Comparing the utility of DSM-5 Section II and III antisocial personality disorder diagnostic approaches for capturing psychopathic traits. Academic Article uri icon

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  • The current study compares the 2 diagnostic approaches (Section II vs. Section III) included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) for diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) in terms of their relations with psychopathic traits and externalizing behaviors (EBs). The Section III approach to ASPD, which is more explicitly trait-based than the Section II approach, also includes a psychopathy specifier (PS) that was created with the goal of making the diagnosis of ASPD more congruent with psychopathy. In a community sample of individuals currently receiving mental health treatment (N = 106), ratings of the 2 DSM-5 diagnostic approaches were compared in relation to measures of psychopathy, as well as indices of EBs. Both DSM-5 ASPD approaches were significantly related to the psychopathy scores, although the Section III approach accounted for almost twice the amount of variance when compared with the Section II approach. Relatively little of this predictive advantage, however, was due to the PS, as these traits manifested little evidence of incremental validity in relation to existing psychopathy measures and EBs, with the exception of a measure of fearless dominance. Overall, the DSM-5 Section III diagnostic approach for ASPD is more convergent with the construct of psychopathy, from which ASPD was originally derived. These improvements, however, are due primarily to the new trait-based focus in the Section III ASPD diagnosis rather than the assessment of personality dysfunction or the inclusion of additional "psychopathy-specific" traits.


  • Few, Lauren R
  • Lynam, Donald R
  • Maples, Jessica L
  • MacKillop, James
  • Miller, Joshua D

publication date

  • January 2015