Timothy Trull

Timothy Trull
Curators’ Distinguished Professor and Byler Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences
106C McAlester
Lab Area: 
Research Interests: 

I will be reviewing applications for a graduate student for Fall 2022

My research interests are in the areas of diagnosis and classification of mental disorders, personality disorders (particularly borderline personality disorder), substance use disorders, psychometrics and clinical assessment, the relationship between personality and psychopathology, professional issues in clinical psychology, affective instability, emotional dysregulation, and ambulatory assessment methods. Almost all of my research at this point involves Ambulatory Assessment.

Vist my lab website for more information!


Selected Publications: 

1. Ecological momentary assessment and ambulatory assessment: Ambulatory assessment (AA) encompasses a wide range of methods used to study people in their natural environment, including momentary self-report (e.g., ecological momentary assessment [EMA]), observational, and physiological (e.g., cardiac and respiratory activity) methods. Since 2004, I have worked on several projects that use AA to examine mood, impulsivity, personality, and substance use in those with BPD or other emotional dysregulation disorders. I have co-authored articles on the use of EMA/ESM approaches in clinical and psychological science. I have received funding from NIAAA and NIMH to continue this line of research on emotion dysregulation, affective instability, and alcohol use.

1.   Trull, T. J., & Ebner-Primer, U. W. (2020). Ambulatory Assessment in Psychopathology Research: A Review of Recommended Reporting Guidelines and Current Practices. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129, 56-63. https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000473

2.   Trull, T. J., & Ebner-Priemer, U. W. (2013). Ambulatory assessment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 151-176. PMC4249763

3.   Jahng, S., Solhan, M. B., Tomko, R., Wood, P. K., Piasecki, T. A., & Trull, T. J. (2011). Affect and alcohol use: An EMA study of Outpatients with borderline personality disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120, 572-584.  PMC4262451

4.   Trull, T. J., Wycoff, A. M., Lane, S. P., Carpenter, R. W., & Brown, W. C. (2016). Cannabis and Alcohol Use, Affect, and Impulsivity in Psychiatric Outpatients’ Daily Lives. Addiction, 111, 2052-2059. PMC5056804

2.  Personality, Personality Disorders, and Substance Use Disorders: Because BPD is frequently associated with substance use disorders (SUDs), I began to study the reasons why these conditions frequently co-occur within the same individuals. To date, I have published many papers on the topic of personality disorders and SUDs. In addition, I have served as Co-Investigator on two federally-funded grants (both from the NIAAA) that support projects that will provide data to address these and related questions. 

  1. Trull, T. J., Sher, K. J., Minks-Brown, C., Durbin, J., & Burr, R. (2000). Borderline personality disorder and substance use disorders: A review and integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 20, 235-253.    PMID: 10721499
  2. Jahng, S., Solhan, M. B., Tomko, R., Wood, P. K., Piasecki, T. A., & Trull, T. J. (2011). Affect and alcohol use: An EMA study of Outpatients with borderline personality disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120, 572-584. PMC4262451
  3. Jahng, S., Trull, T. J., Wood, P. K., Tragesser, S. L., Tomko, R., Grant, J. D., Bucholz, K. K., & Sher, K. J. (2011). Distinguishing General and Specific Personality Disorder Features and Implications for Substance Dependence Comorbidity. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120, 656-669. PMC4241053
  4. Lane, S. P., Carpenter, R. W., Sher, K. J., & Trull, T. J. (2016). Alcohol Craving and Consumption in Borderline Personality Disorder: When, Where, and with Whom. Clinical Psychological Science, 4, 775-792.  PMC5199026


3.  Intensive longitudinal data analysis: The amount of data that can be collected using AA methods is exponentially larger than what many psychological scientists are used to managing. AA data are often collected over much of the 24 hour day and over many days. In some of our studies, participants contribute over 10,000 data points a day. Therefore, expert data management and expertise in quantitative methods appropriate for “big data” like these are needed. We have published several papers proposing unique approaches to analyzing data for these types of studies. For example, our papers have focused on conceptualizing and quantifying dynamic processes like affective instability, impulsivity, and undifferentiated negative affect.

