In psychology, harm avoidance (HA) is a personality trait characterized by excessive worrying; pessimism; shyness; and being fearful, doubtful, and easily fatigued. In MRI studies HA was correlated with reduced grey matter volume in the orbito-frontal, occipital and parietal regions.
Harm avoidance is a temperament assessed in the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), its revised version (TCI-R) and the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ) and is somewhat related to the trait "neuroticism" in the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, — all regarded as anxiety-related traits.
The HA of TPQ and TCI-R has four subscales:
- Anticipatory worry (HA1)
- Fear of uncertainty (HA2)
- Shyness/Shyness with strangers (HA3)
- Fatigability/Fatigability and asthenia (HA4)
It has been suggested that HA is related to high serotonergic activity, and much research has gone into investigating the link between HA and components of the serotonin system, e.g., genetic variation in 5-HTTLPR in the serotonin transporter gene.
- Cheung G.Stability of the harm avoidance personality trait in late-life depression. Int Psychogeriatr. 2007 Aug;19(4):778-80. PMID 17726762
- Gardini S, Cloninger CR, Venneri A. Brain Res Bull. Individual differences in personality traits reflect structural variance in specific brain regions. 2009 Jun 30;79(5):265-70. Epub 2009 Mar 28.PMID 19480986
- C. R. Cloninger (Autumn 1986). "A unified biosocial theory of personality and its role in the development of anxiety states". Psychiatric Developments 4 (3): 167–166. PMID 3809156.
- C. M. Mazzanti, J. Lappalainen, J. C. Long, D. Bengel, H. Naukkarinen, M. Eggert, M. Virkkunen, M. Linnoila & D. Goldman (October 1998). "Role of the serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism in anxiety-related traits". Archives of General Psychiatry 55 (10): 936–930. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.55.10.936. PMID 9783565.