Neuroticism and social inadequacy

Neuroticism and social inadequacy

LASA filenames:
LASA123 / LASA323

Contact: Almar Kok


Personality refers to enduring personal characteristics that are revealed in a particular pattern of behavior in a variety of situations. There is a strong association between personality characteristics and psychopathology, such as depression (Klein et al., 2011).

Measurement instruments in LASA

In LASA, two personality subscales are included. Neuroticism measured by the NPV, the Nederlandse Persoonlijkheids Vragenlijst (DPQ, the Dutch Personality Questionnaire) (Luteijn et al., 1975). This subscale was shortened from 20 to 15 items. Persons with high scores on neuroticism tend to experience a broad range of negative moods, including fear or anxiety, sadness or depression, but also guilt, hostility, and self-dissatisfaction.

Control in the social domain was measured using the Social Inadequacy scale, which was shortened from 15 to 10 items in the present study. Persons scoring high on social inadequacy are socially ill at ease and feel they cannot easily relate to other people.

The selection of questions on neuroticism and social inadequacy is based on pilot studies prior to the start of the first LASA cycle (Smits et al., 1995; Steunenberg et al., 2003). Out of a list of 35 items from the Dutch Personality Questionnaire, a subset of 25 items was selected.

Data were collected in the written questionnaire. Question format and response categories were identical for both scales. Respondents were asked to indicate whether various statements applied to them (applicable (2), do not know (1), not applicable (0)). There is no generally used cut-off score.

Scale construction

In order to construct a total score of neuroticism, the negative items (item 1 and item 25) are recoded (3=0, 2=1, 1=2). The scale is created by summing the scores on the items. Thus, a minimum score of 0 indicates the least neuroticism and a scale of 30 the most neuroticism. If more than 4 items are missing, no scale score is computed. If less than 4 items are missing, items receive a score of 1, which is considered neutral.

The social inadequacy scale is created by summing the scores of the items. Thus, a minimum score of 0 indicates the least social inadequacy and a scale of 20 the most social inadequacy. If more than 3 items are missing, no scale score is computed. If less than 3 items are missing, items receive a score of 1, which is considered neutral.

The scales are based on the following item numbers:

  • Neuroticism scale, items 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 25 (range 0-30)
  • Social inadequacy scale, items 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23 (range 0-20)

LASAB123 / LASAC123 / LASAD123 / LASAE123 / LAS2B123 / LAS3B123 (self-administered questionnaire, in Dutch)

Variable information

LASAB123, LASAC123, LASAD123, LASAE123, LAS2B123, LAS3B123: scores on the items of the Neuroticism and Social Inadequacy scales;
LASAB323, LASAC323, LASAD323, LASAE323 LAS2B123, LAS3B123: total score on Neuroticism (*qneurot; range 0 – 30) and Social Inadequacy (*qsocina; range 0 – 20) scales.

Availability of information per wave



Social inadequacy


¹ More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort

Sa=data collected in self-administered questionnaire

Previous use in LASA

Within LASA personality characteristics have been examined: the association with depression (van den Heuvel et al 1996; Steunenberg et al. 2006, 2007, 2010), the relation between neuroticism, memory complaints and successive cognitive impairment (Comijs et al., 2002) and in relation to stability and change of emotional functioning (de Beurs et al. 2005).


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  2. Heuvel N van den, Smits CH, Deeg DJ, Beekman AT. Personality: a moderator of the relation between cognitive functioning and depression in adults aged 55-85? J Affect Disord. 1996, 16;41(3):229-40.
  3. Klein DN, Kotov R, Bufferd SJ. Personality and depression: explanatory models and review of the evidence. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2011;7:269-95.
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  7. Steunenberg, B., Beekman A.T.F., Deeg, D.J.H., Kerkhof, A.J.F.M., (2003). Neuroticisme bij ouderen: De bruikbaarheid van de verkorte inadequatie- en sociale- inadequatieschalen van de NPV [Neuroticism in the elderly. The utility of the shortened DPQ-scales] (in Dutch). Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie, Jun; 34 (3): 118- 124.
  8. Steunenberg B, Beekman AT, Deeg DJ, Kerkhof AJ. Personality and the onset of depression in late life. J Affect Disord. 2006 Jun;92(2-3):243-51.
  9. Steunenberg B, Beekman AT, Deeg DJ, Bremmer MA, Kerkhof AJ. Mastery and neuroticism predict recovery of depression in later life. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2007;15(3):234-42.
  10. Steunenberg, B., Beekman, A.T.F., Deeg, D.J.H., Kerkhof, A.J.F.M. (2010). Personality predicts recurrence of late-life depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 123, 164-172.

Date of last update: December, 2019