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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology Can Transform Mental Health Research.

  • Author(s): Conway, Christopher C
  • Forbes, Miriam K
  • Forbush, Kelsie T
  • Fried, Eiko I
  • Hallquist, Michael N
  • Kotov, Roman
  • Mullins-Sweatt, Stephanie N
  • Shackman, Alexander J
  • Skodol, Andrew E
  • South, Susan C
  • Sunderland, Matthew
  • Waszczuk, Monika A
  • Zald, David H
  • Afzali, Mohammad H
  • Bornovalova, Marina A
  • Carragher, Natacha
  • Docherty, Anna R
  • Jonas, Katherine G
  • Krueger, Robert F
  • Patalay, Praveetha
  • Pincus, Aaron L
  • Tackett, Jennifer L
  • Reininghaus, Ulrich
  • Waldman, Irwin D
  • Wright, Aidan GC
  • Zimmermann, Johannes
  • Bach, Bo
  • Bagby, R Michael
  • Chmielewski, Michael
  • Cicero, David C
  • Clark, Lee Anna
  • Dalgleish, Tim
  • DeYoung, Colin G
  • Hopwood, Christopher J
  • Ivanova, Masha Y
  • Latzman, Robert D
  • Patrick, Christopher J
  • Ruggero, Camilo J
  • Samuel, Douglas B
  • Watson, David
  • Eaton, Nicholas R
  • et al.

For more than a century, research on psychopathology has focused on categorical diagnoses. Although this work has produced major discoveries, growing evidence points to the superiority of a dimensional approach to the science of mental illness. Here we outline one such dimensional system-the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP)-that is based on empirical patterns of co-occurrence among psychological symptoms. We highlight key ways in which this framework can advance mental-health research, and we provide some heuristics for using HiTOP to test theories of psychopathology. We then review emerging evidence that supports the value of a hierarchical, dimensional model of mental illness across diverse research areas in psychological science. These new data suggest that the HiTOP system has the potential to accelerate and improve research on mental-health problems as well as efforts to more effectively assess, prevent, and treat mental illness.

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