A Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology Can Transform Mental Health Research

Christopher C. Conway, Miriam K. Forbes, Kelsie T. Forbush, Eiko I. Fried, Michael N. Hallquist, Roman Kotov, Stephanie N. Mullins-Sweatt, Alexander J. Shackman, Andrew E. Skodol, Susan C. South, Matthew Sunderland, Monika A. Waszczuk, David H. Zald, Mohammad H. Afzali, Marina A. Bornovalova, Natacha Carragher, Anna R. Docherty, Katherine G. Jonas, Robert F. Krueger, Praveetha PatalayAaron L. Pincus, Jennifer L. Tackett, Ulrich Reininghaus, Irwin D. Waldman, Aidan G.C. Wright, Johannes Zimmermann, Bo Bach, R. Michael Bagby, Michael Chmielewski, David C. Cicero, Lee Anna Clark, Tim Dalgleish, Colin G. DeYoung, Christopher J. Hopwood, Masha Y. Ivanova, Robert D. Latzman, Christopher J. Patrick, Camilo J. Ruggero, Douglas B. Samuel, David Watson, Nicholas R. Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


For more than a century, research on psychopathology has focused on categorical diagnoses. Although this work has produced major discoveries, growing evidence points to the superiority of a dimensional approach to the science of mental illness. Here we outline one such dimensional system—the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP)—that is based on empirical patterns of co-occurrence among psychological symptoms. We highlight key ways in which this framework can advance mental-health research, and we provide some heuristics for using HiTOP to test theories of psychopathology. We then review emerging evidence that supports the value of a hierarchical, dimensional model of mental illness across diverse research areas in psychological science. These new data suggest that the HiTOP system has the potential to accelerate and improve research on mental-health problems as well as efforts to more effectively assess, prevent, and treat mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages18
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • DSM
  • HiTOP
  • Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology
  • ICD
  • RDoC
  • individual differences
  • mental illness
  • nosology
  • transdiagnostic


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