Aaron Pincus



Professor of Psychology
Licensed Psychologist
Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his
(814) 863-1723


Ph. D., University of British Columbia, 1992

Professional Bio

Research Interests:


I believe that interpersonal functioning is an integrative nexus for psychological science and practice, bringing together a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of adaptive and maladaptive human behavior ranging from proximal behavioral interaction to mental representations of self and others both past and present. This nomological net, referred to as Contemporary Integrative Interpersonal Theory (CIIT), guides much of my research program. CIIT is broadly informed and influenced by interpersonal theories, trait theories, object-relations theories, attachment theory, social learning theories, and social cognition (see Cain & Pincus, 2015; Hopwood, Wright, Ansell, & Pincus, 2013; Lukowitsky & Pincus, 2011; Pincus, 2005a, 2005b; Pincus & Ansell, 2003, 2013; Pincus & Cain, 2008; Pincus & Gurtman, 2006; Pincus & Hopwood, 2012; Pincus, Lukowitsky, & Wright, 2010; Pincus, Lukowitsky, Wright, & Eichler, 2009; Pincus, Sadler, Woody, Roche, Thomas, & Wright, 2014; Pincus & Wright, 2011). Currently I am working on several programs of research integrating clinical and personality psychological science using the “interpersonal situation” as an organizing framework (Hopwood, Pincus, & Wright, in press; Pincus, Hopwood, & Wright, 2015). All programs of research are part of the Personality Psychology Laboratory.

A. Circumplex Measures and Methods: I have consistently worked on developing and evaluating measures and methods associated with circumplex models of interpersonal behavior. I am a co-developer of the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems Circumplex Scales (IIP-C), the IIP-SC short form, the Chinese IIP-SC, and the Interpersonal Stressors Circumplex (ISC). In collaboration with Dr. Michael Gurtman, I have worked on the development and application of the “structural summary approach” to circumplex measurement. This approach takes advantage of the circular continuum of valid circumplex models to provide a curve fitting approach to interpersonal data. Recent work has also advanced circumplex methods for describing and statistically comparing groups and employing bootstrapping techniques to compute confidence intervals for the Structural Summary. Finally, we are developing methods for employing a multi-surface interpersonal battery in clinical assessment.

B. Interpersonal Pathoplasticity: Recent work examines the links between personality and psychopathology through the concept of interpersonal pathoplasticity. Pathoplastic relations are non-etiological and non-spectrum links between personality and psychopathology that bidierectionally influence the expression of traits, behaviors, symptoms, and treatment response. We have examined the added clinical value of identifying interpersonal subtypes in Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Fear of Failure, Depression, and PTSD.

C. Integration of Personality Structure and Dynamics: Recent work employs intensive repeated measures of social perception and behavior in daily life using bursts of daily diary assessment via smart phone technology examining intraindividual variability and processes linking social perception, social behavior, emotions, and symptoms over multiple timescales (e.g., interactions, days, weeks, and years) as it relates to stress, health, psychopathology, adjustment, and aging. In order to integrate structure and dynamics, we are currently examining how individual differences in personality and psychopathology impact the dynamics of social functioning in daily life.


Narcissism is one of the oldest and most complex forms of personality pathology found in the literature. Clinical conceptualizations of narcissism lack convergence and many pathological features noted in the clinical literature are not included in the DSM-5 diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). For several years, I have been developing a contemporary clinical model of pathological narcissism that more accurately integrates the clinical literature (Pincus, Cain, & Wright, 2014; Pincus & Lukowitsky, 2010; Pincus, Roche, & Good, 2014). I developed the Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI; Pincus et al., 2009; Pincus, 2013) to assess the clinically relevant facets of both narcissistic grandiosity and narcissistic vulnerability. The PNI has been translated into several languages including, Italian, German, Chinese, and is currently employed in clinical research around the world. I am interested in how pathological narcissism impacts social behavior and psychopathological symptoms. I am also developing a semi-structured clinical interview for pathological narcissism based on the contemporary clinical model.


