Skip to main content

Study Looks at Personality Traits that Could Predict Adverse Psychedelic Experiences

March 30, 2021

Research recently published in the journal ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science has identified personality traits that have been associated with positive and negative experiences for patients in psychedelics studies. The findings could help guide practitioners in future studies identify patients who are more likely to have adverse reactions to the drugs and adjust dosages accordingly.

“The findings point to interesting testable things we can look at in future research,” Alan Davis, PhD, assistant professor of social work at The Ohio State University and senior author of the review, said in a news article published by the university. “It might be plausible to use threshold doses that are smaller than those used in a trial as a first exposure so people have less anxiety, experience the benefit and, from that, go into a higher dose later.”

For the research project, Davis and his colleagues reviewed 14 published clinical trials and other recent studies that documented participants’ personality traits/state of mind, as well as their associations with a positive or negative experience on psychedelics. Ten of the clinical trials involved the use of psilocybin, 2 involved LSD, 1 used ayahuasca, and 1 looked at psychedelic use in general.

The review found that patients who rate highly for openness, acceptance and absorption, and were more likely to be in a psychological state of surrendering to what transpires, were more likely to have positive psychedelic experiences. People with low ratings for those traits, on the other hand, were more likely to report adverse reactions.

Study first author Jacob Aday, a PhD candidate in psychology at Central Michigan, said in the Ohio State report that he and his fellow researchers also found evidence that increased experience with using psychedelics and increased age were associated with less intense effects. There were, however, no observed differences linked to patients’ gender.

Back to Top