Structure of psychopathology in adolescents and its association with high-risk personality traits

Samantha J. Lynch*, Matthew Sunderland, Miriam K. Forbes, Maree Teesson, Nicola C. Newton, Cath Chapman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


The present study examined high-risk personality traits and associations with psychopathology across multiple levels of a hierarchical-dimensional model of psychopathology in a large adolescent, general population sample. Confirmatory factor analyses were run using data from two randomized controlled trials of Australian adolescents (N = 8,654, mean age = 13.01 years, 52% female). A higher-order model - comprised of general psychopathology, fear, distress, alcohol use/harms, and conduct/inattention dimensions - was selected based on model fit, reliability, and replicability. Indirect-effects models were estimated to examine the unique associations between high-risk personality traits (anxiety sensitivity, negative thinking, impulsivity, and sensation seeking) and general and specific dimensions and symptoms of psychopathology. All personality traits were positively associated with general psychopathology. After accounting for general psychopathology, anxiety sensitivity was positively associated with fear; negative thinking was positively associated with distress; impulsivity was positively associated with conduct/inattention; and sensation seeking was positively associated with alcohol use/harms and conduct/inattention, and negatively associated with fear. Several significant associations between personality traits and individual symptoms remained after accounting for general and specific psychopathology. These findings contribute to our understanding of the underlying structure of psychopathology among adolescents and have implications for the development of personality-based prevention and early intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379–394
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • adolescents
  • higher-order model
  • personality
  • psychopathology


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