Progress in achieving quantitative classification of psychopathology

Robert F. Krueger, Roman Kotov, David Watson, Miriam K. Forbes, Nicholas R. Eaton, Camilo J. Ruggero, Leonard J. Simms, Thomas A. Widiger, Thomas M. Achenbach, Bo Bach, R. Michael Bagby, Marina A. Bornovalova, William T. Carpenter, Michael Chmielewski, David C. Cicero, Lee Anna Clark, Christopher Conway, Barbara DeClercq, Colin G. DeYoung, Anna R. DochertyLaura E. Drislane, Michael B. First, Kelsie T. Forbush, Michael Hallquist, John D. Haltigan, Christopher J. Hopwood, Masha Y. Ivanova, Katherine G. Jonas, Robert D. Latzman, Kristian E. Markon, Joshua D. Miller, Leslie C. Morey, Stephanie N. Mullins-Sweatt, Johan Ormel, Praveetha Patalay, Christopher J. Patrick, Aaron L. Pincus, Darrel A. Regier, Ulrich Reininghaus, Leslie A. Rescorla, Douglas B. Samuel, Martin Sellbom, Alexander J. Shackman, Andrew Skodol, Tim Slade, Susan C. South, Matthew Sunderland, Jennifer L. Tackett, Noah C. Venables, Irwin D. Waldman, Monika A. Waszczuk, Mark H. Waugh, Aidan G.C. Wright, David H. Zald, Johannes Zimmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

317 Scopus citations


Shortcomings of approaches to classifying psychopathology based on expert consensus have given rise to contemporary efforts to classify psychopathology quantitatively. In this paper, we review progress in achieving a quantitative and empirical classification of psychopathology. A substantial empirical literature indicates that psychopathology is generally more dimensional than categorical. When the discreteness versus continuity of psychopathology is treated as a research question, as opposed to being decided as a matter of tradition, the evidence clearly supports the hypothesis of continuity. In addition, a related body of literature shows how psychopathology dimensions can be arranged in a hierarchy, ranging from very broad “spectrum level” dimensions, to specific and narrow clusters of symptoms. In this way, a quantitative approach solves the “problem of comorbidity” by explicitly modeling patterns of co-occurrence among signs and symptoms within a detailed and variegated hierarchy of dimensional concepts with direct clinical utility. Indeed, extensive evidence pertaining to the dimensional and hierarchical structure of psychopathology has led to the formation of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) Consortium. This is a group of 70 investigators working together to study empirical classification of psychopathology. In this paper, we describe the aims and current foci of the HiTOP Consortium. These aims pertain to continued research on the empirical organization of psychopathology; the connection between personality and psychopathology; the utility of empirically based psychopathology constructs in both research and the clinic; and the development of novel and comprehensive models and corresponding assessment instruments for psychopathology constructs derived from an empirical approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-293
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R.F. Krueger is supported by the US National Institutes of Health, NIH (R01AG053217, U19AG051 426) and the Templeton Foundation; A.J. Shackman by the US NIH (DA040717 and MH107444) and the University of Maryland, College Park; A. Wright by the US National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH (L30MH101760); N.C. Venables by the US National Institute of Drug Abuse (T320A037183); U. Reinin-ghaus by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (451-13-022). The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the funding sources.


  • DSM
  • Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology
  • ICD
  • Psychopathology
  • RDoC
  • classification
  • clinical utility
  • dimensions
  • mental disorder
  • nosology
  • personality


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