We examined the dispositional component of the obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCRDs) in a large adult sample. Our battery included two hierarchical measures of personality, which allowed us to examine relations with both higher-order domains and lower-order facets of the five-factor model. In addition, our study included multiple indicators of each OCRD, which enabled us to model them as latent factors. Principal factor analyses of these indicators revealed six dimensions: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Hoarding, Excoriation, Body Dissatisfaction, Trichotillomania, and Body Preoccupation. Body Dissatisfaction, OCD, and Hoarding showed the strongest links to personality, with the other symptoms displaying more moderate associations. Neuroticism was the strongest and broadest predictor of the OCRDs at the domain level, exhibiting significant positive relations with every symptom dimension except Body Preoccupation in both bivariate and multivariate analyses. Conscientiousness showed negative associations with Body Dissatisfaction and Hoarding, and was positively related to Body Preoccupation. Finally, openness was negatively linked to OCD at both the bivariate and multivariate level. In comparison to domain-level analyses, the lower-order facets jointly contributed an additional 11.8% (Excoriation) to 17.6% (OCD) of the criterion variance, with a mean increment of 14.2%. Three neuroticism facets—anger, self-consciousness, and impulsiveness—displayed robust positive associations with two or more OCRD symptom factors, but no lower-order trait contributed significantly in every analysis. Overall, our results indicate that—similar to most other forms of psychopathology—OCRD symptoms have a common component of elevated neuroticism.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
A reviewer raised the issue of whether our results were changed by including the non-clinical participants who answered “no” to all three questions. To examine this issue, we reran our analyses including only those individuals who answered “yes” to at least one question. Our findings essentially were unchanged. Most notably, structural analyses revealed the same basic factors as those shown in Table 1; moreover, these factors correlated very similarly with personality. Consequently, we report results here using data from all participants.
Although the NEO-PI-3 and FI-FFM both contain Modesty scales, they correlated only .42 with one another in this sample; therefore, we did not combine them.
In interpreting regression results, we ignore suppressor effects (Watson et al. 2013) in which novel, unexpected associations emerge at the multivariate level (e.g., significant positive correlations become significant negative regression weights). These suppressor effects were not predicted and are difficult to interpret.
Neuroticism also was significantly related to Body Preoccupation in these analyses (β = .35). Given that neuroticism was unrelated to this OCRD factor at the bivariate level (r = .07; see Table 3), however, the meaning of this finding is unclear.
Abramowitz, J. S., & Jacoby, R. J. (2015). Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders: A critical review of the new diagnostic class. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 11, 165–186.
Allen, M. S., Vella, S. A., Swann, C., & Laborde, S. (2018). Personality and the subjective experience of body mass in Australian adults. Journal of Research in Personality, 72, 73–79.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Cash, T. F. (1990). The multidimensional body-self relations questionnaire. Unpublished test manual, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.
Cash, T. F. (2000). The multidimensional body-self relations questionnaire users’ manual. Available from the author at www.body-images.com.
Cash, T. F., Phillips, K. A., Santos, M. T., & Hrabosky, J. I. (2004). Measuring “negative body image”: Validation of the body image disturbance questionnaire in a nonclinical population. Body Image, 1, 363–372.
Chamberlain, S. R., & Odlaug, B. L. (2014). Body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) and personality features. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 1, 27–32.
Cloninger, C. R., Przybeck, T. R., & Svrakic, N. M. (1991). The tridimensional personality questionnaire : U. S. normative data. Psychological Reports, 69, 1047–1057.
Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155–159.
Connelly, B. S., & Ones, D. S. (2010). An other perspective on personality: Meta-analytic integration of observers’ accuracy and predictive validity. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 1092–1122.
Costa Jr., P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO five-factor inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Flessner, C. A., Woods, D. W., Franklin, M. E., Cashin, S. E., Keuthen, N. J., & the Trichotillomania Learning Center-Scientific Advisory Board (TLC-SAB). (2008). The Milwaukee inventory for subtypes of trichotillomania-adult version (MIST-A): Development of an instrument for the assessment of “focused” and “automatic” hair pulling. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 30, 20–30.
Foa, E. B., Huppert, J. D., Leiberg, S., Langner, R., Kichic, R., Hajcak, G., & Salkovskis, P. M. (2002). The obsessive-compulsive inventory: Development and validation of a short version. Psychological Assessment, 14, 485–496.
Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Grisham, J. (2004). Measurement of compulsive hoarding: Saving inventory-revised. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 1163–1182.
Hezel, D. M., & Hooley, J. M. (2014). Creativity, personality, and hoarding behavior. Psychiatry Research, 220, 322–327.
