Thomas Oltmanns

Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences​
Professor of Psychiatry
Edgar James Swift Professor in Arts and Sciences
PhD, Stony Brook University
BA, University of Wisconsin, Madison
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1125
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Oltmanns is interested in the assessment of personality and personality pathology, particularly with regard to discrepancies between people’s descriptions of themselves and the ways in which they are described by others. 

    Oltmanns' lab is conducting a prospective, longitudinal study of the stability and impact of personality pathology in later life, known as the SPAN Study.  The project is concerned with connections among personality traits, personality disorders, health, and social adjustment in a representative, community-based sample of 1,600 persons between the ages of 55 and 64---those approaching the challenges of later life. It will identify ways in which personality and personality disorders influence the ability to adapt successfully to important life transitions. The SPAN Study includes a diverse sample of participants; approximately two thirds are white and one third are black.  Their data reflect the physical health disparities that would be expected based on the existing literature.  Investigators working with SPAN data are now exploring psychosocial and biological variables that may help us understand the origins and maintenance of these disparities.

    The SPAN Study has also become interested in the empirical investigation of mechanisms that may be responsible for the fact that health outcomes and racial health disparities are perpetuated across generations. More specifically, we are studying ways in which stress may perpetuate adverse mental and physical health outcomes as well as racial health disparities across three generations. This aspect of our research is being done in collaboration with affiliated labs directed by Ryan Bogdan, Joshua Jackson, and Darrell Hudson (at Washington University) and Jennifer Tackett (at Northwestern University).

    Selected Publications

    Cruitt, P.J., Hill, P.L., & Oltmanns, T.F. (in press). Personality pathology predicts increased informant-reported, but not performance-based, cognitive decline: Findings from two samples. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment.


    Shields, A.N., Oltmanns, T.O., Boudreaux, M.J., Paul, S.E., Bogdan, R., & Tackett, J.L. (in press). The impact of personality pathology two generations later: Evidence from the St. Louis Personality and Intergenerational Network study. Clinical Psychological Science.


    McClendon, J., Bogdan, R., Jackson, J.J., & Oltmanns, T.F. (in press). Mechanisms of black-white disparities in health among older adults: Examining discrimination and personality. Journal of Health Psychology.


    Paul, S.E., Boudreaux, M.J., Tackett, J.L., Oltmanns, T.F., Bogdan, R. (in press). Borderline personality pathology and the intergenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment. Development and Psychopathology.


    Oltmanns, J.R., Jackson, J.J., & Oltmanns, T.F. (2020). Personality change: Longitudinal self-other agreement and convergence with retrospective-reports. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118, 1065-1079.

    Boudreaux, M.J., South, S.C., & Oltmanns, T.F. (2019). Symptom-level analysis of DSM-IV/DSM-5 personality pathology in later life: Hierarchical structure and predictive validity across self- and informant ratings. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128, 365-384.


    McClendon, J., Bogdan, R., Jackson, J., & Oltmanns, T.F. (2019). Trajectories of racial and gender health disparities during later midlife: Connections to personality. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 25, 359-370.


    Conway, C., Boudreaux, M. & Oltmanns, T.F. (2018). Dynamic associations between borderline personality disorder and stressful life events over five years in older adults. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 9, 521-529.

    Carlson, E.N., & Oltmanns, T.F. (2018). Is it adaptive for people with personality problems to know how their romantic partner perceives them? The effect of meta-accuracy on romantic relationship qualityJournal of Personality Disorders, 32, 374-391.