Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Tony R. Young


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a constantly evolving record of the conceptualization of mental problems. With each new edition, researchers seek to come ever closer to defining complex dysfunctional human behaviors as they occur in nature. Significant evidence suggests that the current conceptualization of personality disorders (PDs) as defined in the DSM-5 is not adequately capturing these disorders, leading to inaccurate diagnosis and ineffective treatment outcomes. This evidence has led to the formation of a new diagnostic model of PDs which is outlined in Section III of the DSM-5 under conditions requiring further study. Several measures have been developed to assess general personality dysfunction and dysfunctional personality traits as defined by the new model. Interpersonal dysfunction is suggested to play a substantial role in characterizing PDs, and the interpersonal circumplex provides a framework in which to locate specific interpersonal stressors inherent to abnormal personality.

Triangulating the constructs underlying personality problems with interpersonal dysfunction was the primary purpose of this study, allowing for a thorough investigation of proposed personality constructs and their interpersonal expression. General personality dysfunction, problematic personality traits, and interpersonal dysfunction were measured in a sample of college students and in a clinical sample of individuals in residential substance use treatment. Obtained data were analyzed in order to explore relationships between the constructs and to provide preliminary evidence for the appropriateness of the proposed model of PDs. Overall, results provided support for the theory behind the proposed model and confirmed the majority of hypothesized relationships between maladaptive personality traits, general personality dysfunction, and interpersonal problems.