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J Pers Disord. 2015 Aug;29(4):526-46. doi: 10.1521/pedi.2015.29.4.526.

A Lot Can Happen in a Few Minutes: Examining Dynamic Patterns Within an Interaction to Illuminate the Interpersonal Nature of Personality Disorders.

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Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


Although problematic interpersonal tendencies have often been characterized as a traitlike excess of a particular interpersonal style, the interpersonal nature of personality disorders may have more to do with patterns of variability in interpersonal behavior and the relation of this variability to the varying behavior of interaction partners. Indeed, problematic interpersonal tendencies may often be evident as patterns within even one interaction. A useful methodology for examining moment-to-moment patterns within the course of an interaction is the computer joystick technique. To illustrate the potential of this new approach for studying problematic interpersonal patterns, the authors provide joystick-based analyses of the videoed session between Dr. Donald Meichenbaum and the client, Richard (Shostrom, 1986a). The authors show how to examine the association between concurrent levels of dominance and affiliation within a person, patterns of covariation between partners, and the moderation of such entrainment patterns. They also discuss how these indices could illuminate disordered interpersonal patterns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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