In mental health, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) qualifies to be one of the most frequently employed personality tests. Trained professionals use the MMPI tool in the identification of psychopathology and personality structures. In 1930’s, J. C. McKinley and Starke R. Hathaway developed the MMPI at the University of Minnesota where it was copyrighted. In today’s world, the MMPI is among the frequently researched personality tests in existence. Even if this type of personality test is not perfect, it remains to be a valuable tool used in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. Many years after the MMPI was first published, researchers and clinicians started to question its accuracy in diagnosing and assessing mental illness. Critics noticed that there was inadequacy in the original sample group. Others believed that the test contained racist and sexist questions, while others contended that the results of MMPI showed possible test bias. Due to these negative perceptions of MMPI, it needed revision (Graham, 2006).
All these negative issues regarding the unreliability of MMPI resulted into its alteration in the late 1980’s. Most of the questions were reworded or completely removed while there was an addition of many new questions. In addition, there was an incorporation of new validity scales in the new test. According to Graham (2006), in 1989, the revised edition was released as the MMPI-2. The test received another revision in 2001, and it is a clinical assessment test that is frequently used. Because the University of Minnesota copyrighted the MMPI-2, clinicians are required to pay to utilize the test. The currently used MMPI-2 is comprised of 567 test items, in a format of true-or-false, and usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete depending on the level of reading. The MMPI is always administered, scored as well a interpreted by a trained professional such as a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist. So that the MMPI is most effective, it should be used jointly with other instruments of assessment. It is not advisable for the diagnosis to be made purely on the outcomes of an MMPI test. The current MMPI-2 can be used on individuals or groups of people and its computerized versions are now available. This test is administered to individuals who are eighteen years or older. The scoring of the test items can be done either by computer or by hand, but the interpretation of the results should always be done by a mental health professional that is highly qualified in the MMPI-2 interpretation. So as to indicate a variety of psychotic conditions, MMPI uses its ten scales, namely hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviate, masculinity/femininity, paranoia, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, hypomania, and social introversion (Groth-Marnat, 2009).
In spite of the names assigned to each scale, they don’t qualify as a pure measure because the symptoms of many conditions overlap and therefore most psychologists use number when referring to each scale (Groth-Marnat, 2009). Scale 1 was designed to evaluate neurosis as far as bodily functioning is concerned. This scale is comprised of 32 items and these items are concerned with somatic symptoms as well as physical well being. Initially the scale meant to identify patients exhibiting the signs and symptoms of hypochondoria. Scale 2 was originally meant to identify depression which was characterized by despair, poor morale, and general dissatisfaction with an individual’s own life situation. Highest scores may be an indication of depression, but moderate scores may indicate general dissatisfaction with an individual’s own life. Scale 3 was meant to identify individuals displaying hysteria during stressful situations. The hhigh social class and well educated individuals tend to attain higher scores on this scale. Also in this scale, women’s scores tend to be higher as compared men’s scores. Scale 4 was designed to measure social deviation, amorality, and lack of acceptance of authority. More rebellious individuals tend to score highest, while those who accept the authority tend to score lowly. Higher scorers are thought to have personality disorders.
Scale 5 was designed to identify homosexual propensities, but was detected to be ineffective. Women are usually low scorers on this scale. Higher scores are associated with factors such as education, intelligence and social-economic status. Scale 6 was designed to identify individuals with symptoms of paranoia such as feelings of persecution, excessive sensitivity, suspiciousness, and rigid attitudes. Individuals with paranoid symptoms score highly. Scale 7 was meant to identify those individuals with excessive compulsions, fears, obsessions, and doubts. Scale 8 was designed to identify patients with schizophrenia. Interpretation of this scale requires well qualified professionals because it is considered difficulty. Scale 9 was designed to identify individuals with characteristics of hypomania for example irritability, elevated mood, and flight of ideas. Scale 10 was designed to evaluate an individual’s propensity to withdraw from social responsibilities and contacts.
The MMPI personality testing instrument is very important since it covers the diagnosis of a variety of psychological disorders. Of the ten scales most scales are very effective in the identification of individuals with psychological disorders. The testing instruments are cheaper, ease to use and takes a short time for an individual to complete a test. Therefore the MMPI has contributed positively to psychological testing in the 21st century.