Subtyping Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Taxometric Analysis

Document Type



Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a heterogeneous condition comprising multiple symptoms. Researchers have identified OCD subtypes using a range of symptom-based research methods, including factor and cluster analyses and examination of differential treatment response. These methods can be challenged on the grounds that they fail to demonstrate the existence of discrete taxonomic entities. Furthermore, no study has examined subtyping on the basis of cognitive characteristics. In the present study, the categorical vs. dimensional status of 6 possible subtypes of OCD was examined using taxometric methods. Three potential cognitive subtypes (based on high levels of responsibility/threat estimation, perfectionism/certainty, and importance/control of thoughts) and 3 potential symptomatic subtypes (based on elevated levels of contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions, checking, and obsessionality) were examined using the MAXEIG and MAMBAC procedures in a sample of 404 diagnosed cases of OCD. Findings favored dimensional models of the potential responsibility, perfectionism, checking, and contamination subtypes, but offered qualified support for taxonic models of the importance/control of thoughts and obsessional subtypes. Implications for the subclassification of OCD are discussed.

Article Number


Publication Date

Fall 2005

Peer Reviewed



APA Citation: Haslam, N., Williams, B.J., Kyrios, M., McKay, D. & Taylor, S. (2005). Subtyping obsessive-compulsive disorder: A taxometric analysis. Behavior Therapy, 36(4), 381-391.