Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)

This paper presents an evaluation of the Minnesota multiphasic personal inventory – Second edition (MMPI-2). First of all, an outline of test evaluation (OTE) is provided, which describes the key features of the test. Based on the data obtained, a review of the advantages and disadvantages of MMPI-2 is compiled. In general, MMPI-2 has a high validity due to the use of multiple validity scales and also provides comprehensive information on possible symptoms. Additionally, test results are difficult to falsify, and only certified examiners have access to it, which increases the reliability of the results. At the same time, the normative sample of the test is rather limited and can be biased, and the test may be difficult to interpret. The purpose of this report is to review the MMPI-2 based on the information provided in the OTE.

General Information

The title of the standardized test is Minnesota multiphasic personal inventory – Second edition (MMPI-2). The first edition of the test was originally developed by Starke R. Hathaway and J. C. McKinley (Schiele et al., 1943). It was first published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1943. The second edition of the test came out in 1989 and was also published by the University of Minnesota Press (Harthaway & McKinley, 1989). In 2001, the Manual for administration, scoring, and interpretation was published, providing complete information on the conduct of the test and the analysis of results (Butcher et al., 2001). In 2003, MMPI-2 was augmented by Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales, which were aimed at eliminating the psychometric shortcomings of the original scales (Tellegen et al., 2003). The administration time of the MMPI-2 test is 60-90 minutes (MMPI®-2 overview, n.d).

Brief Description of the Purpose and Nature of the Test

MMPI-2 is an individual test that measures personality and psychopathology (personality inventory test). The test population is comprised of adults over 18 years of age; MMPI-2 has verbal nature of the content (textual materials with formulated questions). However, it is appropriate only for individuals with “normal intelligence and reading ability requires a minimum reading age of US grade 8” (Separate versions of the test are used for male and female participants (Stack, 2004, p. 9.; Schilling & Casper, 2015); MMPI-A is used to test adolescents (Butcher et al., 1992). MMPI-2 contains true or false items (Floyd & Gupta, 2021).

Practical Evaluation

The test booklet contains 567 true or false items, as well as a separate sheet for recording the answers. Further answers are “hand-scored and plotted on an X-Y graph” (Floyd & Gupta, 2021, para. 2). The test is easy to administer, as it involves self-reporting of the participants. The clarity of directions is quite high since the test contains a standardized questionnaire. The test can be scored by hand using special scoring keys. However, special equipment can be used to scan the responses and conduct a scoring process (Zapata-Sola et al., 2009). This minimizes the risk of making a mistake when scoring results. In particular, the most commonly used equipment is the Pearson Assessments Q Local Software System (Q Local Scoring, n.d). SPSS software is commonly used for T score correlation analysis (Ismanto & Supriyanto, 2015). The examiner must be Level C qualified to acquire materials and administer MMPI-2, which is the highest training category (Store, n.d). This means that the test can only be performed by a qualified psychologist with special training who also knows how to use scoring instruments.

The qualification of a clinical psychologist who conducts the test and scoring, as well as interprets the results, plays a key role in the adequacy of the MMPI-2 results. Although there are no results of the face validity assessment of MMPI-2, Mehlman, and Rand (1960) note that MMPI investigation suggests “a gap between the theory and knowledge of psychopathology possessed by informed persons” (p. 175). Additionally, the researchers mention that flaws may be lurking in the original test group (Mehlman & Rand, 1960). However, in MMPI-2, as in the revised version, the sample was wider, which could increase the face validity.

Technical Evaluation

MMPI-2 is used as a percentiles score (Interpretation of MMPI-2, 2015). The normative sample MMPI-2 consists of 2600 individuals, including 1462 women and 1138 men (MMPI-2 FAQs, n.d). Sample participants are over 18 years old and represent the US population (MMPI-2 FAQs, n.d). In particular, the normative sample includes American minorities but not members of other cultures (MMPI-2 FAQs, n.d). Separate standardized samples exist only for gender groups, while education, occupation, and region are not considered.

MMPI-2 was tested for reliability using a test-retest coefficient and absolute score change. In the research by Putnam et al. (2010), 111 male clergies participated in the test (p. 341). They took the test twice, for a period of 4 months. During testing, insignificant changes in the T score were found, which coincides with the results presented in the original manuals. Putnam et al. (2010) conclude that the reliability of MMPI-2 scales “appears acceptable and compares favorably with the original MMPI” (p. 341). Vacha-Haase et al. (2001) report that the reliability scores for MMPI range from 0.80 to 0.85 for normal and psychiatric patients in an interval of less than one day (p. 392). Over an interval of more than one year, the score reliability ranges from 0.35 to 0.60, with the reliability coefficient higher for psychiatric participants (Vacha-Haase et al., 2001, p. 392). For MMPI-2, these figures are the same or higher than for MMPI.

The equivalence of forms is another important indicator that needs to be considered. Gaston et al. (1994) identify that MMPI and MMPI-2 are similar in the rank ordering of score and T score of distribution. However, “MMPI-2 mean scores were found to be consistently lower for scales & 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and 0” (Gaston et al., 1994, p. 417). At the same time, the researchers note that the percentages of the agreement are quite low between the two tests (Gaston et al., 1994). These findings identify that MMPI code types can be used successfully for MMPI-2. Merenda (1993) emphasizes that the short-term stability of MMPI-2 scores is rather low, which indicates weak long-term stability. Stein et al. (1998) confirm that for MMPI-A, the short-term stability coefficient is usually lower for all scores than the long-term stability coefficient. Munley (2002) notes that MMPI-2 show “similar personality features and clinical symptom presentation features as measured by the MMPI–2 over extended periods of time” (p. 156). Thus, the long-term stability of the results is sufficient for validation.

