Get access

Ten-Year Rank-Order Stability of Personality Traits and Disorders in a Clinical Sample


  • This study was approved by the CLPS Publication Committee and supported by NIMH grants MH 50837, 50838, 50839, 50840, 50850, 073708, and 080221. We thank C. Emily Durbin for her helpful comments on an earlier draft, and Lee Anna Clark and the University of Minnesota Press for their permission to reprint reliability estimates from the SNAP manual.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Christopher J. Hopwood, Psychology Department, Michigan State University Psychological Clinic, Psychology Building, 316 Physics-Room 107A, East Lansing, MI 48824. Email:



This study compares the 10-year retest stability of normal traits, pathological traits, and personality disorder dimensions in a clinical sample.


Ten-year rank-order stability estimates for the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, Schedule for Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality, and Diagnostic Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders were evaluated before and after correcting for test-retest dependability and internal consistency in a clinical sample (N = 266).


Dependability-corrected stability estimates were generally in the range of.60–.90 for traits and.25–.65 for personality disorders.


The relatively lower stability of personality disorder symptoms may indicate important differences between pathological behaviors and relatively more stable self-attributed traits and imply that a full understanding of personality and personality pathology needs to take both traits and symptoms into account. The five-factor theory distinction between basic tendencies and characteristic adaptations provides a theoretical framework for the separation of traits and disorders in terms of stability in which traits reflect basic tendencies that are stable and pervasive across situations, whereas personality disorder symptoms reflect characteristic maladaptations that are a function of both basic tendencies and environmental dynamics.

Get access to the full text of this article