Introduction: This study investigated the structure of the borderline personality features (BPFs) network and the most central BPF in adolescence. Methods: Cross-sectional self-report data from 4,866 Chinese adolescents (M = 13.96, SD = 1.64; 61.3% girls) were included in the network analysis models. BPFs were assessed with the McLean Screening Instrument for Borderline Personality Disorder. Results: Identity disturbance and affective instability emerged as the most central BPF in the current adolescent sample. In addition, chronic emptiness was also found with high centrality. The general networks of BPF were very similar between adolescent boys and girls, although some differences were detected. Discussion: This study further supports the necessity of BPD assessment and diagnosis in adolescence and identifies the distinctive importance of identity and affective dysregulation in the early development of BPD. The findings provide empirical insights into the interconnections of BPF, which resonate with therapeutic mechanisms of evidence-based treatments for BPD. However, the research was limited in its use of a screening measurement rather than a diagnostic tool. Future studies can further explore BPD psychopathology in adolescence with longitudinal data and clinical interviews.

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