Affective Dynamics Across Internalizing and Externalizing Dimensions of Psychopathology

Lori N. Scott, Sarah E. Victor, Erin A. Kaufman, Joseph E. Beeney, Amy L. Byrd, Vera Vine, Paul A. Pilkonis, Stephanie D. Stepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Little is known about pathogenic affective processes that cut across diverse mental disorders. We examine how dynamic features of positive and negative affect differ or converge across internalizing and externalizing disorders in a diagnostically diverse urban sample using bivariate dynamic structural equation modeling. One-hundred fifty-six young women completed semistructured clinical interviews and a 21-day ecological momentary assessment protocol with seven assessments of affective states per day. Internalizing and externalizing dimensions of psychopathology were modeled using confirmatory factor analysis of mental disorders. After controlling for externalizing disorders, internalizing disorders were associated with higher negative affective mean intensity, higher negative affective variability (i.e., unique innovation variance), and lower positive affective variability. Conversely, externalizing disorders were associated with less persistent positive affect (i.e., lower inertia) and more variable positive emotionality. Results suggest internalizing and externalizing disorders have distinct affective dynamic signatures, which have implications for development of tailored interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-427
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • affective dynamics
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • externalizing disorders
  • internalizing disorders
  • psychopathology


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