Hopko, D. R., Reas, D. L., Beck, J. G., Stanley, M. A., Wetherell, J. L., Novy, D. M., et al. (2003). Assessing worry in older adults: Confirmatory factor analysis of the Penn State worry questionnaire and psychometric properties of an abbreviated model. Psychological Assessment, 15, 173–183.
Horn, J. L. (1965). A rationale and test for the number of factors in factor analysis. Psychometrika, 30, 179–185.
Johnson, R. E., Rosen, C. C., & Djurdjevic, E. (2011). Assessing the impact of common method variance on higher order multidimensional constructs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 744–761.
Keuthen, N. J., O’Sullivan, R. L., Ricciardi, J. N., Shera, D., Savage, C. R., Borgmann, A. S., et al. (1995). The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Hairpulling scale: 1. Development and factor analyses. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 64, 141–145.
Keuthen, N. J., Wilhelm, S., Deckersbach, T., Engelhard, I. M., Forker, A. E., Baer, L., & Jenike, M. A. (2001). The skin picking scale: Scale construction and psychometric analyses. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 50, 337–341.
Keuthen, N. J., Tung, E. S., Altenburger, E. M., Blais, M. A., Pauls, D. L., & Flessner, C. A. (2015). Trichotillomania and personality traits from the five-factor model. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 37, 317–324.
Keuthen, N. J., Tung, E. S., Tung, M. G., Curley, E. E., & Flessner, C. A. (2016). NEO-FFI personality clusters in trichotillomania. Psychiatry Research, 239, 196–203.
Klein, D. N., Kotov, R., & Bufferd, S. J. (2011). Personality and depression: Explanatory models and review of the evidence. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 269–295.
Kotov, R., Gamez, W., Schmidt, F., & Watson, D. (2010). Linking “big” personality traits to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 768–821.
LaSalle-Ricci, V. H., Arnkoff, D. B., Glass, C. R., Crawley, S. A., Ronquillo, J. G., & Murphy, D. L. (2006). The hoarding dimension of OCD: Psychological comorbidity and the five-factor personality model. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1503–1512.
Lochner, C., Simeon, D., Niehaus, D. J. H., & Stein, D. J. (2002). Trichotillomania and skin-picking: A phenomenological comparison. Depression and Anxiety, 15, 83–86.
McCrae, R. R., Costa Jr., P. T., & Martin, T. A. (2005). The NEO-PI-3: A more readable revised NEO personality inventory. Journal of Personality Assessment, 84, 261–270.
O’Connor, B. P. (2000). SPSS and SAS programs for determining the number of components using parallel analysis and Velicer’s MAP test. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 32, 396–402.
Phillips, K. A. (1996). The broken mirror: Understanding and treating body dysmorphic disorder. New York: Oxford University Press.
Phillips, K. A., & McElroy, S. L. (2000). Personality disorders and traits in patients with body dysmorphic disorder. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 41, 229–236.
Raines, A. M., Oglesby, M. E., Allan, N. P., Short, N. A., & Schmidt, N. B. (2016). Understanding DSM-5 hoarding disorder: A triple vulnerability model. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 79, 120–129.
Rector, N. A., Hood, K., Richter, M. A., & Bagby, R. M. (2002). Obsessive-compulsive disorder and the five-factor model of personality: Distinction and overlap with major depressive disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40, 1205–1219.
Rees, C. S., Anderson, R. A., & Egan, S. J. (2005). Applying the five-factor model of personality to the exploration of the construct of risk-taking in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 34, 31–42.
Reio, T. G., Jr. (2010). The threat of common method variance bias to theory building. Human Resource Development Review, 9, 405–411.
Roberts, A., & Good, E. (2010). Media images and female body dissatisfaction: The moderating effects of the five-factor traits. Eating Behaviors, 11, 211–216.
Rosellini, A. J., & Brown, T. A. (2011). The NEO five-factor inventory: Latent structure and relationships with dimensions of anxiety and depressive disorders in a large clinical sample. Assessment, 18, 27–38.
Samuels, J., Nestadt, G., Bienvenu, O. J., Costa Jr., P. T., Riddle, M. A., Liang, K.-Y., et al. (2000). Personality disorders and normal personality dimensions in obsessive-compulsive disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 177, 457–462.
Samuels, J. F., Bienvenu, O. J., Pinto, A., Murphy, D. L., Piacentini, J., Rauch, S. L., et al. (2008). Sex-specific correlates of hoarding in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46, 1040–1046.
Schmidt, F. L., Le, H., & Ilies, R. (2003). Beyond alpha: An empirical examination of the effects of different sources of measurement error on reliability estimates for measures of individual differences constructs. Psychological Methods, 8, 206–224.
Singareddy, R., Moin, A., Spurlock, L., Merritt-Davis, O., & Uhde, T. W. (2003). Skin picking and sleep disturbances: Relationship to anxiety and need for research. Depression and Anxiety, 18, 228–232.
