Basic Dimensions Defining Mania Risk: A Structural Approach

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Mania is the core criterion for bipolar disorder, a chronic and severe psychiatric illness centrally associated with positive affective disturbance. Many self-report measures have been created to assess symptoms of, and risk for, mania but there are notable disparities in their length, scope, and content. Thus, the goal of this study was to determine the structure and correlates of a number of widely used “bipolar-relevant” (BR) measures (e.g., Hypomanic Personality Scale, Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale, General Behavior Inventory, Mood Disorder Questionnaire). Data from a community sample (Study 1, N = 329) and a student sample assessed at two time points (Study 2; Ns = 382 and 308, respectively) provided strong evidence that the BR measures were characterized by both (a) a well-defined common dimension when a single factor was extracted, and (b) a clear structure of Emotional Lability and Activated Positive Affect upon extracting two factors. The general factor showed a relatively nonspecific pattern of associations with personality and psychopathology. In contrast, the Emotional Lability factor showed its strongest relations with neuroticism and depressive symptoms, displaying comparatively weaker relations with measures of extraversion and positive emotionality. Conversely, although Activated Positive Affect also associated positively with depressive symptoms and with neuroticism in some instances, its strongest relations were with measures of extraversion and high arousal positive emotionality. These findings suggest that measures defining Emotional Lability seem to assess mood volatility to a greater extent, whereas measures defining the Activated Positive Affect factor capture an intense, high arousal form of positive emotionality.

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