UBC Theses and Dissertations
Extending interpersonal problems to include the "big five" personality dimensions Pincus, Aaron Lee
Current advances in the science of personality structure were discussed with reference to the utility of assessing dimensions of normal personality for clinical research and psychological treatment. The current debate in the field of clinical personality assessment suggests that the extreme behaviors, attitudes, symptoms, and actions seen in patients in clinical settings may be widely separated from behaviors in the normal range, and hence, current conceptions of normal personality structure may be insufficient to provide useful information. The basic dimensions of normal personality have not been directly related to maladaptive, rigid, and abnormal behavior seen in psychopathology. Based on the construct of interpersonal problems (Horowitz, 1979), it was proposed that two ways personality traits may be expressed rigidly and maladaptively are via chronic behavioral excesses (behaviors a person does too much) and chronic behavioral inhibitions (behaviors a person finds hard to do). Three investigations were conducted to determine if this operationalization of maladaptive behavior would lead to the identification of a taxonomy of personality traits of particular relevance to clinical assessment and treatment. Additionally, specific methodological techniques were used to impose a taxonomic structure on the trait domain, conforming to the Dyadic—Interactional Five-factor Model of personality structure (Pincus & Wiggins, in press; Trapnell & Wiggins, 1990; Wiggins & Pincus, 1992, in press). In the current research, a valid and reliable self— report instrument was derived in a large normal sample, cross—validated on an independent normal sample, and cross— validated on a small psychiatric sample. This instrument extended a recent circumplex modification of Horowitz’ (1979) Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (lIP-C; Alden, Wiggins, & Pincus, 1990) to include the three additional personality dimensions of neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. The final inventory, the IIP-B5, is a 140 item questionnaire that assesses maladaptive trait expression (problems) related to the five basic personality dimensions by assessing a number of lower—order problems facets within each superordinate trait domain. The advantages of the IIP-B5 compared to currently available five—factor model inventories for clinical assessment and research was discussed. The instrument was used to operationalize the five—factor model of personality in a fourth study comparing a competing model of adjustment to the five-factor model of personality. The clinical utility of the IIP-B5 was demonstrated in a brief case presentation of a patient who was seen for intensive group psychotherapy with the author. Results of all studies suggest that a taxonomy of maladaptive personality traits can be subsumed by the five factor model of personality and that a dimensional perspective on abnormal behavior may be a viable alternative to the categorical classification system of the DSM-III. Some structural weaknesses of the IIP—B5 were identified and further improvements and investigations are required.
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