Hopwood Honored for Work to Bring More Science to Psychiatric Diagnoses

Portrait of professor at desk
Chris Hopwood (photo by G.L. Kohuth/Michigan State University)

Psychologist to Receive 2018 Millon Award

Chris Hopwood, an associate professor of psychology working to develop better models for psychiatric diagnosis, has been selected to receive the American Psychological Foundation's 2018 Theodore Millon Award in Personality Psychology.

The award honors an outstanding early or mid-career psychologist engaged in advancing the science of personality psychology. Hopwood will receive the $1,000 prize during the American Psychological Association (APA) conference Aug. 9-12 in San Francisco.

Trained as a clinical psychologist, Hopwood joined UC Davis this year, after 10 years on the psychology faculty at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

He directs the UC Davis Personality Assessment Lab, where he researches how personality relates to psychopathology, the genetic and environmental underpinnings of individual differences and how personality plays out in relationships.

The Theodore Millon Award is named for a pioneering psychologist who helped define how scientists and psychologists identify and think about personality disorders today. Millon, who died in 2014, developed a widely used diagnostic assessment and described many of the categories of personality disorders included in the standard mental health diagnostic manual.

But those categories are based on medical observations rather than scientific evidence, Hopwood said during a UC Davis Institute for Social Sciences talk earlier this month.

Hopwood has spent the past 10 years assessing people's personalities and their symptoms to contribute to an evidence-based way to diagnose personality problems.

"When you do that, regardless of which psychopathology you are studying, you never find … categories or bins," he said.

"You can take all the symptoms in the manual … and try to see how they actually sort in nature, as opposed to how they assort in the minds of the experts who put together the manual."

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science

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