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Behav Res Ther. 2002 May;40(5):485-99.

Toward a dimensional and psychometrically-informed approach to conceptualizing psychopathology.

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Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455-0344, USA.


Most modern research on psychopathology is framed by the categorical model of mental disorders embodied in the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Nevertheless, the categorical model of the DSM is incompatible with robust empirical observations about psychopathological variation, such as the tendency for multiple, putatively distinct mental disorders to occur in the same persons. The goal of this invited essay is to outline a potential alternative to the DSM's categorical approach: a dimensional and psychometrically-informed approach to conceptualizing and studying psychopathology. We discuss the advantages of the dimensional approach, some modern statistical technologies that can be recruited in the service of the dimensional approach, and ways of integrating the dimensional approach with a behavioral approach to psychopathology assessment and research.

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