Prediction of Daily Ratings of Psychosocial Functioning: Can Ratings of Personality Disorder Traits and Functioning Be Distinguished?

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Current categorical and dimensional conceptualizations of personality disorder (PD) typically confound pathological PD traits with distress and impairment (dysfunction). The current study examines whether dimensions of personality pathology and psychosocial dysfunction can be psychometrically distinguished. To that end, we collected self-report ratings of personality pathology and dysfunction at baseline, along with daily ratings of dysfunctional behavior, over 10 consecutive days. Correlations revealed substantial overlap between traits and dysfunction measured at baseline. However, follow-up hierarchical regressions revealed that baseline dysfunction ratings incrementally predicted daily dysfunction ratings after accounting for personality trait ratings, suggesting that traits and dysfunction are at least partially differentiable. However, the incremental effects were stronger for some dysfunction domains (i.e., Self-Mastery and Basic Functioning) than for others (Well-Being and Interpersonal), suggesting that maladaptive trait measures are more confounded with the latter types of impairment. These findings suggest that distinguishing maladaptive PD traits from functioning in PD classification systems is likely more difficult than would be expected, a finding that has important implications for the competing Section II and Section III conceptualizations of PD presented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

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