Clarifying Boundary Issues in Psychopathology: The Role of Taxometrics in a Comprehensive Program of Structural Research

John Ruscio, Elizabethtown College
Ayelet Meron Ruscio, Pennsylvania State University


Despite decades of debate, important questions about the boundaries that separate psychological disorder from normality and that distinguish I disorder from another remain largely unanswered. These issues pose empirical questions that may be addressed by assessing the latent structure of psychopathological constructs. Because these constructs are likely to be structurally complex, and no single statistical tool addresses all structural questions, it is proposed in this article that boundary issues be examined through programmatic research grounded in the taxometric method and elaborated by complementary analyses. The authors describe how such a program could delimit the structure of disorders and test competing explanations of diagnostic co-occurrence, emphasizing the potential to enhance the reliability and validity of assessment, maximize the power of research designs, and improve diagnostic classification.