David Watson

Professor Emeritus

Primary Area: Clinical

Research and teaching interests

Structure and assessment of personality, structure and assessment of psychopathology, relations between traits and psychopathology, depression, anxiety, mania, dissociation


Professor Watson is a personality psychologist with expertise in personality and clinical assessment. His work investigates the structure and measurement of personality, affect, and psychopathology, as well as examining how personality traits relate to clinical disorders. He works in a variety of substantive areas within psychopathology, including depression, the anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mania, the personality disorders, and dissociation. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop comprehensive taxonomic models that integrate normal-range and pathological processes into a single overarching scheme. Other areas of personality research examine stability versus change across the life span, mate preferences, and accuracy in person perception. He has published two books and more than 250 articles in the top journals in personality and pathology. He served as an Advisor to the DSM-IV Anxiety Disorders Workgroup and to the DSM-5 Personality and Personality Disorders Workgroup. From 2006-2011, he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. In 2015, he was one of three founding members (with Roman Kotov and Robert Krueger) of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) consortium.


Ph.D. 1982 University of Minnesota

B.S. 1975 Santa Clara University

Approach to Mentoring

I study individual differences. Accordingly, my mentoring approach recognizes the uniqueness of each individual. I encourage students to identify and develop their own interests and scholarship.

Representative Publications

Levin-Aspenson, H. F., Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Zimmerman, M. (2021). "What is the general factor of psychopathology?" Consistency of the p factor across samples. Assessment, 28, 1035-1049.

Watson, D., Forbes, M. K., Levin-Aspenson, H. F., Ruggero, C. J., Kotelnikova, Y., Khoo, S., Bagby, R. M. Sunderland, M., Patalay, P., & Kotov, R. (2021). "The development of preliminary HiTOP internalizing spectrum scales." Assessment. Advance online publication.

Stanton, K., McDonnell, C. G., Hayden, E. P., & Watson, D. (2020). "Transdiagnostic approaches to psychopathology measurement: Recommendations for measure selection, data analysis, and participant recruitment." Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129, 21-28.

Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (2019). "Constructing validity: New developments in creating objective measuring instruments." Psychological Assessment, 31, 1412-1427.

Watson, D., Stanton, K., Khoo, S., Ellickson-Larew, S., & Stasik-O’Brien, S. M. (2019). "Extraversion and psychopathology: A multilevel hierarchical review." Journal of Research in Personality, 81, 1-10.