The DSM-5 personality disorder workgroup proposed an alternative model of personality disorders (AMPD) that was included in Section III “emerging models and measures.” Although the AMPD is not perfect (Pincus, 2011, 2013), it was a significant advance over the existing personality disorder diagnostic categories that were retained in Section II of the DSM-5. My research continues to examine the implications of the AMPD to help revise it and develop sufficient empirical support to migrate a version to the main diagnostic section of DSM-5.1. Some of the key issues my research is looking at includes, a) How to theoretically and empirically integrate personality dynamics (Criterion A) with pathological personality traits (Criterion B), b) What role (if any) does the broad trait domain of negative affectivity play in discriminating personality severity and personality style?, and c) Does pathological narcissism reflect a specific style of personality disorder or is it better conceptualized as a core feature of general personality pathology?

Selected Recent Publications:


Bliton, C.F., & Pincus, A.L. (2020). Initial construction and validation the inventory of interpersonal influence tactics circumplex (IIT-C) scales. Assessment, 27, 688-705.

Dawood, S., Hallquist, M.N., Pincus, A.L., Ram, N., Newman, M.G., & Wilson, S.J., & Levy, K.N. (2020). Comparing signal-contingent and event-contingent experience sampling ratings of affect in a sample of psychotherapy outpatients. Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 42, 13-24.

Dawood, S., Wu, L.Z., Bliton, C.F., & Pincus, A.L. (2020). Narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders. In C. Lejuez & K. Gratz (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Personality Disorders (pp. 277-291). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Ellison, W.D., Levy, K.N., Newman, M.G., Pincus, A.L., Wilson, S.J., & Molenaar, P.C.M. (2020). Dynamics among borderline personality and anxiety features in outpatients: An exploration of nomothetic and idiographic patterns. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 11, 131-140.

Hopwood, C.J., Bagby, R.M., Gralnick, T., Ro, E., Ruggero, C., Mullins-Sweatt, S., Kotov, R., Bach, B.S., Cicero, D.C., Krueger, R.F., Patrick, C.J., Chmielewski, M., DeYoung, C.G., Docherty, A.R., Eaton, N.R., Forbush, K.T., Ivanova, M.Y., Latzman, R.D., Pincus, A.L., Samuel, D.B., Waugh, M.H., Wright, A.G.C., & Zimmermann, J. (in press). Using the hierarchical taxonomy of psychopathology to inform psychotherapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 30, 477-497.

Hopwood, C.J., Krueger, R.F., Watson, D., Widiger, T.A., Althoff, R.R., Ansell, E.B., Bach, B., Bagby, R.M., Blais, M.A., Bornovalova, M.A., Chmielewski, M., Cicero, D.C., Conway, C., De Clerq, B., De Fruyt, F., Docherty, A.R., Eaton, N.R., Edens, J.F., Forbes, M.K., Forbush, K.T.,  Ivanova, M.Y., Leising, D., Lukowitsky, M.R., Lynam, D.R., Markon, K.E., Miller, J.D., Morey, L.C., Mullins-Sweatt, S.N., Ormel, J.H., Patrick, C.J., Pincus, A.L., Ruggero, C., Samuel, D.B., Sellbom, M., Tackett, J.L., Thomas, K.M., Trull, T.J., Vachon, D.D., Waldman, I.D., Waszczuk, M.A., Waugh, M.H., Wright, A.G.C., Yalch, M.M., Zald, D.H., & Zimmermann, J. (2019). Commentary on “The challenge of transforming the diagnostic system for personality disorders”. Journal of personality disorders, 34(Supplement C), 1-4.

Kealy, D., Laverdière, O., & Pincus, A.L. (2020). Pathological narcissism and depression: The mediating role of impaired emotional processing. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 208, 161-164.

Kotov, R., Jonas, K. G., Carpenter, W. T., Dretsch, M. N., Eaton, N. R., Forbes, M. K., Forbush, K. T., Hobbs, K., Reininghaus, U., Slade, T., South, S. C., Sunderland, M., Waszczuk, M. A., Widiger, T. A., Wright, A. G. C., Zald, D. H., Krueger, R. F., Watson, D., & HiTOP Utility Workgroup. (2020). Validity and utility of Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP): I. Psychosis superspectrum. World Psychiatry, 19, 151-172.

