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Psychological assessment is a testing procedure that utilizes a variety of methods to affirm a particular hypothesis about an individual’s demeanor and abilities.
The process is also referred to as “psychological testing or conducting psychological battery on an individual and is often conducted by a licensed psychologist” (Katz & Sanders, 2013, p. 225). Psychological testing should never occur in vacuity.
Furthermore, to conduct a successful psychological assessment, a complete medical assessment should be included in the process so that the psychologists performing the test ascertain that the participants’ symptoms are not subject to ailments or medical issues.
Several instruments are applicable in determining personality, but this paper will focus on Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, MMPI and its application in determining women who were exposed to sexual violence in their childhood.
This paper delves into ethical issues surrounding this assessment and Gardner’s theory of intelligence. It will eventually analyze if MMPI is an effective instrument for identifying women who were exposed to sexual torture during their childhood.
Background of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
This instrument and its new second edition MMPI-2 is completed by a candidate, marked, and translated by the assessor. The examiner determines the participant’s personality by comparing the responses of the participant during the examination to those issued by several psychologists and relevant evaluation groups.
After evaluating the candidate’s response, the clinicians use the details to determine some uncertain facts about the patient’s adaptation, temperament, and qualities. Most psychologists prefer MMPI-2 to MMPI because it creates an extensive representative population for evaluation (Katz & Sanders, 2013).
John McKinley and Starke Hathaway developed MMPI in the 1930s. Under this instrument, participants are asked to respond to 566 false and true questions so that evaluation can be conducted easily. The initial intent of this assessment technique was to assist physicians identify young patients with mental ailments.
Textbooks, individuality examinations as well as psychologists’ reports were analyzed during the formulation of MPPI. The data collected from this analysis was categorized into ten clinical scales and every scale had distinguished diagnostic properties that had been applied in the 1930s.
As time progressed, the test developed to new versions because of the adjustments that were often witnessed in psychology (Nicholas, 2011).
Over the years, MMPI has been helpful in examining symptoms related to slow communal and individual adjustment, evaluating medial clients, formulation of treatment schedules for medical clients as well as in counseling college students as well as job seekers.
Furthermore, it has been popularly used in rehabilitation of drug addicts especially, when it comes to preparing a treatment plan (Elliott, 2008). Its application is also popular because its questions can relate with the contemporary patients and physicians and its scoring system can be adjusted.
Participants from various linguistic groups can conduct the test since it has been translated to English, Spanish, and Hmong among other languages. Moreover, its community comparative group embodies a large proportion of the modern populace.
Apart from community comparative sample comprising of 1,462 women and 1, 138 men, the sample is derived from assorted areas within the United States of America (Engels, Moisan & Harris, 1994).
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However, it is important to observe certain aspects when using this instrument especially MMPI-2. Though the tests may be monitored by a licensed clinician or psychiatrist, it is important to communicate to the patient before performing the assessment for impressive results.
Furthermore, a professional psychiatrist with experienced in using MMPI-2 must construe the test-taker’s answers. Whilst “narrative reports prepared in computers are considered as accurate, it is important to assess the contents by on-site experts to personalize the reported results” (Engels, Moisan & Harris, 1994, p. 137).
Computerized scoring as well as supposition is difficult to process and hence, the software programs applied must have a flawless history.
Irrespective of how comprehensive the details received from the examiner through the MMPI-2 may appear, it should never be considered as a proxy for clinical interrogations.
The clinical interrogations help the assessor to draw credible conclusions that fit the candidate from the various suppositions retrieved from test-taker’s responses. Moreover, physicians can notice vital characters of the patient that the test results did not identify.
It is thus important for the examiner to construe the test results after getting the biopsychological background of the candidate (Katz & Sanders, 2013).
When compared with the Gardener’s theory of intelligence, MMPI reveals notable relevance. MMPI infers that individuality is a multi-faceted occurrence whilst Gardener’s theory also presumes that intelligence is a multi-faceted incidence and hence, showing that intelligence and personality are intertwined (Elliott, 2008).
According to Gardner hypothesis, intelligence falls into eight classes including interpersonal and musical whilst in MMPI, personality is divided into 10 clinical scales. These clinical degrees are an embodiment of the idiosyncrasies present in the classes of Gadner’s description of intelligence.
Some of the clinical scales of MMPI comprise of social nervousness, paranoia, depression and hypomania among others (Elliott, 2008).
The definition of interpersonal intelligence is having the aptitude to comprehend the skills, inspiration and skills of other individuals coupled with how to interact with them effectively. Respected leaders and professionals are people who have a high level of interpersonal intelligence.
In case they suffered from hypomania or depression, it would directly lower their interpersonal intelligence as well as MMPI marks. The clinical measurements symbolize deviations in the theory of intelligence and if a person is affected by the deviations, not every class of his or her intelligence is affected (Engels, Moisan & Harris, 1994).
According to a number of studies conducted in the recent years, certain MMPI scores reveal whether a woman was sexually molested in their childhood or not. The examinations affirmed that women who experienced sexual abuse in their childhood always received high marks in specific clinical scales.
Victims of sexual molestation often had higher scores than the community comparison group when it came to responding to questions related to dejection, psychopathic digresses, and hypochondriasis.
The personality and behavioral traits of women with such disheartening background comprised of antipathy, feelings of despair, mistrust, unsociable, confrontational, low self-confidence, anxiety and did not believe in the existence of long-lasting relationships (Katz & Sanders, 2013).
