Taxometric Methods and the Classification and Comorbidity of Mental Disorders: Methodological and Conceptual Considerations


Address correspondence to Timothy A. Brown, Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders, Boston University, 648 Beacon Street, 6th floor, Boston, MA 02215-2013.


Taxometric methods have become increasingly popular in research on the structure of psychopathology. The majority of this research has entailed study of a single psychopathological construct that differentiates a conjectured taxon group (e.g., persons with the target disorder or vulnerability) from a complement group (e.g., normal controls, persons with disorders other than the target condition). Although indicator and sample selection are important in these endeavors, these issues are more critical to the extension of taxometrics to the study of comorbidity (simultaneous taxometric evaluation of multiple psychopathological constructs). Selected methodological and conceptual issues in the application of taxometrics to the understanding of comorbidity are discussed, as well as the implications of taxometric and comorbidity research on the categorical versus dimensional classification of mental disorders.