Objective: To investigate the role of personality factors and attentional biases towards emotional faces, in establishing concurrent and prospective risk for mental disorder diagnosis in adolescence. Method: Data were obtained as part of the IMAGEN study, conducted across 8 European sites, with a community sample of 2257 adolescents. At 14 years, participants completed an emotional variant of the dot-probe task, as well two personality measures, namely the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale and the revised NEO Personality Inventory. At 14 and 16 years, participants and their parents were interviewed to determine symptoms of mental disorders. Results: Personality traits were general and specific risk indicators for mental disorders at 14 years. Increased specificity was obtained when investigating the likelihood of mental disorders over a 2-year period, with the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale showing incremental validity over the NEO Personality Inventory. Attentional biases to emotional faces did not characterise or predict mental disorders examined in the current sample. Discussion: Personality traits can indicate concurrent and prospective risk for mental disorders in a community youth sample, and identify at-risk youth beyond the impact of baseline symptoms. This study does not support the hypothesis that attentional biases mediate the relationship between personality and psychopathology in a community sample. Task and sample characteristics that contribute to differing results among studies are discussed.
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