  1. Jahng, S., Wood, P.K., & Trull, T.J. (2008). Analysis of affective instability in EMA: Indices using successive difference and group comparison via multilevel modeling. Psychological Methods, 13, 354-375. PMID: 19071999
  2. Ebner-Priemer, U. W., Eid, M., Stabenow, S., Kleindienst N., & Trull, T. (2009). Analytic strategies for understanding affective (in) stability and other dynamic processes in psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 195-202. PMID: 19222325
  3. Tomko, R. L., Lane, S. P., Pronove, L. M., Treloar, H. R., Brown, W. C., Solhan, M. B., Wood, P. K., & Trull, T. J. (2015). Undifferentiated Negative Affect and Impulsivity in Borderline Personality Disorder: A Momentary Perspective. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124, 740-753. PMC4573801
  4. Trull, T. J., Lane, S. P., Koval, P., & Ebner-Priemer, U. W. (2015). Affective dynamics and psychopathology. Emotion Review, 7, 355-361. PMC5016030

4.  Borderline Personality Disorder: Diagnosis, description, and etiology (including genetics): Over the last 30 years, I have studied borderline personality disorder (BPD), and I have been funded by the NIMH, NIAAA, and research foundations for these projects. 

  1. Trull, T. J. (2001). Structural relations between borderline personality disorder features and putative etiological correlates. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 471-481. PMID: 11502090
  2. Distel, M. A., Trull, T. J., Willemsen, G., Derom, C., Thiery, E., Grimmer, M., Martin, N. G., & Boomsma, D. I. (2008). Heritability of Borderline Personality Features is similar across Three Countries. Psychological Medicine, 38, 1219-1229. PMID: 17988414
  3. Distel, M. A., Trull, T. J., Vink, J. M., Willemsen, G., Derom, C. A., Lynskey, M., Martin, N. G., & Boomsma, D. I. (2009). The five factor model of personality and borderline personality disorder: A genetic analysis of comorbidity. Biological Psychiatry, 66, 1131-1138. PMID: 19748081
  4. Distel, M. A., Trull, T. J., de Moor, M., M., H., Vink, J. M., Geels, L. M., van Beek, J., H., D., A., Bartels, M., Willemsen, G., Neale, M. C., & Boomsma, D. I. (2012). Borderline personality traits and substance use: Genetic factors underlie the association with marijuana initiation and smoking, but not with alcohol use. Journal of Personality Disorders, 26, 867-879. PMID: 23281672

5.  Dimensional models of personality disorder: There are a number of problems with the categorical system of personality disorder diagnosis that is codified in DSM-5. For example, the personality disorder categories are quite heterogeneous with regard to symptoms and traits, and a great deal of comorbidity among personality disorder diagnoses is frequently observed. An attractive alternative to representing personality pathology and disorder in a categorical manner (i.e., present versus absent) is a dimensional model of classification. My work in this area has been both conceptual and empirical. I have published several papers on the problems inherent in categorical systems of personality disorder diagnoses, as well as on the available dimensional models of personality and personality pathology that might be adopted. Further, several of my published studies have presented data directly relevant to this topic, focusing primarily on the five-factor model of personality.

  1. Trull, T. J., & Durrett, C. (2005). Categorical and dimensional models of personality disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 355-380. PMID: 17716092
  2. Widiger, T. A., & Trull, T. J. (2007). Plate tectonics in the classification of personality disorder: Shifting to a dimensional model. American Psychologist, 62, 71-83. PMID: 17324033
  3. Trull, T. J., Vergés, A., Wood, P. K., Jahng, S., & Sher, K. J. (2012). The Structure of DSM-IV-TR Personality Disorder Symptoms in a Large National Sample. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3, 355-369. PMC3779622
  4. Trull, T. J., & Widiger, T. A. (2013). Dimensional models of personality: The five-factor model and the DSM-5. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 15(2), 135-146. PMC3811085