Informing the continuity controversy: A taxometric analysis of depression

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


Researchers and practitioners have long debated the structural nature of mental disorders. Until recently, arguments favoring categorical or dimensional conceptualizations have been based primarily on theoretical speculation and indirect empirical evidence. Within the depression literature, methodological limitations of past studies have hindered their capacity to inform this important controversy. Two studies were conducted using MAXCOV and MAMBAC, taxometric procedures expressly designed to assess the underlying structure of a psychological construct. Analyses were performed in large clinical samples with high base rates of major depression and a broad range of depressive symptom severity. Results of both studies, drawing on 3 widely used measures of depression, corroborated the dimensionality of depression. Implications for the conceptualization, investigation, and assessment of depression are discussed.