Dysfunctional Beliefs and Personality Traits

  • Wilson McDermutEmail author
  • Gerald Pantoja
  • Yosef Amrami


This study examined the pattern of associations between dimensions of personality dysfunction, dysfunctional beliefs, and adverse emotional outcomes. We recruited two samples of undergraduates (n = 167; n = 104). Dysfunctional beliefs showed positive correlations with pathological personality dimensions Negative Emotionality, Introversion, and Psychoticism, and negative correlations with Big Five dimensions of Emotional Stability, Conscientiousness, Openness, and Conscientiousness. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that dysfunctional beliefs are predictive of adverse emotional outcomes above and beyond dimensions of personality dysfunction. Dysfunctional beliefs also mediated the relationship between personality traits (Negative Emotionality, Emotional Stability) and important emotional outcomes like depression, anxiety, anger, demoralization and cynicism. The implication of the mediation analyses is that dimensions of personality (i.e., Negative Emotionality, Emotional Stability) have their effect on a variety of affective outcomes by operating through the mechanism of dysfunctional beliefs.


Dysfunctional beliefs Irrational beliefs Personality traits Personality pathology Personality dysfunction 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual—Text revision (DSM-IV-TR) (4th ed., revised). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Anastasi, A., & Urbina, S. (1997). Psychological testing (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Arntz, A., Dreessen, L., Schouten, E., & Weertman, A. (2004). Beliefs in personality disorders: A test with the Personality Disorder Belief Questionnaire. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 1215–1225. Scholar
  5. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beck, A. T. (1976). Cognitive therapy for emotional disorders. New York, NY: International University.Google Scholar
  7. Beck, J. S. (2005). Cognitive therapy for challenging problems: What to do when the Basics Don’t Work. New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  8. Beck, A. T., Butler, A. C., Brown, G. K., Dahlsgaard, K. K., Newman, C. F., & Beck, J. S. (2001). Dysfunctional beliefs discriminate personality disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39(10), 1213–1225. Scholar
  9. Beck, A. T., Davis, D. D., & Freeman, A. (2015). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Beck, A. T., & Haigh, E. A. P. (2014). Advances in cognitive theory and therapy: The generic cognitive model. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 10, 1–24. Scholar
  11. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  12. Beevers, C. G., Strong, D. R., Bjorn, M., Pilkonis, P. A., & Miller, I. W. (2007). Efficiently assessing negative cognition in depression: An item response theory analysis of the dysfunctional attitude scale. Psychological Assessment, 19(2), 199–209. Scholar
  13. Ben-Porath, Y. S., & Tellegen, A. (2008). MMPI–2–RF: Manual for administration, scoring, and interpretation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bhar, S. S., Beck, A. T., & Butler, A. C. (2012). Beliefs and personality disorders: An overview of the personality beliefs questionnaire. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(1), 88–100. Scholar
  15. Bieling, P. J., Beck, A. T., & Brown, G. K. (2000). The sociotropy-autonomy scale: Structure and implications. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 24(6), 763–780. Scholar
  16. Butcher, J. N., Graham, J. R., Ben-Porath, Y. S., Tellegen, A., Dahlstrom, W. G., & Kaemmer, B. (2001). MMPI-2: Manual for administration and scoring (Rev ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  17. Butler, A. C., Beck, A. T., & Cohen, L. H. (2007). The personality belief questionnaire-short form: Development and preliminary findings. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31, 357–370. Scholar
  18. de Winter, J. C. F., & Dodou, D. (2012). Factor recovery by principal factor analysis as a function of factor pattern and sample size. Journal of Applied Statistics, 39(4), 695–710. Scholar
  19. Derogatis, L. R. (1983). The SCL-90 R: Administration, scoring, and procedures manual II. Baltimore, MD: Clinical Psychometric Research.Google Scholar
  20. Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, R., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75. Scholar
  21. DiGiuseppe, R., & Tafrate, R. C. (2004). Anger disorders scale: Manual. Toronto, ON: Multi Health Systems, Inc.Google Scholar
