Pathology Versus Statistical Infrequency: Potential Sources of Gender Bias in Personality Disorder Criteria

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The antisocial, narcissistic, dependent, histrionic, and borderline personality disorders often obtain differential sex prevalence rates. One explanation has been that the diagnostic criteria for these personality disorders have different gender implications for maladaptivity (e.g., perhaps the dependent personality disorder diagnostic criteria are considered by clinicians to be more pathological for women than for men). This hypothesis was explored in two studies that obtained judgments by professional clinicians of the maladaptivity and statistical infrequency of personality disorder diagnostic criteria. Significant differences across gender were obtained for the frequency of diagnostic criteria but not for their maladaptivity. The personality disorder diagnostic criteria appear to be gender neutral with respect to their implications for maladaptivity.

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