Ethnic variations in the structure of borderline personality disorder symptomatology

Edward A. Selby, Thomas E. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to examine differences in the factor structure of borderline personality disorder symptoms among different ethnic groups. The authors obtained information regarding ethnic identity and endorsement of borderline personality disorder criteria for an ethnically diverse community sample of 1140 young adult subjects from south Florida. Using this information the authors conducted an exploratory factor analysis examining differences between Caucasian, Hispanic and African American groups. A principal-components factor analysis (PCA) with Varimax rotation for each ethnic group revealed a reasonably generalizable four-factor structure: affective dysregulation, cognitive disturbance, disturbed relatedness and behavioral dysregulation. The emergence of a four-factor structure across three separate, relatively large samples suggests that the factors obtained have merit. However, the loadings of some BPD symptoms, such as impulsivity, varied for each ethnic group. The results of this study indicate that ethnic variations in borderline personality disorder should be considered during assessment and treatment of this disorder. Also, future research should examine if this same factor structure holds for ethnic minorities with BPD diagnoses, examine ethnic differences in the etiology and maintenance of BPD symptomatology, and explore the effects that these differences might have in treatment settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Ethnicity
  • Impulsivity
  • Symptom structure


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