All previous editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have described and assessed personality solely in terms of pathological categories. Nonetheless, there is compelling evidence that normal-range personality traits also provide clinically useful information, emphasizing the importance of thoroughly assessing both adaptive and maladaptive aspects of personality within a clinical context. The proposed inclusion of a dimensional trait model in the upcoming DSM-5 represents an important shift in the understanding of personality pathology and provides an ideal opportunity to integrate the assessment of normal personality into clinical practice. Building upon research conceptualizing personality disorders as maladaptive, extreme variants of general personality traits, it is proposed that both normal and abnormal personality can be assessed within the same dimensional model using bipolar constructs. The inclusion of bipolar traits, such as a continuum ranging from introversion to extraversion, would hold numerous advantages for a dimensional model. These benefits include a strong foundation of existing validity research, comprehensive coverage of personality pathology, and the ability to provide useful information about all individuals. Despite potential complexities, the adoption of bipolar constructs within DSM-5’s dimensional model presents the greatest opportunity to maximize efficiency, validity, and clinical utility.


This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article submitted for consideration in the Journal of Personality Assessment, [copyright Taylor & Francis]; Journal of Personality Assessment is available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/00223891.2011.577476.

Date of this Version




Included in

Psychology Commons