Evaluating the criterion validity of hierarchical psychopathology dimensions across models: Familial aggregation and associations with research domain criteria (sub)constructs.

Carter J. Funkhouser*, Kelly A. Correa, Allison M. Letkiewicz, Eugene M. Cozza, Ryne Estabrook, Stewart A. Shankman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) posits that psychopathology is a hierarchy of correlated dimensions. Numerous studies have examined the validity of these dimensions using bifactor models, in which each disorder loads onto both a general and specific factor (e.g., internalizing, externalizing). Although bifactor models tend to fit better than alternative models, concerns have been raised about bifactor model selection, factor reliability, and interpretability. Therefore, we compared the reliability and validity of several higher-order HiTOP dimensions between bifactor and correlated factor models using familial aggregation and associations with Research Domain Criteria (RDoC; sub)constructs as validators. Lifetime psychopathology was assessed in a community sample (N = 504) using dimensional disorder severity scales calculated from semistructured interview data. A series of unidimensional, correlated factor, and bifactor models were fit to model several HiTOP dimensions. A bifactor model with two specific factors (internalizing and disinhibited externalizing) and a correlated two-factor model provided the best fit to the data. HiTOP dimensions had adequate reliability in the correlated factor model, but suboptimal reliability in the bifactor model. The disinhibited externalizing dimension was highly correlated across the two models and was familial, yet largely unrelated to RDoC (sub)constructs in both models. The internalizing dimension in the correlated factor model and the general factor in the bifactor model were highly correlated and had similar validity patterns, suggesting the general factor was largely redundant with the internalizing dimension in the correlated factor model. These findings support concerns about the interpretability of psychopathology dimensions in bifactor models. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) General Scientific Summary—Research examining the validity of transdiagnostic psychopathology dimensions has predominantly used the bifactor model, which may have inadequate reliability and interpretability. The present study compared the validity of the bifactor model to the correlated factor model using familial aggregation and associations with Research Domain Criteria (RDoC; sub) constructs, which are thought to be involved in pathophysiology, as validators. Results supported previously expressed concerns about the reliability, validity, and interpretability of psychopathology factors when estimated using a bifactor model. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-586
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Volume130
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP)
  • bifactor
  • externalizing
  • internalizing
  • p-factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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