Snorrason, Í., Smári, J., & Ólafsson, R. P. (2011). Motor inhibition, reflection impulsivity, and trait impulsivity in pathological skin picking. Behavior Therapy, 42, 521–532.
Soto, C. J., & John, O. P. (2017). The next big five inventory (BFI-2): Developing and assessing a hierarchical model with 15 facets to enhance bandwidth, fidelity, and predictive power. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113, 117–143.
Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., Lushene, R., Vagg, P. R., & Jacobs, G. A. (1983). Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory (form Y). Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Stanton, K., Rozek, D. C., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Ellickson-Larew, S., & Watson, D. (2016). A transdiagnostic approach to examining the incremental predictive power of emotion regulation and basic personality dimensions. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125, 960–975.
Stanton, K., Daly, E. J., Stasik, S. M., Ellickson-Larew, S. A., Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (2017). An integrative analysis of the narcissistic personality inventory and the hypomanic personality scale: Implications for construct validity. Assessment, 24, 695–711.
Stein, D. J., Craske, M. A., Friedman, M. J., & Phillips, K. A. (2014). Anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, trauma- and stressor-related disorders, and dissociative disorders in DSM-5. American Journal of Psychiatry, 171, 611–613.
Tok, S., Tatar, A., & Morali, S. L. (2010). Relationship between dimensions of the five factor personality model, body image satisfaction, and social physique anxiety in college students. Studia Psychologica, 52, 59–66.
Trull, T. J., Widiger, T. A., & Burr, R. (2001). A structured interview for the assessement of the five-factor model of personality: Facet-level relations to the Axis II personality disorders. Journal of Personality, 69, 175–198.
Van Ameringen, M., Patterson, B., & Simpson, W. (2014). DSM-5 obsessive-compulsive and related disorders: Clinical implications of new criteria. Depression and Anxiety, 31, 487–493.
Velicer, W. F. (1976). Determining the number of components from the matrix of partial correlations. Psychometrika, 41, 321–327.
Walther, M. R., Flessner, C. A., Conelea, C. A., & Woods, D. W. (2009). The Milwaukee inventory for the dimensions of adult skin picking (MIDAS): Initial development and psychometric properties. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 40, 127–135.
Watson, D. (2000). The body dysmorphic questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.
Watson, D., & Naragon-Gainey, K. (2014). Personality, emotions, and the emotional disorders. Clinical Psychological Science, 2, 422–442.
Watson, D., & Wu, K. D. (2005). Development and validation of the schedule of compulsions, obsessions, and pathological impulses (SCOPI). Assessment, 12, 50–65.
Watson, D., Gamez, W., & Simms, L. J. (2005). Basic dimensions of temperament and their relation to anxiety and depression: A symptom-based perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 39, 46–66.
Watson, D., O’Hara, M. W., Naragon-Gainey, K., Koffel, E., Chmielewski, M., Kotov, R., et al. (2012). Development and validation of new anxiety and bipolar symptom scales for an expanded version of the IDAS (the IDAS-II). Assessment, 19, 399–420.
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., Chmielewski, M., & Kotov, R. (2013). The value of suppressor effects in explicating the construct validity of symptom measures. Psychological Assessment, 25, 929–941.
Watson, D., Stasik, M. R., Chmielewski, M., & Naragon-Gainey, K. (2015). Development and validation of the temperament and affectivity inventory (TAI). Assessment, 22, 540–560.
Watson, D., Stasik, S. M., Ellickson-Larew, S., & Stanton, K. (2015a). Explicating the psychopathological correlates of anomalous sleep experiences. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2, 57–78.
Watson, D., Stasik, S. M., Ellickson-Larew, S., & Stanton, K. (2015b). Extraversion and psychopathology: A facet-level analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124, 432–446.
Watson, D., Nus, E., & Wu, K. D. (2017, June 5). Development and validation of the faceted inventory of the five-factor model (FI-FFM). Assessment. Advance online publication.
We thank Lee Anna Clark, Patrick Cruitt, Mark Godding, Haley Heibel, Ana Hernandez, Brittany Katz, Katie Kraemer, Mallory Meter, John Souter, Nadia Suzuki, and Elizabeth Yahiro for their help in the preparation of this manuscript.
Conflict of Interest
David Watson, Sara M. Stasik-O'Brien, Stephanie Ellickson-Larew, Kasey Stanton declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in the reported study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
All of the research reported here was approved by the University of Notre Dame Institutional Review Board.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.
About this article
Cite this article
Watson, D., Stasik-O’Brien, S.M., Ellickson-Larew, S. et al. Explicating the Dispositional Basis of the OCRDs: a Hierarchical Perspective. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 40, 497–513 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-018-9667-5