MMPI-2 uses different scales to measure the validity of the test. In particular, the test contains three validity scales: L (Lie), F (Infrequency), and K (Correction) (Duckworth, 1991). Additionally, two new validity scales were created for MMPI-2: TRIN (True Response Inconsistency) and VRIN (Variable Response Inconsistency) (Duckworth, 1991; Butcher, 2015). In addition, the test also contains content-based scales that evaluate themes and provide descriptions of specific issues (Butcher, 2015). Thus, MPPI-2 includes validity measurements with different scales.

Reviewers’ Comments

The comprehensive MMIP-2 review collection has not been published at this time. The MMIP review was published in the Ninth mental measurement yearbook (Mitchell, 1985). Duckworth (1991) mentions that there are a number of positive changes in MMPI-2 compared to MMPI. These include additional validity and clinical scales, improved norms, and updated items. There are also negative features such as “problems with the compatibility of code types and the representativeness of the norm group” (Duckworth, 1991, p. 564). The rest of the available reviews focus on MMPI, MMPI-A, and MMPI-2-RF.

Summary of Evaluation

MMPI-2 is a standardized personal test that greatly simplifies its administration. However, as noted, the examiner requires fairly high qualifications, and the scoring system is quite complex, which makes it difficult to use the test (limits the scope of use and increases the risk of errors with manual scoring). Moreover, MMPI-2 includes a larger number of items, which can also be difficult for participants. At the same time, the variety of scales and items does not allow for falsification of test results, which increases their validity. MMPI-2 has limitations in the intellectual ability and reading skills of the participants, which restricts its use.

Despite the volume of the test, the administration time is rather short, which is an advantage. Moreover, with the help of MMPI-2, several people can be assessed at once since the test assumes self-assessment. The scoring software, as well as the scoring keys, greatly reduce the chance of error in the scoring. At the same time, the variety of items and scales requires a fairly high level of knowledge and skills from the administrator when interpreting. In general, the interpretation of the results is a key step for MMPI-2, which increases the detail of the results. At the same time, the possibility of misinterpretation increases, which can negatively affect the diagnosis.

One of the most outstanding advantages of MMPI-2 is the availability of validity scales, which greatly increase the accuracy of testing. Many of the questions in the test require confirmation and are paired, which allows researchers to obtain more detailed results. Like MMPI, MMPI-2 has an F scale that forces participants to endorse responses in the latter part of the test booklet. In addition to this validity tool, the VRIN and TRlN scales have been added, which help to identify inconsistent or contradictory items. The VRIN contains pairs of items that either have the same or opposite meanings. The TRIN contains items that are always opposite in content. These scales allow researchers to rate participants’ responses consistently false or true. Another important advantage of MMPI-2 is the separate scales for men and women. This allows for gender sensitivity to be taken into account when interpreting the results. However, the standardized test sample included a homogeneous population. Individual studies on the characteristics of a culture, education, or region have not been tested, which greatly reduces applicability.

One of the disadvantages of the test is the need to use additional scoring equipment. While this can be done manually, scoring keys are still needed. For easier processing of the results, it is necessary to use special software. At the same time, the system can be an advantage of the test since the accuracy of scoring with the use of special means is significantly increased. However, the qualification requirements of the examiner do not allow for more routine use of the test. This aspect can also be an aspect affecting the high accuracy of the results. Overall, for MMPI-2, there are quite detailed manuals available that describe all stages of working with the system, which is an advantage.

The main drawback of the test is its normative group, which, although wide, can be quite biased. In particular, “45 percent of the ‘normals’ are college graduates, and this really has biased certain specific scales” (as cited in Duckworth, 1991, p. 566). This sample greatly influences who the test can be applied. In particular, it can hardly be effectively used in a public clinical setting since it does not take into account mental and intellectual diversity. This aspect, in addition to the absence of culture-sensitive samples, makes MMPI-2 a tool for specific participants. In particular, this tool can be applied to a homogeneous group of participants with approximately the same educational level and social determinants.

In addition to validity scales, MMPI-2 also includes clinical scales that attribute to various diagnoses. In this case, such a scale can be rather limited since it does not provide a detailed description of each item. In this case, including outdated diagnoses such as Hysteria are included, and there is also no connection with classification systems. Thus, the tool is likely to be fully used to identify differential diagnoses in a clinical setting. However, MMPI-2 helps professionals better understand symptoms and formulate a diagnosis.

From a practical point of view, MMPI-2 includes a broad assessment of the psychological state and possible psychopathologies of a person, which makes it widely used. In a more general context, such as the professional assessment of an employee, this test can be extremely useful. However, in a clinical setting, professionals need to be as careful as possible in interpreting its results. In particular, one should consider not only the indicators of the scales but also specific items that could describe the psychological characteristics of the participant.


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1. PsychologyWriting. "Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)." September 15, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/minnesota-multiphasic-personality-inventory-mmpi-2/.


PsychologyWriting. "Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)." September 15, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/minnesota-multiphasic-personality-inventory-mmpi-2/.