Nicholas R. Eaton, Ph.D.

neatonUniversity of Minnesota (2012)
Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychology
Associated Faculty, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Dr. Eaton will be accepting graduate students for the 2017-2018 academic year.


Classification and structure of psychopathology and comorbidity; quantitative methods and psychometrics; LGBTQ issues; sexual behavior, risk, and health; mental health of oppressed minorities (e.g., defined by race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity).


Dr. Eaton’s primary research interests involve the conceptualization and classification of psychopathology. This work focuses on quantitative modeling to investigate the structure of mental disorders. The way mental disorders are currently defined is largely a reflection of expert opinion, rather than systematic empirical study. When clinicians diagnose patients, they attempt to fit the patients into a predetermined set of disorders, enshrined in classification systems like the DSM-5. Unfortunately, there is often a significant mismatch between the observed data (patients’ symptoms) and the organizing model (the diagnoses). Dr. Eaton’s research takes the alternative approach: Starting with information about patients’ symptoms, he uses these data to create new psychopathology constructs. The goal is to produce an accurate characterization of mental disorders as they actually occur in nature by letting the data, rather than expert opinion, tell the story.

Toward these ends, Dr. Eaton applies quantitative methods that allow for the direct testing of alternative hypotheses about mental disorder structure. For instance, are mental disorders best defined as categories (yes/no diagnoses), dimensions (symptom levels ranging from very low to very high), or category-dimension hybrids? These investigations utilize such approaches as exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, latent class analysis, exploratory factor mixture modeling, item response theory (IRT), and model-based cluster analysis. He has a strong interest in psychometrics as well, including the reliable and valid assessment of psychopathology and personality.

Dr. Eaton is also very interested in individual and group differences. In terms of individual differences, his research addresses the intersections between normal-range personality, pathological personality, and mental disorders. Regarding group differences, Dr. Eaton is particularly interested in mental health disparities between groups, as defined by age cohorts, gender, nationality/culture, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so on. From where do these disparities emerge? Can a more accurate characterization of psychopathology help us understand these questions better?

Finally, one area of particular interest to Dr. Eaton is research on human sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. How can we conceptualize and classify the diversity of sexual attractions, behaviors, and identities? What is the best way to define and assess sexual orientation? Some of Dr. Eaton’s research in this area concerns what underpins the higher rates of mental disorders observed in LGBT individuals. For instance, what role do discrimination and harassment play in the development of mental disorders in sexual minorities? In addition, he wishes to pursue questions relating to understudied gender and sexual minorities, including transgender, bisexual, and asexual individuals.


* denotes a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow for whom I served as primary advisor
† denotes a departmental graduate student or postdoctoral fellow

Classification, Psychopathology, and Personality

Kim, H.*, Keifer, C. M. †, Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Eaton, N. R., Lerner, M. D., & Gadow, K. D. (in press). Structural hierarchy of autism spectrum disorder symptoms: an integrative framework. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Eaton, N. R., Stohl, M., Mauro, P., & Hasin, D. S. (in press). Mental disorder comorbidity and treatment utilization. Comprehensive Psychiatry.

Greene, A. L.*, & Eaton, N. R. (in press). The temporal stability of the bifactor model of comorbidity: an examination of moderated continuity pathways. Comprehensive Psychiatry.

Forbes, M. K., Baillie, A. J., Eaton, N. R., & Krueger, R. F. (in press). A place for sexual dysfunctions in an empirical taxonomy of psychopathology. Journal of Sex Research.

Kotov, R., Krueger, R. F., Watson, D., Achenbach, T. M., Althoff, R. R., Bagby, M., … Eaton, N. R., … & Zimmerman, M. (in press). The Hierarchical Taxonomy Of Psychopathology (HiTOP): a dimensional alternative to traditional nosologies. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Kim, H.*, & Eaton, N. R. (2015). The hierarchical structure of common mental disorders: connecting multiple levels of analysis, bifactor models, and predictive validity. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124(4), 1064-1078.

Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Stohl, M., Hasin, D. S., & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Transdiagnostic factors and mediation of the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and mental disorders. JAMA Psychiatry, 72, 706-713.

Greene, A. L.*, & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Panic disorder and agoraphobia: a direct comparison of their multivariate comorbidity patterns. Journal of Affective Disorders, 190, 75-83.

Eaton, N. R. (2015). Latent variable and network models of comorbidity: toward an empirically derived nosology. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 50(6), 845-849

Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Eaton, N. R., and Krueger, R. F. (in press). How transdiagnostic factors of personality and psychopathology can inform clinical assessment and intervention. Journal of Personality Assessment, 97(5), 425-435.

Eaton, N. R., Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Carragher, N., & Krueger, R. F. (2015). Transdiagnostic factors of psychopathology and substance use disorders: a review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 50, 171-182.

Krueger, R. F., & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Transdiagnostic factors of mental disorders. World Psychiatry, 14(1), 27-29.

Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., Docherty, A. R., & Sponheim, S. R. (2014). Toward a model-based approach to the clinical assessment of personality psychopathology. Journal of Personality Assessment, 96(3), 283-292.

Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., Markon, K. E., Keyes, K. M., Skodol, A. E., Wall, M., Hasin, D. S., & Grant, B. F. (2013). The structure and predictive validity of the internalizing disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(1), 86-92.

Eaton, N. R., Keyes, K. M., Krueger, R. F., Noordhof, A., Skodol, A. E., Markon, K. E., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2013). Ethnicity and psychiatric comorbidity in a national sample: Evidence for latent comorbidity factor invariance and connections with disorder prevalence. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48(5), 701-710.

