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The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test, which is abbreviated as MMPI-2, is aimed at determining a person’s mental or psychological state. The test is, at times, employed by forensic experts while determining the state of mind of the offender at the time of the crime. It is vital in determining a person’s judgment, mood and perception towards life and deciding on the prescription and potential consequences.
This test is either done by a qualified mental health professional or a computer application. It should, however, not be used as a substitute for the clinical interview as some symptoms of the patient might emerge during the interview which can not be detected in the test. Through the interview it is possible to find out the medical history of the patient.
This test is usually composed of questions that require ‘true’ or ‘false’ answers. They are aimed at determining the state of mind of the respondent, his/her perspective towards issues and the current problems. This helps in finding the remedy for the existing problems.
The test targets adults who are above 18 years. It is preferred as it eliminates the aspects of respondents faking answers, hiding the problems or giving a certain impression. This is because the questions asked are not medical. The test is very significant in determining the psychological stability or instability of those professionals that are in high risk professions like pilots.
Administration of the test requires a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist. The results are put on a scale to help the psychologist determine whether the client is lying or genuine. The choice of the test construct is depended on the state of the client and the nature of the case.
It might differ in cases where the test is done for match making, while determining the mental health of the respondent, or during job screening. The test is usually directed at groups rather than individuals. It helps in singling out those members who have problems within a group. If some members are fatigued, they are identified and the appropriate recommendation given.
To carry out this test, the facilitator is expected to be a qualified medical practitioner in the issues concerning mental health and behavioral healthcare. A license is usually required. The practitioner has to be in a position to administer and interpret the MMPI-2 test. This test is basically an improvement of the MMPI-1 test.
After 1982, the University of Minnesota appointed a committee to help in the re-standardization of the MMPI-1test. This was to ensure more representation in the sampling of the population. There were some changes made on the items and wording of the MMPI-1 test, although efforts were made in ensuring that the changes were not significant as this would alter its interpretation.
The MMPI-2 test is composed of 567 questions that require the ‘true’ or ‘false,’ answers and this usually takes approximately 60-90 minutes to be answered. Various scoring scales are used in the test and they include the validity, content and clinical scales. After the 1989 revision, the validity scale changed to seven scales from the initial four.
When the respondent is unable to answer some questions, it might be due to unintentional omission or failure to understand the questions and the result is usually a lower test score. The MMPI-2 scales include the Lie (L) scale which indicates whether the person undertaking the test might be making an effort to present himself/herself in a different light than the actual case.
Another scale is the influency (F) scale which indicates an unusual response pattern. A higher score on the F-scale indicates a severe psychological problem. The correction (K) scale is also supposed to indicate if the person is trying to present a false picture of him or herself.
Some of the additional scales to the MMPI-2 test include the F back scale which is similar to the F scale. It indicates the typical response given by the respondent in the second part of the test. Another addition to the test is the Variable Response Inconsistency scale, abbreviated as VRIN. This scale indicates the inconsistency in similar items on the same scale.
Both items might either be marked as ‘true,’ ‘false,’ or one of them indicated as ‘true,’ and the other ‘false.’ The scale can easily be miss-scored. It is therefore recommended that computer scoring is used in such a case.
The final addition to the MMPI-2 inventory is the True Response Inconsistency (TRIN). This scale usually looks at the inconsistencies in the responses although it mainly focuses on the ‘true’ responses that are discriminately made or those that are just inconsistent. After determining the validity of the test, the user is supposed to go to the configuration and the basic (clinical) scale.
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The clinical scale is composed of the Hypochondriasis (Hs) scale, aimed at detecting symptoms associated with Hypochondriasis. It is aimed at pinpointing somatic obsessions or its symptoms. The Depression (D) scale on the other hand detects symptoms of depression, affective difficulties which can be associated with a negative perception to life and pessimism.
The Hysteria (Hy) scale is meant to detect hysterical symptoms whenever a person is stressed and they might be characterized by narcissism, denial and limited judgment. Psychopathic Deviance (Pd) scale detects aspects of aggression and rebellion in the respondent. All these are signs of anti-social behavior.
