Self-pathology, the five-factor model, and bloated specific factors: A cautionary tale.

TitleSelf-pathology, the five-factor model, and bloated specific factors: A cautionary tale.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology

The five-factor model (FFM) is widely regarded as a useful model for the structure of both normal and maladaptive personality traits. However, recent factor analytic studies have suggested that deficits in the sense of self fall outside the FFM. The current study replicates and extends these findings, illustrating that factors can be situated outside a higher-order domain by including a relatively large number of closely related scales, forming what is known as a bloated specific factor. A total of 1,553 participants (M age = 37.8 years, SD = 13.1) were recruited across 3 studies. One measure of self-pathology (including 15 scales) and 2 measures of the FFM were administered, along with 17 measures of anxiousness and 12 measures of social withdrawal/sociability. Across 2 independent samples and 2 different measures of the FFM, deficits in the sense of self separated from neuroticism when all 15 scales of self-pathology were included. However, self-pathology loaded with FFM neuroticism when only a subset of the self-pathology scales was included. This finding was replicated with measures of social withdrawal/sociability, although only partially replicated with measures of anxiousness. Implications of these findings for past and future factor analytic studies of the structure of psychopathology are discussed.

Short TitleJ Abnorm Psychol
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