Maladaptive personality traits and psychological distress in adolescence

Research on personality in adolescence underlined the importance of adopting a dimensional approach to personality pathology rather than a categorical one. In this regard, the association between maladaptive versions of personality traits and pathological outcomes has been studied, neglecting the study of the severity of personality functioning. The aim of the current study is to investigate the interactions between maladaptive personality traits as conceptualized in DSM-5 Alternative Model for Personality Disorders and personality functioning in a large sample of non-clinical adolescents. Maladaptive personality traits, severity of personality functioning and psychological distress were evaluated in 562 adolescents (62.5% females, M = 16.24, SD = 1.69) recruited from middle and secondary schools in Northern Italy. Results showed that internalizing maladaptive personality traits and psychoticism were associated with psychological distress, whilst externalizing traits were not. Moreover, dimensions of personality functioning (self and interpersonal related) moderated the strength of these associations. These findings suggest the importance of taking into account the level of personality functioning in order to deeper understand the association between maladaptive personality traits and psychological distress. In particular, our results indicate that internalizing features might be highly influenced by personality dimensions in adolescence.

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