Affect, behavior, and cognition in personality and functioning: An item-content approach to clarifying empirical overlap.

The alternative model of personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), Section III, “Emerging Measures and Models,” includes both personality dysfunction and pathological-range traits. However, the nature of personality dysfunction and its relation to pathological-range traits needs further explication. In existing measures, the personality constructs of traits and functioning are highly overlapping. For example, a joint factor analysis of a large set of such measures found 5 factors, 2 of which were composed of both trait and functioning scales (Clark & Ro, 2014); however, the basis for this comingling remains unclear. In this research, we explored whether the comingling was at least partly due to similarity in the scales’ item content. Specifically, we examined the affective, behavioral, and cognitive (ABC) composition of 212 items, each of which was rated by subsets of 7 judges. Results indicated that personality trait and functioning scales that load on a common factor have ABC profiles that are similar to each other but distinct from those of scales loading on other factors. These results suggest that combined trait-and-functioning factors emerge partly because of similarities in their scales’ item content, despite the fact that the constructs they were intended to assess are theoretically distinct. Thus, ABC profiles may represent basic characteristics of empirical trait-and-functioning factors, suggesting that our conceptualization and/or measurement of these constructs need revision. Drawing from classic trait theory, we suggest that traits and functioning may be complementary rather than distinct. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)