Pincus, A.L. (2020). Complexity, pleomorphism, and dynamic processes in Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, 34, 204-206.

Pincus, A.L., Cain, N.M., & Halberstadt, A.L. (2020). Importance of self and other in defining personality pathology. Psychopathology, 53, 133-140.

Pincus, A.L., Dawood, S., Wu, Z., & Bliton, C.F. (2020). Clinical personality science of narcissism should include the clinic. In C. Lejuez & K. Gratz (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Personality Disorders (pp. 300-301). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Pincus, A.L., Hopwood, C.J., & Dawood, S. (2020). A contemporary interpersonal reassessment of Madeline G. In Hopwood, C. J., & Waugh, M. (Eds.), Personality assessment paradigms and methods: A collaborative reassessment of Madeline G. (pp. 112-131). New York: Routledge.

Pincus, A.L., Hopwood, C.J., & Wright, A.G.C. (2020). The interpersonal situation: An integrative framework for the study of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy. In D. Funder, J.F. Rauthmann, & R. Sherman (Eds.), Oxford handbook of psychological situations (pp. 124-142). New York: Oxford University Press.

Somma, A., Pincus, A.L., Fontana, A., Cianfanelli, B., & Fossati, A. (2020). Measurement Invariance of three versions of the Pathological Narcissism   Inventory across Gender-Matched Italian Adolescent High School and Adult University Students. Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 42, 38-51.

Waszczuk, M.A., Eaton, N.A., Krueger, R.F., Shackman, A.J., Waldman, I.D., Zald, D.H., Lahey, B.B., Patrick, C.A., Conway, C.C., Ormel, J., Hyman, S.F., Robinson, E.B., Fried, E.I., Forbes, M.K., Althoff, R.R., Bach, B., Chmielewski, M., de Young, C.G., Docherty, A., Forbush, K.T., Hallquist, M., Hopwood, C.J., Ivanova, M., Jonas, K.G., Latzman, R.D., Markon, K.E., Mullins-Sweatt, S.N., Pincus, A.L., Reininghaus, U., South, S.C., Tackett, J.L., Watson, D., Wright, A.G.C., & Kotav, R. (2020). Redefining phenotypes to advance psychiatric genetics: Implications from Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129, 143-161.

Wright, A.J., Chávez, L., Edelstein, B., Grus, C., Krishnamurthy, R., Lieb, R., Mihura, J., Pincus, A.L., & Wilson, M. (2020). Education and training guidelines for psychological assessment in health service psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/about/policy/guidelines-assessment-health-service.pdf


Hopwood, C.J., Pincus, A.L., & Wright, A.G.C. (2021). Six assumptions of Contemporary Integrative Interpersonal Theory of personality and psychopathology. Current Opinion in Psychology, 41, 65-70.

Krueger, R.F., Hobbs, K.A., Conway, C.C., Dick, D.M., Dretsch, M.N., Eaton, N.R., Forbes, M.K., Forbush, K.T., Keyes, K.M., Latzman, R.D., Michelini, G., Patrick, C.J., Sellbom, M., Slade, T., South, S.C., Sunderland, M., Tackett, J., Waldman, I., Waszczuk, M.A., Wright, A.G.C., Zald, D.H., Watson, D., Kotov, R., & HiTOP Utility Workgroup (2021). Validity and utility of Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP): II. Externalizing superspectrum. World Psychiatry, 20, 171-193.

