The development of preliminary HiTOP internalizing spectrum scales

David Watson*, Miriam K. Forbes, Holly F. Levin-Aspenson, Camilo J. Ruggero, Yuliya Kotelnikova, Shereen Khoo, R. Michael Bagby, Matthew Sunderland, Praveetha Patalay, Roman Kotov

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    As part of a broader project to create a comprehensive self-report measure for the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology consortium, we developed preliminary scales to assess internalizing symptoms. The item pool was created in four steps: (a) clarifying the range of content to be assessed, (b) identifying target constructs to guide item writing, (c) developing formal definitions for each construct, and (d) writing multiple items for each construct. This yielded 430 items assessing 57 target constructs. Responses from a heterogeneous scale development sample (N = 1,870) were subjected to item-level factor analyses based on polychoric correlations. This resulted in 39 scales representing a total of 213 items. The psychometric properties of these scales replicated well across the development sample and an independent validation sample (N = 496 adults). Internal consistency analyses established that most scales assess relatively narrow forms of psychopathology. Structural analyses demonstrated the presence of a strong general factor. Additional analyses of the 35 nonsexual dysfunction scales revealed a replicable four-factor structure with dimensions we labeled Distress, Fear, Body Dysmorphia, and Mania. A final set of analyses established that the internalizing scales varied widely—and consistently—in the strength of their associations with neuroticism and extraversion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17–33
    Number of pages17
    Issue number1
    Early online date2 Apr 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


    • internalizing psychopathology
    • mania
    • obsessive–compulsive and related disorders
    • sexual dysfunction
    • scale construction
    • factor analysis
    • discriminant validity


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