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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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149. Personality Pathology: Three Approaches to Conceptualization and Measurement

Personality pathology may be conceptualized and measured in distinct ways. One approach is the traditional DSM-system model, wherein an individual is assessed on features of 10 distinct personality disorder categories. Another approach is via the dimensional model set forth in the Alternative Model for Personality Disorders in DSM-5, in which personality pathology comprises “Criterion A” (impairment in self and interpersonal functioning) plus “Criterion B” (maladaptive trait elevations). A third approach considers Kernberg’s (1967, 1975) theory on personality pathology (“borderline personality organization”), in which the defining features of personality disorder are prominent identity diffusion and use of primitive defenses (e.g., splitting). In an exploratory fashion, the current study investigated these aforementioned three approaches to conceptualization and measurement of personality pathology in a single model using a large sample (N = 305). Confirmatory and exploratory factor analysis was used to examine relations between the three measurement approaches. Error term covariances between indicators were hypothesized a priori. The final model indicated acceptable fit. Importantly, results indicated all three personality pathology measurement approaches were uniformly strongly correlated with each other (r-values = .84-.90). Implications are discussed, particularly regarding the role of Criterion A in personality pathology.

Alexandra Vizgaitis
State University of New York at Binghamton

Mark Lenzenweger
State University of New York at Binghamton; Weill Cornell Medical College


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