A dimensional perspective on personality disorder hypothesizes that the current diagnostic categories represent maladaptive variants of general personality traits. However, a fundamental foundation of this viewpoint is that dimensional models can adequately account for the pathology currently described by these categories. While most of the personality disorders have well established links to dimensional models that buttress this hypothesis, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) has obtained only inconsistent support. The current study administered multiple measures of 1) conscientiousness-related personality traits, 2) DSM-IV OCPD, and 3) specific components of OCPD (e.g., compulsivity and perfectionism) to a sample of 536 undergraduates who were oversampled for elevated OCPD scores. Six existing measures of conscientiousness-related personality traits converged strongly with each other supporting their assessment of a common trait. These measures of conscientiousness correlated highly with scales assessing specific components of OCPD, but obtained variable relationships with measures of DSM-IV OCPD. More specifically, there were differences within the conscientiousness instruments such that those designed to assess general personality functioning had small to medium relationships with OCPD, but those assessing more maladaptive variants obtained large effect sizes. These findings support the view that OCPD does represent a maladaptive variant of normal-range conscientiousness.
obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, compulsivity, conscientiousness, persistence, achievement
Date of this Version
Samuel, Douglas B. and Widiger, Thomas A., "Conscientiousness and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder" (2011). Department of Psychological Sciences Faculty Publications. Paper 4.