On Definition and Description in Psychopathology: Reply to Widiger et al. (2023)

Aidan G.C. Wright, Whitney R. Ringwald, Christopher J. Hopwood, Aaron L. Pincus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We reply to Wright et al.’s (2023) commentary and suggestion that personality trait models would be the preferred way to reconfigure the personality disorders (PDs). Though we agree that personality trait models are powerful descriptive tools, we highlight that they lack definitional or explanatory power, and that is why they have not been able to define or distinguish what PDs are (Hopwood, 2018; Mõttus et al., 2020; Pincus, 2011). Scientific models must do more than describe; they must define. This is why we propose a specific interpersonal model, contemporary integrative interpersonal theory, and why a generic interpersonal model has been formally adopted in psychiatric classification (e.g., International Classification of Diseases; 11th ed.; World Health Organization, 2019) but traits remain optional adjunct descriptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-717
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology

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