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Should the MMPI Be Utilized to Diagnose PatientsResearch Paper

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MMPI -- A is a standardized psychometric test that has been in use for more than 25 years. While it has undergone revision numerous times and been expanded and shortened, it is still effective in identifying disorders and assisting in treatments. It is used on adolescents aged 14 to 18 and is to be applied to the patient presented in this case, who is an 18-year-old in college, suffering from depressive episodes and hypermanic episodes, suggesting a bi-polar disorder. This paper discusses the origins of the MMPI as well as three studies that have utilized it for various studies and what they found. This paper also explains the purpose of the test and how it is effective and why it should be used in this case. It concludes with a discussion of how this test as well as others are never full-proof even if they are validated over time because of the participation of the human factor, which can always be misled in terms of cooperating fully.

Table of Contents

Introduction 4

The MMPI 5

Three Studies 6

Synthesis 7

Conclusion 9

References 11



The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test is a standardized psychometric test that is used in psychology to gauge personality type and to help with diagnosis of personality disorder, such as bi-polar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, etc. It is also helpful in determining the type of treatment that a patient would most benefit from (Butcher, Williams, 2009). A version of the test has been developed for adolescents, aged 14 to 18, and it is called MMPI -- A (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory -- Adolescent Version), and it is this test which will be used for the patient presented here.

The person chosen for this test is an 18-year-old college student named Jared. Jared is a young man who has been brought in for presentation as a request of the university where he attends classes. A good student, Jared has recently been demonstrating behavior that appears to be at odds with his character: he has been staying up extra hours, playing video games, feeling sad for long stretches, followed by feelings of hyper-activity and euphoria; and most recently he stole a car from another student who left it idling in front of a dorm. Jared did not view it as stealing but rather as taking the car for a test drive (and he had every intention of returning it to the same spot -- which he did, only to be arrested by campus police). Because the behavior was so out of the norm and the student whose car was stolen did not wish to press charges, the university thought it best to have Jared tested for diagnosis as well as for treatment. Jared is not very forthcoming with information upon presentation and what is known about him comes by way of parents, teachers, and administrators, all of whom are concerned about Jared's behavior. Jared himself does not see why he should be there and he does not think there is anything wrong. The university has asked for an MMPI test so as to see what sort of treatment might best benefit Jared.

The purpose of this test as described by its publisher (the University of Minnesota -- the authors were Hathaway and McKinley) was to provide an atheoretical approach to diagnosis; in other words, it could be used to identify meaningful personality traits that would stand out regardless of theory. The MMPI was eventually replaced by the MMPI-2, which was updated to correct the limitations of the original test. There has also been a variation of the MMPI for adolescents developed as well as a "restructured form" of the MMPI-2. Using a variety of clinical scales and validity scales, the test can measure for signs ranging from hypomania to paranoia.


The MMPI-2 has been shown to be demonstrably valid, correcting the defects in the original MMPI. The sample size for the test was much larger and therefore more representative and today it includes over 550 items and requires over an hour for completion (Gass, Odland, 2014). The standardized sample of the MMPI-2 was 2,600 persons with an age range of over 18 and up. Studies are still being conducted, however, to test the psychometric properties of the MMPI-2 and to what degree the scales utilized produce valid results (Handel, Archer, Elkins, Mason, Simonds-Bisbee, 2011).

The MMPI was also adapted to be used for adolescents from ages 14-18 and this is called the MMPI-A. It was published in 1992 by the University of Minnesota, authored by Butcher, Williams, Graham, Archer, Tellegen, Ben-Porath, and Kaemmer (1992). The standardized sample for this study consisted of 805 males and 815 females between the ages of 14 and 18 from 8 different U.S. schools, plus 420 males and 293 females between the ages of 14 and 18 from various treatment centers in Minneapolis. A t-score transformation method of scoring was utilized and 478 items measured using 10 clinical scales, six validity scales, fifteen content component scales, 31 Harris Lingoes scales, PSY-5 scales, 3 social introversion scales, and six supplementary scales. It is this study which is used for Jared, since he is 18 and shows signs of personality disorder and is unwilling to divulge information about himself directly through communication with a counselor (Butcher et al., 1992).

Three Studies

The first study by Pinsoneault (2014) examines the cutoffs for detecting random and non-random protocols in the short form MMPI-A. The purpose of this article was to determine whether the short form of the test was more effective in determining partially random protocols, and the use of an algorithm designed to utilize alternative cutoffs for scales and subscale was effective in identifying 95% of all random protocols, 87% of half-randoms, and 98% of non-random protocols. The study's finding were confirmed in a cross-validation study, and the sample size include 750 samples. This study is helpful in this study because it highlights the continuous evolution of the usage of the MMPI -- an over time and how its methods are constantly being refined in identifying aspects of personality for treatment.

The second study by Stokes, Pogge and Zaccario (2013) examines the response character styles in adolescents and discusses the validity similarities between MMPI -- A and the Rorschach test. This study uses a sample of 673 adolescents and compares results of the two tests and shows that there is a correlation between them. For example, both point out elements of psychosis, distress, and other signs in adolescents. The validity and reliability of the test is also shown to be reasonable as patterns of examination results are compared with diagnoses and external variables. The study is helpful here because it indicates that this test would be useful in examining and treating Jared.

The third study by Murray, Glaser and Calhoun (2013) examines the use of the MMPI -- A in detecting trauma symptoms in juvenile delinquents. The study used a sample of 642 juveniles in detention centers across the U.S. to determine if traumatized youths responded differently to the MMPI -- A than non-traumatized youths. The findings confirmed that they do respond differently. This study's approach is validated by the fact that a scale to measure trauma can be incorporated into the MMPI-A. This study is helpful for this study because it shows that the MMPI -- A can be utilized to gauge incidences of treatment that have not been determined by past clinicians dealing with adolescents. It shows that this test is useful, too, in applying it in the case of Jared, whose personality is affected by something under the surface.


Psychological testing regards the tests used to measure the behavior of individuals via a standardized set of questions. The tests range in focus, from identifying/measuring aptitude, emotional development, and personality to cognition and more. The term test refers to the instrument used to give a measurement of latent elements/variables that an individual possesses that would otherwise go unnoticed or unknown. The test is the tool whereby the unknown becomes known; just as a ruler gives the measurer a sense of distance, so too does the test give the measurer a sense of the latency within. In the case of the MMPI-A, it can be used to judge whether an adolescent is experiencing some form of psychological disorder based on criteria associated within the question-response framework.

While the major categories of tests can be divided into the following based on assumptions about what they tell about the takers, the MMPI -- A is unique because it utilizes a diversity of scales that get to heart of psychological disorder. Others measure only personality type, intelligence, etc. For instance, there are IQ tests which are designed to measure one's intellectual capacity; these are typically used in schools and by individuals interested in gauging their intellectual "level." There are attitude tests designed to measure personal feelings/emotions regarding a specific subject (commonly measured using the Likert scale -- a simple 1 to 5… [END OF PREVIEW]

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