  22. Donnellan, M. B., Oswald, F. L., Baird, B. M., & Lucas, R. E. (2006). The mini-IPIP scales: Tiny-yet-effective measures of the Big Five Factors of Personality. Psychological Assessment, 18(2), 192–203. Scholar
  23. Ellis, A. (1994). Reason and emotional in psychotherapy: A comprehensive method of treating human disturbance. Revised and updated. New York: Birch Lane Press.Google Scholar
  24. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A., & Buchner, A. (2007). G*Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39(2), 175–191. Scholar
  25. Fournier, J. C., DeRubeis, R. J., & Beck, A. T. (2012). Dysfunctional cognitions in personality disorder: The structure and validity of the Personality Belief Questionnaire. Psychological Medicine, 42, 795–805. Scholar
  26. Goldberg, L. R. (1993). The structure of phenotypic personality traits. American Psychologist, 48, 26–34. Scholar
  27. Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B., Jr. (2003). A very brief measure of the Big-Five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 504–528. Scholar
  28. Harkness, A. R., Finn, J. A., McNulty, J. L., & Shields, S. M. (2012). The personality psychopathology—Five (PSY-5): Recent constructive replication and assessment literature review. Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 432–443. Scholar
  29. Harkness, A. R., McNulty, J. L., Finn, J. A., Reynolds, S. M., Shields, S. M., & Arbisi, P. (2014). The MMPI–2–RF personality psychopathology five (PSY–5–RF) scales: Development and validity research. Journal of Personality Assessment, 96(2), 140–150. Scholar
  30. Hayes, A. F. (2018). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hopwood, C. J., Schade, N., Kreuger, R. F., Wright, A. G. C., & Markon, K. (2013). Connecting DSM-5 personality traits and pathological beliefs: Toward a unifying model. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35, 162–172. Scholar
  32. IBM Corp. Released. (2012). IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 210. Armonk, NY: IBM Corporation.Google Scholar
  33. John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 102–138). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  34. Kreuger, R. F., & Markon, K. E. (2014). The role of the DSM-5 personality trait model in moving toward a quantitative and empirically based approach to classifying personality and psychopathology. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 10, 477–501. Scholar
  35. Krueger, R. F., Derringer, J., Markon, K. E., Watson, D., & Skodol, A. E. (2012). Initial construction of a maladaptive personality trait model and inventory for DSM-5. Psychological Medicine, 42(9), 1879–1890. Scholar
  36. Larstone, R. M., Jang, K. L., Livesley, W. J., Vernon, P. A., & Wolf, H. (2002). The relationship between Eysenck’s P–E–N model of personality, the five factor model of personality, and traits delineating personality dysfunction. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 25–37. Scholar
  37. Ponterotto, J. G., & Ruckdeschel, D. E. (2007). An overview of coefficient alpha and a reliability matrix for estimating adequacy of internal consistency coefficients with psychological research measures. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 105, 997–1014. Scholar
  38. Pretzer, J. L., & Beck, A. T. (1996). A cognitive theory of personality disorders. In J. F. Clarkin & M. F. Lenzenweger (Eds.), Major theories of personality disorder (pp. 36–105). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  39. Samar, S. M., Walton, K. E., & McDermut, W. (2013). Personality traits predict irrational beliefs. Journal of Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy., 31, 231–242. Scholar
  40. Tellegen, A., & Ben-Porath, Y. S. (1992). The new uniform T scores for the MMPI-2: Rationale. Derivation, and Appraisal Psychological Assessment, 4(2), 145–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Trull, T. J., Goodwin, A. H., Schopp, L. H., Hillenbrand, T. L., & Schuster, T. (1993). Psychometric properties of a cognitive measure of personality disorders. Journal of Personality Assessment, 61(3), 536–546. Scholar
  42. Vîslă, A., Flückiger, C., Grosse Holtforth, M., & David, D. (2016). Irrational beliefs and psychological distress: A meta-analysis. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 85(1), 8–15. Scholar
  43. Weissman, A. (1979). Dysfunctional attitude scale: A validation study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
  44. Young, J. E., Klosko, J., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema therapy: A practitioner’s guide. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySt. John’s UniversityQueensUSA

Personalised recommendations