Basic traits predict the prevalence of personality disorder across the life span: the example of psychopathy.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Personality disorders (PDs) may be better understood in terms of dimensions of general personality functioning rather than as discrete categorical conditions. Personality-trait descriptions of PDs are robust across methods and settings, and PD assessments based on trait measures show good construct validity. The study reported here extends research showing that basic traits (e.g., impulsiveness, warmth, straightforwardness, modesty, and deliberation) can re-create the epidemiological characteristics associated with PDs. Specifically, we used normative changes in absolute trait levels to simulate age-related differences in the prevalence of psychopathy in a forensic setting. Results demonstrated that trait information predicts the rate of decline for psychopathy over the life span; discriminates the decline of psychopathy from that of a similar disorder, antisocial PD; and accurately predicts the differential decline of subfactors of psychopathy. These findings suggest that basic traits provide a parsimonious account of PD prevalence across the life span.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Vachon, DD; Lynam, DR; Widiger, TA; Miller, JD; McCrae, RR; Costa, PT

Published Date

  • May 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 698 - 705

PubMed ID

  • 23528790

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797612460249


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States