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

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Interactions between externalizing and internalizing psychopathology in the statistical prediction of negative life outcomes

Recent research has focused on the higher-order spectra of externalizing and internalizing, in turn emphasizing their differential correlates, sequelae, and putative etiologies. More recently, a spate of research has emphasized the covariation between internalizing and externalizing, which has been captured in a broader p-factor. One largely overlooked possibility in the p-factor literature is that externalizing and internalizing combine both in additive and interactive manners, only the former of which is captured in the p-factor. I will present statistical interactions between externalizing and internalizing in the concurrent and prospective prediction of 8 negative life outcomes (e.g., job termination, major financial crisis, relationship dissolution in past year; diagnosed with chronic illness) in three large datasets from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; Ns from 34653 to 43093). Results yield consistent support for cross-sectional interactions, and more limited support for prospective interactions. There was evidence of potentiating interactions, where higher levels of externalizing and internalizing increased risk for negative outcomes (e.g., impairment, chronic illness). There was also evidence of protective effects, where internalizing buffered against externalizing’s risk for negative outcomes (i.e., bankruptcy), and vice versa (i.e., obesity). Implications for the meaning and utility of the p-factor will be discussed.

Ashley Watts
University of Missouri

Miriam Forbes
Macquarie University

Irwin Waldman
Emory University

 


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