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Introduction to
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)


Interested in administration of the MMPI-2 for yourself or someone else? Click here.

For questions about obtaining the MMPI-2, or about qualifications to administer the test, please contact the test publisher, Pearson Assessments.


Many visitors to my site have asked about the MMPI. The MMPI, a standardized questionnaire developed at the University of Minnesota in 1940, is one of the most popular clinical psychology personality inventories in use today. Thousands of papers have been written with reference to this assessment instrument. The test was revised in the early 1990s, hence its new incarnation as the MMPI-2. There were some changes made in the question/items, but the primary change was in the standardization sample used. Since psychological traits are not written only in our genes, or laid down on stones of law, but fluctuate in normative content from culture to culture and historical period to historical period, it was necessary to update the population sample upon which the MMPI results were drawn. This is because MMPI interpretations are based upon actuarial methods, in which the overall pattern of test results is more important or predictive than any single question all by itself. Until the MMPI-2 was finished, the MMPI had been in danger of becoming obsolete, as it had been using the old actuarial information from a bunch of mostly white Minnesotans from the 1930s!

There are currently 567 items on the test. The scoring generates six validity scales and 10 basic clinical or personality scales. The latter are, in order, as follows: Hypochondriasis, Depression, Hysteria, Psychopathic Deviate, Masculinity-Femininity, Paranoia, Psychasthenia, Schizophrenia, Hypomania, and Social Introversion. I won't try to explain these scales, but refer you to the appropriate links below. These scales are interpreted based upon their scored elevation, and also in combination with each other. There are also a host of subscales, which have been created by various researchers over the years. There are for instance the test's own supplementary scales, the Harris-Lingoes subscales, and the Wiggins Content Scales, among others. Examples of subscale categories, drawn randomly from the above include Bizarre Mentation, Family Problems, Social Alienation, Need for Affection, Ego Strength, and Dominance.

The MMPI is used in a variety of settings. Its primary use is by the clinical psychologist who is trying to understand the psychiatric symptoms and personality characteristics of his or her patient or test subject. Another use is by researchers trying to correlate personality variables to types of illness, critical life events, habitual behaviors, or other psychological variables. But probably, after its clinical function, the most common use of the MMPI is in forensic settings, e.g., criminal hearings, workman's compensation evaluations, etc. The most controversial use of the MMPI is probably in personnel evaluation.

If you have taken the MMPI in the context of an employment screening and have questions or problems with the results, do not contact me, but take up the questions with the appropriate Human Resources Department. IF you really want more information, I suggest you go to the Google search engine and type in the following search term: "mmpi and employment screening".

Special populations. The MMPI-2 was standardized on a group of hundreds of people, which includes percentages of major ethnic/minority groups based upon the census breakdowns of those groups at the time (about ten years ago now). However, these groups of individuals did not include foreign populations. I think that the test is available in other languages, but the validity of this test outside the U.S. is questionable (though I believe there is a literature on this). Also, the MMPI-2 is for the use of adults, or those age 17 and above. Adolescents should probably be administered the relatively new MMPI-A, which is standardized on an adolescent population.

MMPI Links
Bob Gordon's MMPI Information Page -- Dr. Gordon is a diplomate in clinical psychology, and his page includes interesting information on content and interpretation of the MMPI.
Pearson Assessments -- the publisher of the MMPI-2 and MMPI-A, has good information on changes from the old MMPI, on standardization sample, etc.
The Caldwell Report -- Dr. Caldwell has been in the MMPI interpretation business a long time, and offers actuarially-based written interpretations by mail or modem.


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Last modified: February 23, 2005
Copyright 2002 Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.
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