the Big Five. Psychological Science, 21, 820-828.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Getchell, M., Koposov, R. A., Yrigollen, C. M., Haeffel, G. J., af Klinteberg, B., Oreland, L., Ruchkin, V. V., Pakstis, A. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2010). Variation in the catechol-O--methyltransferase Val158Met polymorphism associated with conduct disorder and ADHD symptons. Psychiatric Genetics, 20, 20-24.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Shamosh, N. A., Green, A. E., Braver, T. S., & Gray, J. R. (2009). Intellect as distinct from Openness: Differences revealed by fMRI of working memory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 883–892.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Peterson, J. B., Séguin, J. R., Pihl, R. O., & Tremblay, R. E. (2008). Externalizing behavior and the higher-order factors of the Big Five. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 947–953.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Quilty, L. C., & Peterson, J. B. (2007). Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 880–896.
  • DeYoung, C. G., Peterson, J. B., Séguin, J. R., Mejia, J. M., Pihl, R. O., Beitchman, J. H., Jain, U., Tremblay, R. E., Kennedy, J. L., & Palmour, R. M. (2006). The dopamine D4 receptor gene and moderation of the association between externalizing behavior and IQ. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 1410–1416.