Early maladaptive schemas and their relation to personality disorders: a correlational examination in a clinical population

Hannah Kunst*, Jill Lobbestael, Ingrid Candel, Tim Batink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Personality Disorder (PD) pathology has been linked to Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs; Young, 1999). Because of a large heterogeneity in study populations, sample size, statistical analyses and conceptualizations in the literature, the exact relationships between PDs and EMSs are still unclear. The current study examined the relationship between borderline, dependent, avoidant and obsessive-compulsive PDs, represented dimensionally as number of traits, and 15 different EMSs as measured by the YSQ. A total of N = 130 inpatients took part in the study (Mage = 43.6, gender = 51.5% female). Stepwise regressions indicated that borderline, dependent, avoidant and obsessive-compulsive PD traits were partly characterized by specific EMSs and EMSs grouped as domains (i.e. other-directedness domain for dependent PD and overvigilance for obsessive-compulsive PD), and that relations with a variety of domains and EMSs were overlapping for the PD dimensions (i.e. disconnection and rejection for both borderline and avoidant PD). This suggests that PDs are reflected by a hybrid model of EMSs, with some EMSs and domains that relate to a broader vulnerability factor for PDs, and other domains that differentially relate to the independent PDs. Findings are informative for clinicians, as various EMSs per PD may be targeted in therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2020

Cite this