Interpersonal Perception and Pathological Personality Features: Consistency Across Peer Groups


  • Susan C. South, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia; Thomas F. Oltmanns, Department of Psychology, now at Washington University; Eric Turkheimer, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia.

  • This study was supported by grant MH51187 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors wish to thank Del Paulhus for his assistance with the measures used in this study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas F. Oltmanns, at Department of Psychology, Box 1125, One Brookings Drive, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 63130-4899. E-mail:


Abstract This study investigated the consistency of interpersonal perceptions regarding people who exhibit features of personality disorders. The participants (N=82) were college students who were assessed for features of personality disorders, using both self-report and peer nominations at Time 1. Two years later, participants attended four meetings in groups of 7 to 12 people for a total of 2 hours. Group discussions were designed to encourage interaction and give participants an opportunity to behave in ways that might be expected from people with personality problems. After Meetings 1 and 4, group members ranked their impressions of each other with regard to several personality traits and behavioral attributes. We observed important consistencies between the peer nominations collected at Time 1 and personality rankings made by a different peer group at Time 2. There was considerable convergence between personality disorder features and negative evaluations by others, with participants high in detachment eliciting the most negative reactions from peers in the lab.