While having a look at a recent question here, I ran into some (non-peer reviewed) articles with a description like

High-conflict people (HCPs) have high-conflict personalities. This means they have an ongoing pattern of all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions, extreme behavior or threats, and a preoccupation with blaming others. They have a Target of Blame, whom they regularly bully, harass, blame, humiliate, annoy, spread rumors about, and subject to many other adversarial behaviors. This pattern increases and maintains interpersonal conflicts, rather than reducing or resolving them — which is what most people try to do.

If you google the HCP term, you'll find several articles with a similar definition, most from the same author. One was even published in the mainstream mass media,

Eventually this HCP is cast a sort of cross-sectional aspect of several personality disorders (at least in one article)

Narcissistic HCPs are characterized by an underlying fear of being inferior or powerless, so they are constantly putting themselves above other people — which alienates them in the process and tends to make people look down on them. Borderline HCPs have a deep fear of being abandoned, so they are constantly clinging and demanding reassurance, but alternating that with occasional rages when they feel abandoned — which often pushes people to abandon them. Antisocial HCPs really don’t want to be dominated by others, so they try hard to dominate others, but often end up in prison, where they are dominated. Paranoid HCPs have a fear of being betrayed by those around them, so they may overreact and attack those they fear — which tends to drive people to turn on them. Histrionic HCPs are preoccupied with being the center of attention and will often publicly criticize other people’s behavior (their Targets of Blame) in an effort to get sympathy and more attention. Knowing these patterns makes it easier to spot them, especially when this is combined with observing the four characteristics of HCPs at the top of this article.

This has some similarities with the alternative (research) abnormal personality model from DSM-5 in the sense that the latter is also using some traits which possibly span several conventional personality disorders:

In the alternative model, the essential criteria to define any personality disorder are: a) moderate or greater impairment in personality functioning, and b) the presence of pathological personality traits. A “level of functioning” scale is provided, and sensitivity and specificity data supported the designation of “moderate impairment” as the appropriate threshold to indicate the presence of a personality disorder. As defined in the alternative model, personality functioning consists of the degree to which there is an intact sense of self (involving a clear, coherent identity and effective self-directedness) and interpersonal functioning (reflecting a good capacity for empathy and for mature, mutually rewarding intimacy with others). Pathological personality traits are organized into five trait domains (negative affectivity, detachment, antagonism, disinhibition, and psychoticism), each of which is further explicated by a set of trait facets reflecting aspects of the domain itself. This trait system has been shown to correlate well with the Five Factor Model.

"High-conflict people" don't quite seem to match any of those 5 traits specifically, but I suppose they would score high on antagonism, disinhibition, negative affectivity, and possibly even psychoticism. (On the FFM they'd probably score low on Agreeableness, high on Extraversion and on Neuroticism.)

Is there peer-reviewed research on "High-conflict people", perhaps under different terminology? Or is this more of a fringe-scientific grouping?


1 Answer 1


I had a look on scopus and there were no hits for "High conflict people".

So I imagine you'd want to turn to other literature; a few thoughts:

  • Dark Triad
  • Agreeableness from the Big 5
  • Conflict styles literature
  • Personality disorders literture
  • Literature on aggression

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