A snark or a boojum? Exploring multitaxonomic possibilities and building on Widiger's commentary

Thomas M. Achenbach, Amit Bernstein, Levent Dumenci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this reply to Widiger (2005/this issue), we make the following points: (a) Multiple taxonomic strategies should be considered for psychopathology; (b) Achenbach, Bernstein, and Dumenci (2005/this issue) illustrated a top-down, expert-judgment strategy and a bottom-up, statistical strategy for taxonomically organizing 123 problem items; (c) some items had counterparts in research with children, adolescents, and young adults; (d) all items were validated for ages 18 to 59 and many for ages 60 to 98; (e) correlations between DSM-oriented scales and statistically based syndromes were not used to validate the syndromes; (f) the top-down and bottom-up strategies both yielded normed, quantitative scales and categorical cut points; (g) multiple taxonomic approaches can help to avoid reifying categories and labels; and (h) diverse methods for operationalizing patterns of problems should be explored to advance science and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-69
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Personality Assessment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was supported by the Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families, and NIMH Grant MH064474. We thank James Hudziak, Leslie Rescorla, and David Rettew for their helpful comments.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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