The fifth scale is the Masculinity – femininity (Mf) scale. This scale was aimed at pinpointing homosexual tendencies in the respondent. Currently it is used to detect the traditional masculinity or femininity behaviors or determine the person’s concerns on certain sexual beliefs.
The Paranoia or Pa-scale was developed with the intention of detecting feelings of paranoia within the respondent. These are mainly characterized by feelings of persecution, external locus of control or the general sensitivity. The Psychasthenia (Pt) scale is aimed at identifying the general symptom patterns of anxiety disorders like fear, obsessions and worry.
Schizophrenia scale on the other hand was developed for the diagnosis of Schizophrenia. High scores on this scale might be an indication that the person is living a schizoid lifestyle, is prone to psychotic intrusion or has peculiar perceptual experiences.
The Hypomania (Ma) scale is aimed at detecting affective instability in the respondent and identifying manic and hypomanic tendencies. The last one on the clinical scales is the Social Introversion (Si) scale. A high score on this scale is a clear indication of the person’s tendencies in withdrawing from social gatherings or other social situations.
Evidence of Reliability
There is a lot of information concerning the reliability and validity of the MMPI-2 test. If the population used was limited, to affirm the validity of the findings, a retest can be carried out and it should encompass a larger population. The retest can be done on a larger population over a longer period. This helps in ensuring consistency in the findings.
Validity is usually problematic, especially the construct validity. There might be incidences of overlap in the recurrence of scales with the same items being used on different scale. Issues of somatic disorders are likely to be categorized under schizophrenia and social introversion. This implies that due to the correlation of the scales, a lot of care needs to be taken before making conclusion.
An elevation in one score might definitely result in the elevation in the other. The test user has to be aware of the various multidimensional variables that are common in psychopathology.
People with various conditions are very likely to exhibit similar symptoms. A depressed person, for example, might show symptoms of stress, anxiety, and change in appetite. The test user is therefore expected to account for the overlap in these symptoms.
When the first test and a retest point to the same results, this is referred to as convergent validity. For this to be achieved, different population sizes and varieties should be used. For the results to be valid, the findings are supposed to support the hypothesis and parallel the previous findings.
When a similar style is used by the respondents, there is a correlation between the various conceptually aligned constructs. When the test is approached by the patients in an opposite manner, the conceptually aligned constructs are not correlated. The test interaction styles should therefore not be ignored.
The overlap in the items on the clinical scales is the main cause of weak discriminant validity in the MMPI-2 test. The Restructured Clinical scale was developed with the intention of reducing the overlap of items in the original clinical scale.
Experimental simulation is used when one test is used on a group of people who might not be suffering from any condition. A similar test is then carried out on a sample of patients who might be suffering from the particular condition under investigation. The findings are compared so as to determine the validity of the test.
The MMPI-2 test is a good measure to be undertaken while trying to determine the psychological and mental state of the respondents. This test is significant in understanding a person and this helps the test user to prescribe the most appropriate remedy to the affected person. The test also helps in determining the personality traits of the respondent.
This test has a larger research base and it is well understood by most psychologists. I would personally do this test because it is always done by a qualified psychologist or practitioner who has a deeper understanding of the test and its interpretation. Even in cases where the test is administered by the computer, it is always preceded by an interview carried out by the psychologist who then helps in the interpretation of the results.
A number of improvements can be made on this particular test. Some of them include the use of fewer items so as to reduce the overlap on the various scales some of which are usually misinterpreted hence resulting in the wrong diagnosis.
The user needs to find out about the medical background of the user before administering the test so as to ensure that all factors that contributed to the current situation are factored in. The items which are no longer relevant in determining the psychological state of the respondent should be scrapped off.
With the current technological advancements, research should be geared towards making this test available online so as to cater for those who cannot visit the psychologist physically. It should be designed in a way that after doing the online test the respondent can get an interpretation of the test by having a real-time video chat/conversation with the psychologist or the expert.
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