Dimensional models of personality: A framework for systematic clinical assessment

Gerald Matthews, Donald H. Saklofske, Paul T. Costa, Lan J. Deary, Moshe Zeidner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Personality research has made considerable progress in developing dimensional models. This article reviews the application of these trait models to clinical theory and practice. Assessment of traits is useful for understanding the individual client, for diagnosis and therapy, and for tailoring the clinical interview to the needs of the patient. Dimensional models have been applied to several areas of pathology. Neuroticism and a variety of other traits are implicated in subclinical stress reactions. At the process level, the effects of traits such as neuroticism may be mediated by maladaptive coping strategies. Traits such as neuroticism may also have a causal effect on more severe mood and anxiety disorders, although it is likely that there are reciprocal linkages between personality and pathology. As with subclinical stress, traits may influence depression and anxiety through abnormality of cognitive processes, the clinical significance of which should be assessed in the light of the individual's trait characteristics. A further area of application is personality disorder: Dimensional models capture and clarify the principal clinical features of conditions such as schizoid and antisocial disorders. It is concluded that the dimensional approach provides a framework for the systematic understanding of clinical expressions of abnormality in personality and their implications for diagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-49
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychological Assessment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Clinical psychology
  • Personality
  • Psychotherapy
  • Traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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