Although the researches had disparate target and controlled populace, the results of MMPI scores successfully distinguished the targeted group from the controlled populations.
In another the study, the normative group had 25 women who never had a history of sexual molestation whilst the target group comprised of 26 women who were admitted that they were sexually abused when they were children.
However, the limitations of this study were that all the participants were below the age of fifty and had a yearly income below $100, 000. Furthermore, none of the candidates came from another race except white with English as their native language. The least educated participant in the study was a high school graduate (Elliott, 2008).
Another study used the updated form of MMPI, viz. MMPI-2, which collects 1,138 men and 462 women residing in different parts of America and with a minimum age of 18 and a maximum 80 years as its participants.
This revised form of MPPI was extensive in nature as it incorporated people from various ethnic communities, topographical locations, socioeconomic status, marital status as well as religious beliefs (Nicholas, 2011).
Although this second study used the MMPI-2 assessment instrument, all the participants were Caucasians, with a maximum age of sixty and a maximum income of $30,000 on an annual basis. In the third research, neither the control group nor the community comparison group was utilized when evaluating the response of the test-takers.
The participants comprised of women below the age of 53 and married. Moreover, the women were native English speakers, white, and underwent a medical therapy tests before participating in the assessment (Follette et al., 1997).
Despite the disparities witnessed when conducting researches, they recorded similar marks in the MMPI test. There target population did also not represent the entire society. The studies infer that MMPI is only effective in identifying individuals who have been sexually molested but it should never be used as a diagnostic instrument.
These studies had common limitations. Apart from the participants only being from a single gender, they were derived from a particular ethnic group and they were only native English speakers.
The least level of education that was preferred by the researchers was a high school diploma and they were biased when in the selection of age, as most participants were 53 years old or below.
Since the MPPI instrument excluded a huge portion of the populace in the assessment, it implies that the results of specific community may typify the childhood sexual molestation however, if the test is applied on an individual excluded in the controlled population, MPPI could false information about the client’s sexual abuse history (Elliott, 2008).
The psychometric characteristics of this instrument when applied in a specific controlled population, the outcomes were analogous. Victims of sexual abuse recorded an average of 15 points according to how they responded to question related to dejection, psychopathic digress as well as hypochondriasis.
The psychometrics did not effectively exemplify the type and amount of therapy the clients underwent prior to the assessment. The magnitude of therapy can highly manipulate the outcome of the MMPI assessment because therapy averts some of the feelings that childhood sexual abuse victims have (Katz & Sanders, 2013).
Irrespective of how effective MMPI may appear in identifying sex abuse victims, it should not be used to assess a whole society. Perhaps the success of MMPI in these studies was promoted by the fact that the researchers focused on white women who were educated and had high socioeconomic status.
This aspect raises many questions such as what would have been the impact if the controlled population and normative group represented an entire society. A society is composed of people with different personality, beliefs, and socioeconomic status.
It is hence, predictable that these factors would have influenced the results of the MMPI scores. If researchers and medical experts eliminate these biases so that their participants represent almost every individual in the society, then using MMPI as an instrument of identifying victims of childhood sexual abuse will be reliable (Follette et al., 1997).
The morality of MMPI is not in doubt. This instrument is ethical since it possesses numerous disparities that represent a particular community. It is also written in various formats and the tests are contemporarily prepared to fifth grade reading standard thus enabling many people to participate in the tests easily.
Moreover, it accommodates test-takers who speak other languages apart from English.
The tests are in a manner that candidates as well as examiners can easily understand. Nonetheless, ethical issues that are not comprehensively tackled by this assessment instrument include the conduct of the clinicians when providing the tests or the incidence whereby a patient may be given a format that is unpleasant to him or her (Nicholas, 2011).
Moreover, there is an ethical issue, which is important but has not been considered, viz. the probability of a clinician using the test for diagnostic purposes instead of analysis.
It is important for clinician, psychologists and researchers to note that MMPI was developed and structured in a way that it aids examiners with essential information, which can be used to counsel the test-taker on the best decision he or she can make concerning a particular issue; for instance, a job or treatment plan (Katz & Sanders, 2013).
Clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical experts use the data collected from psychological tests to create a detailed and full image of the patient. Administers of the assessments often issue recommendations depending on the results of the tests and information retrieved from friends and family members of the candidate.
Medical experts should evaluate and tackle all differences that exist in the findings before drawing a conclusion. Nevertheless, there is no assessment that is flawless when it comes to identifying a person’s behavior or past.
MMPI is among the best instrument for personality assessment that can be used to determine childhood sexual abuse victims. However, there are certain adjustments that should be made concerning ethical considerations to make it even a better instrument for personality assessment.
Elliott, M A. (2008). The Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory (MMPI-2 and MMPI-A) and victims of childhood sexual abuse: A review of the literature. Journal of Professional Counseling: Practice, Theory & Research, 36(2), 25-37.
Engels, M., Moisan, D., & Harris, R. (1994). MMPI indices of childhood trauma among 110 female outpatients. Journal of Personality Assessment, 63(1), 135-39.
Follette, W., Naugle, E., & Follette, V. (1997). MMPI-2 profiles of adult women with child sexual abuse histories: Cluster-analytic findings. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 858-866.
Katz, S., & Sanders, J. (2013). The overuse and misuse of psychological testing: Why less is more. American Journal of Family Law, 28(4), 221-226.
Nicholas, D. (2011). Essentials of MMPI-2 Assessment. New Jersey, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.