DeYoung, Colin G.
Early Life and Educational Background
Colin Garcia-Mata DeYoung was born on April 3, 1976, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
In 1998, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard University in the history of science with a certificate in Mind, Brain, and Behavior (an interdisciplinary program in cognitive science). His honors thesis, conducted under the supervision of historian Richard Noll, was an analysis of Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, attempting to determine its standing as a scientific theory at the time when it was developed in the early twentieth century and documenting its reception in psychology and psychiatry. He completed his Master of Arts (2000) and PhD (2005) at the University of Toronto in personality psychology under the supervision of Jordan B. Peterson. In 2006, his dissertation, titled Cognitive Ability and Externalizing Behavior in a Psychobiological Personality Framework, won the J. S. Tanaka Dissertation Award from the Association for Research in Personality. From 2006 to 2008, he was a postdoctoral fellow, funded by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, at Yale University in the laboratory of Jeremy R. Gray. While at Yale, he trained in cognitive neuroscience using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and was one of the originators of the term “personality neuroscience” to describe the neuroscientific study of psychological individual differences.
Colin DeYoung became an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota in 2008. In 2012, he was tenured and promoted to associate professor. His primary affiliation is in the departmental area of Personality, Individual Differences, and Behavior Genetics. He received the SAGE Young Scholar Award from the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology in 2012. He has authored or coauthored over 80 peer-reviewed articles and over a dozen handbook chapters, as well as delivering over 100 conference talks and invited presentations. He is an associate editor for both Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Journal of Personality, and he previously served as associate editor for Journal of Research in Personality and Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences. Additionally, he is on the editorial boards of Personality Neuroscience; Journal of Research in Personality; Development and Psychopathology; Emotion; Journal of Personality Disorders; and Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. He serves on the executive committee for the World Association of Personality Psychology and is a member of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology consortium as well as the co-chair of its Neurobiological Foundations workgroup.
Colin DeYoung’s research interests center on the structure and sources of personality, which he takes to include all psychological individual differences, including cognitive abilities and persistent forms of psychopathology. His Cybernetic Big Five Theory attempts to provide a comprehensive, mechanistic account of personality, drawing on both psychological and neurobiological evidence. His research has employed various neuroscientific methods, including neuroimaging, electroencephalography, and molecular genetics, but focuses primarily on MRI. His psychological approach combines psychometrics with cybernetics (also known as control theory), the study of principles governing goal-directed, self-regulating systems.
Most of his research can be categorized within three broad topics. First, he has worked to delineate a hierarchical model of traits around the so-called “Big Five” personality traits. This work has involved providing evidence for levels of personality traits both broader and narrower than the Big Five. He has interpreted the two higher-order factors above the Big Five, or metatraits, as representing tendencies toward Stability and Plasticity, cybernetic concepts reflecting two basic needs of organisms: to maintain the stability of their goal-directed functioning and to explore and adapt flexibly to novelty. Beneath the Big Five, but above their many, narrow facet-level traits, he has identified two major subfactors or aspects of each of the Big Five. These aspects appear to reflect the most important distinction for discriminant validity within each of the Big Five, and aspects within the same Big Five dimension have demonstrated discriminant associations with intelligence, social behavior, gender, emotion, political attitudes, various cognitive processes, job performance, and psychopathology.
A second major focus of his research has been on traits and processes falling within the domain of Openness/Intellect, which he describes as cognitive exploration, the human capacity to generate interpretations of the causal and correlational structure of the world. This includes intelligence, creativity, insight, curiosity, and various supporting cognitive processes, such as working memory, implicit learning, and divergent thinking. It also includes apophenia, the tendency to perceive patterns that do not in fact exist, which is positively associated with both Openness to Experience (but not Intellect) and risk for psychosis. His third major research focus has been on links between personality and various forms of psychopathology. He has recently extended Cybernetic Big Five Theory to create a theory of psychopathology that reconceptualizes it as cybernetic dysfunction and attempts to identify mechanisms underlying the major dimensions of risk for psychopathology.
- Allen, T. A., & DeYoung, C. G. (2017). Personality neuroscience and the Five Factor Model. In T. A. Widiger (Ed.), Oxford handbook of the Five Factor Model (pp. 319–349). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- DeYoung, C. G. (2015a). Openness/intellect: A dimension of personality reflecting cognitive exploration. In M. L. Cooper & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The APA handbook of personality and social psychology: Personality processes and individual differences (Vol. 4, pp. 369–399). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- DeYoung, C. G., & Rueter, A. R. (2016). Impulsivity as a personality trait. In K. D. Vohs & R. F. Baumeister (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (3rd ed., pp. 345–363). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar