Contrasting prototypes and dimensions in the classification of personality pathology: Evidence that dimensions, but not prototypes, are robust

N. R. Eaton, R. F. Krueger, S. C. South, L. J. Simms, L. A. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background DSM-5 may mark the shift from a categorical classification of personality pathology to a dimensional system. Although dimensional and categorical conceptualizations of personality pathology are often viewed as competing, it is possible to develop categories (prototypes) from combinations of dimensions. Robust prototypes could bridge dimensions and categories within a single classification system.Method To explore prototype structure and robustness, we used finite mixture modeling to identify empirically derived personality pathology prototypes within a large sample (n=8690) of individuals from four settings (clinical, college, community, and military), assessed using a dimensional measure of normal and abnormal personality traits, the Schedule for Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP). We then examined patterns of convergent and discriminant external validity for prototypes. Finally, we investigated the robustness of the dimensional structure of personality pathology.Results The resulting prototypes were meaningful (externally valid) but non-robust (sample dependent). By contrast, factor analysis revealed that the dimensional structures underlying specific traits were highly robust across samples.Conclusions We interpret these results as further evidence of the fundamentally dimensional nature of an empirically based classification of personality pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1151-1163
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological medicine
Volume41
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Keywords

  • Dimensions
  • personality
  • personality disorder
  • personality pathology
  • prototypes

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