Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kurt M. Gehlert; Nathaniel William Nelson


This study had two goals. The first goal was to use empirical methods to identify and explore shared models of mental disorder in a sample of professors of psychology with special expertise in psychopathology. This exploration divided into three research questions: (1) did the study participants, despite differences in how they explicitly conceptualized models of mental disorder, share a common, implicit or explicit, understanding of models of mental disorder; (2) what was the common understanding, specifically, how were the models defined, how were beliefs about mental disorder interrelated so as to develop those models, and how were the models interrelated into a more general conceptual framework about models of mental disorder; and (3), what latent dimensions of judgment best explained the structure of the conceptual framework. The second goal of this study was to introduce and test a method for identifying community-level constructs, i.e. constructs implicit in the normative rules governing meaning and language use within a community. A sample of 26 professors of psychology with special expertise in psychopathology were recruited from universities across the United States using random cluster sampling. The participants completed an online card sort in which they sorted beliefs about mental disorder into models of mental disorder. The results were aggregated and analyzed using a combination of cluster analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling, network analysis, and qualitative data analysis. Eleven models of mental disorder and three latent dimensions of judgment were identified. In addition to identifying the models and dimensions, the study demonstrated that empirical methods can be used to identify community-level constructs. The models of mental disorder that were identified may serve as the starting point for developing measures of models of mental disorder, and the identified latent dimensions provide a framework for understanding the relationship among models and may guide the development of future theories.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.