Eaton, N. R., Keyes, K. M., Krueger, R. F., Balsis, S., Skodol, A. E., Markon, K. E., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2012). An invariant dimensional liability model of gender differences in mental disorder prevalence: Evidence from a national sample. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(1), 282-288.

Keyes, K. M., Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., McLaughlin, K., Wall, M. M., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2012). Childhood maltreatment and the structure of common psychiatric disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry, 200(2), 107-115.

Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2011). The structure and long-term stability of the internalizing spectrum of personality and psychopathology across the lifespan. Psychology and Aging, 26(4), 987-993.

Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., South, S. C., Simms, L. J., & Clark, L. A. (2011). Contrasting prototypes and dimensions in the classification of personality pathology: Evidence that dimensions, but not prototypes, are robust. Psychological Medicine, 41(6), 1151-1163.

Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., Keyes, K. M., Skodol, A. E., Markon, K. E., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2011). Borderline personality disorder co-morbidity: Relationship to the internalizing-externalizing structure of common mental disorders. Psychological Medicine, 41(5), 1041-1050.

Eaton, N. R., South, S. C., & Krueger, R. F. (2010). The meaning of comorbidity among common mental disorders. In T. Millon, R. Krueger, & E. Simonsen (Eds.), Contemporary directions in psychopathology: Scientific foundations of the DSM-V and ICD-11 (2nd ed., pp. 223-241). New York: Guilford Publications.

Krueger, R. F., & Eaton, N. R. (2010). Personality traits and the classification of mental disorders: Toward a more complete integration in DSM-5 and an empirical model of psychopathology. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 1(2), 97-118.

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Dyar, C.†, Feinstein, B. A.†, Eaton, N. R., & London, B. (in press). The mediating roles of rejection sensitivity and proximal stress in the association between discrimination and internalizing symptoms among sexual minority women. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Feinstein, B. A.†, Latack, J. A.†, Bhatia, V.†, Davila, J., & Eaton, N. R. (2016). Romantic relationship involvement as a minority stress buffer in gay/lesbian versus bisexual individuals. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, 20, 237-257.

Dyar, C.†, Feinstein, B. A.†, Eaton, N. R., & London, B. (2016). Development and initial validation of the Sexual Minority Women Rejection Sensitivity Scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 40, 120-137.

Eaton, N. R., Thompson, R. G., Jr., & Hasin, D. S. (2015). Toward a broader understanding of LGBT sex-related substance use. American Journal of Public Health, 105(12), e1-e2.

Olson, K. R., Key, A. C., & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Gender cognition in transgender children. Psychological Science, 26, 467-474.

Feinstein, B. A.†, Meuwly, N., Davila, J., Eaton, N. R., & Yoneda, A. (2015). Sexual orientation prototypicality and well-being among heterosexual and sexual minority individuals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44(5), 1415-1422.

Eaton, N. R. (2014). Trans-diagnostic psychopathology factors and sexual minority mental health: evidence of disparities and associations with minority stressors. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1(3), 244-254.

Sexual Behavior and Health

Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Arfer, K. B.†, Thompson, R. G., Jr., Hasin, D. S., & Eaton, N. R. (in press). Sex-related substance use and the externalizing spectrum. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Forbes, M. K., Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F. (in press). Sexual quality of life and aging: a prospective study of a nationally representative sample. Journal of Sex Research.

Thompson, R. G., Jr., Eaton, N. R., Hu, M.-C., & Hasin, D. S. (in press). Borderline personality disorder and regularly drinking alcohol before sex. Drug and Alcohol Review.

Eaton, N. R., Thompson, R. G., Jr., Hu, M.-C., Goldstein, R. B., Saha, T. D., Hasin, D. S. (2015). Regularly drinking alcohol prior to sexual activity in a nationally representative sample: prevalence, sociodemographics, and associations with psychiatric and substance use disorders. American Journal of Public Health, 105(7), 1387-1393.

Latack, J. A.†, Rodriguez-Seijas, C.*, Stohl, M., Blanco, C., Hasin, D. S., & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Transdiagnostic psychopathology mediates the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections in adulthood. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 62, 71-79.

Thompson, R. G. Jr., Eaton, N. R., Hu, M.-C., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2014). Regularly drinking alcohol before sex in the United States: Effects of relationship status and alcohol use disorders. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 141, 167-170.


Gulamhussein, Q.*, & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Hijab, religiosity, and psychological wellbeing of Muslim women in the United States. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 9(2), 25-40.

Funk, C. L., Smith, K. B., Alford, J. R., Hibbing, M. V., Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., Eaves, L. J., & Hibbing, J. R. (2013). Genetic and environmental transmission of political orientations. Political Psychology, 34(6), 805-819.

Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., South, S., Gruenewald, T. L., Seeman, T., & Roberts, B. W. (2012). Genes, environments, personality, and successful aging: Toward a comprehensive developmental model in later life. The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 67(5), 480-488.


2017 Robins/Guze Award, American Psychopathological Association: Nicholas R. Eaton

2016 Department of Psychology 2nd-year Research Award: Craig Rodriguez-Seijas*

2016 Department of Psychology Good Citizen Award: Ashley Greene*

2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship: Tenille Taggart*

2015 Rising Star Award, Association for Psychological Science: Nicholas R. Eaton

2015 Martin Mayman Award (for the year’s best theoretical contribution to the Journal of Personality Assessment), Society for Personality Assessment: Craig Rodriguez-Seijas*, Nicholas R. Eaton, & Robert F. Krueger

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