Structures of Personality and Their Relevance to Psychopathology

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Trait concepts are used extensively in psychopathology research, but much of this research has failed to consider recent advances in the dimensional structure of personality. Many investigators have discounted the importance of this structural research, arguing that (a) little progress has been made in this area, (b) structural models have little direct relevance for psychopathology research, and (c) the principal methodological tool of structural research—factor analysis—is too subjective to yield psychologically meaningful results. We dispute each of these objections. Specifically, we offer an integrative hierarchical model—composed of four higher order traits—that is congruent with each of the major structural subtraditions within personality. We also discuss the implications of this integrative scheme for basic trait research, for the conceptualization and assessment of psychopathology, and for the etiology of disorder.

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