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

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The scope and structure of internalizing

The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) consortium currently is developing a comprehensive self-report measure of psychopathology. We present results that were collected for the internalizing portion of this project. Specifically, we use data from two crowdsourcing samples (Qualtrics, N = 328; Prolific, N = 318) and one student sample (N = 522); all participants completed 395 items that were designed to assess 52 target constructs. These constructs included established markers of distress (e.g., symptoms of major depression, generalized anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder) and fear (e.g., symptoms of social anxiety, agoraphobia, specific phobia), as well as constructs whose placement within internalizing is either uncertain (e.g., symptoms of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder) or unknown (e.g., excoriation, trichotillomania). Structural analyses revealed that most—but not all—symptoms were strong markers of a general internalizing factor. Moreover, three subfactors were broadly replicable across samples; we labeled them Distress (e.g., depressed mood, worthlessness, worry, emotional lability), Fear (e.g., situational phobia, claustrophobia, cleaning, animal phobia), and Behavioral Activation (e.g., grandiosity, euphoria). Follow-up analyses indicated that individual differences in neuroticism/negative emotionality were strongly related to Distress, moderately related to Fear, and largely unrelated to Behavioral Activation. These findings suggest that symptoms of distress define the core of internalizing.

David Watson
University of Notre Dame

Holly Levin-Aspenson
University of Notre Dame

Shereen Khoo
University of Notre Dame

Yuliya Kotelnikova
University of Notre Dame


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