Krueger, R.F., Kotov, R., Watson, D., Forbes, M.K., Eaton, N.R., Ruggero, C.J., Simms, L.J., Widiger, T.A., Achenbach, T.M., Bach, B., Bagby, R.M., Bornovalova, M.A., Carpenter, W.T., Chmielewski, M., Cicero, D., Clark, L.A., Conway, C., DeClercq, B., DeYoung, C.G., Docherty, A.R., Drislane, L.E., First, M.B., Forbush, K.T., Hallquist, M., Haltigan11, J.D., Hopwood, C.J., Ivanova, M.Y., Jonas, K.G., Latzman, R.D., Markon, K.E., Miller, J.D., Morey, L.C., Mullins-Sweatt, S.D., Ormel, J., Patalay, P., Patrick, C.J., Pincus, A.L., Regier, D.A., Reininghaus, U., Rescorla, L.A., Samuel, D.B., Sellbom, M., Shackman, A., Skodol, A., Slade, T., South, S.C., Sunderland, M., Tackett, J.L., Venables, N.C., Waldman, I.D., Waszczuk, M.A., Waugh, M.H., Wright, A.G.C., Zald, D.H., & Zimmermann, J. (2021). Les progrès dans la réalisation de la classification quantitative de la psychopathologie. Annales Médico-psychologiques, revue psychiatrique, 179, 95-106.

Ménard, K.S., Dowgwillo, E.A., & Pincus, A.L. (2021). The role of gender, child maltreatment, alcohol expectancies, and personality pathology on relationship violence among undergraduates. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36, NP4094-NP4114.

Pincus, A.L., & Wright, A.G.C. (2021). Narzissmus als Dynamik von Grandiositat und Vulnerabilitat/Narcissism as the Dynamics of Grandiosity and Vulnerability. In S. Doering, H-P. Hartmann, & O.F. Kernberg (Eds.), Narzissmus: Grundlagen - Störungsbilder - Therapie/Narcissism: Basics – Disorders - Therapy (2nd ed., pp. 56-62). Stuttgart, Germany: Schattauer Publishers.

In Press

Brinberg, M., Ram, N., Conroy, D.E., Pincus, A.L., & Gerstorf, D. (in press). Dyadic analysis and the reciprocal one-with-many model: Extending study of interpersonal processes with intensive longitudinal data. Psychological Methods.

Bliton, C.F., Roche, M.J., Pincus, A.L., & Dueber, D. (in press). Examining the structure and validity of self-report measures of DSM-5 Alternative Model for Personality Disorders Criterion A. Journal of Personality Disorders.

Conway, C.C., South, S.C., Forbes, M.K., & HiTOP Consortium Members (in press). A Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) primer for mental health researchers. Clinical Psychological Science.

Pincus, A.L. (in press). A brief overview of the Pathological Narcissism Inventory. In P.K. Jonason (Ed.), Shining light on the dark side of personality: Measurement properties and theoretical advances. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge.

Pincus, A.L. (in press). Narcissistic personality disorder and pathological narcissism. In R.F. Krueger & P.H. Blaney (Eds.), Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology, 4th Ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pincus, A.L. (in press). Circle songs and sands of time. In Hopwood, C.J. (Ed.). The evolution of personality assessment in the 21st century: Understanding the people who understand people. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge.

Pincus, A.L., & Hopwood, C.J. (in press). A contemporary interpersonal model of personality pathology and personality disorder. In T.A. Widiger (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Personality Disorders, 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Watson, D., Levin-Aspenson, H.F., Waszczuk, M.A., Conway, C.C., Dalgleish, T. Dretsch, M.N., Eaton, N.R., Forbes, M.K., Forbush, K.T., Hobbs, K.A., Michelini, G., Nelson, B.D., Sellbom, M., Slade, T., South, S.C.,  Sunderland, M., Waldman, I., Witthöft, M., Wright, A.G.C., Kotov, R., Krueger, R.F., & HiTOP Utility Workgroup (in press). Validity and utility of Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP): III. Emotional dysfunction superspectrum. World Psychiatry.

Wright, A.J., Chávez, L., Edelstein, B., Grus, C., Krishnamurthy, R., Lieb, R., Mihura, J., Pincus, A.L., & Wilson, M. (in press). Education and training guidelines for psychological assessment in health service psychology. American Psychologist.

Aaron Pincus
Aaron Pincus


Primary Investigator:

Program Areas:

Adult Clinical