Person-Centered Approaches in the Study of Personality Disorders

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Existing categorical models of personality disorder diagnoses capture heterogeneous populations in terms of symptom presentation and etiological influences on personality pathology. Though several well-validated alternative dimensional trait models (i.e., variable-centered approaches) of personality disorders have been developed, person-centered approaches can provide important additional information on both the phenotypic expression and etiology of personality pathology. We discuss the utility and necessary attributes of person-centered or subtype models of personality disorders and briefly review statistical approaches and other methodological considerations, drawing specific examples from the psychopathy literature. We conclude by advocating a utilitarian approach whereby person-centered and variable-centered methods complement each other to better understand personality disorders.

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