Across different personality theories, there is agreement that dopamine is the neurochemical basis of extraversion. However, evidence from molecular genetics for the validity of this hypothesis is far from convincing. The functional polymorphism of the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene (COMT VAL158MET) has not been related to extraversion before, although it is a promising candidate gene locus for extraversion because of its great influence on the catabolism of dopamine. In a sample of n=363 healthy study participants, the catechol-O-methyltransferase VAL158MET polymorphism was related to extraversion and novelty seeking.
Results showed a significant association between catechol-O-methyltransferase, extraversion and the subscale exploratory excitement (NS1) of novelty seeking but not with the total novelty-seeking scale supporting the psychometric analyses of the personality scales. The findings support the hypothesis that the dopamine system is involved in positive emotionality and incentive motivation, which has implications for the understanding of the neurochemical correlates of normal and psychopathological behaviors.