Development of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Essay Sample

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The Development of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory In understanding the development of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), one needs to comprehend the specifics behind the personality inventory. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is classified as a personality assessment. A personality assessment is the collecting and combination of psychological data intended to make an evaluation completed through the utilization of apparatuses, e.g., tests, case studies, interviews, behavioral observation, and designed tools and measurement procedures (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010). Psychological assessment should not be confused with psychological testing. One uses psychological testing while conducting a psychological assessment. Psychological testing is the procedure of measuring psychological variables through tools designed to acquire a sample of behavior (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010). This paper will explore the historical roots of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), explain its significance, and analyze how it has affected the development of psychological testing in the 21st century.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a psychological examination that evaluates personality characteristics, temperament, behavior, and psychopathology. It is aimed to analyze individuals who may struggle with mental illnesses or other medical problems. The MMPI is the most frequently used evaluation by psychological specialists to evaluate and detect mental disorders. This assessment has also been used in other areas beyond clinical psychology. For example, the MMPI has often been applied in legal situations, such as custody questioning and illegal defenses along with screening instruments for certain occupations. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is furthermore implemented to analyze the success of treatment facilities, e.g., rehabilitation for substance abuse. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory contains 567 true/false statements. It is created with 10 clinical scales that measure 10 main categories of abnormal behavior.

The MMPI is also created with four validity scales. The validity scales measures an individual’s overall test-taking approach and accuracy of answers given. The clinical scales include Hyopchondriasis (Hs), depression (D), hysteria (Hy), psychopathic deviate (Pd), masculinity/femininity (Mf), Paranoia (Pa), Psychasthenia (Pt), Schizophrenia (Sc), Hypomania (Ma), and Social Inversion (Si). The validity scales include lie (L), F, back F (Fb ), and K (Butcher et al, 1995). The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was established around 1939 by Starke R. Hathaway, PhD and J.C. McKinley, MD at the University of Minnesota. After several assessments, the MMPI was first issued in the early 1940s. Since its start, numerous addendums and variations have been prepared over time. According to Harkness et al. (2012), the most notable, important developmental changes occurred in 1989, 2003, and 2008. In 1989, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory became the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. This resulted because of a major restandardization project that was started to produce a completely different set of data demonstrating present population features.

The restandardization project generated a sizeable catalogue that comprised a widespread collection of clinical and non-clinical samples. In 2003, a reconstructed clinical scale was added to MMPI-2. This addition was intended to address known psychometric flaws that complicated how one interprets the data and validity. MMPI-2-RF was published in 2008. This reconstructed form utilized refined statistical evaluation techniques that shaped the reconstructed clinical scales. Prior to the start of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, psychologists were not included in psychological treatment. The main roles of the psychologist were to manage tests and diagnose individuals. During this time, the best test was the projective test. Projective test offered individuals answers to vague sights, words, or pictures. These tests developed from the psychoanalytic theories. The psychoanalytic theories proposed that individuals have unconscious thoughts, urges, and drives.

While projective tests were beneficial at the time, there were many limitations. Individuals’ responses could be greatly swayed by the assessor’s actions or views. It could also be swayed by the test setting. Scoring projective tests can be extremely biased. Understandings of responses can differ significantly between assessors. The creation of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was an effort to produce a more unbiased assessment. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was one of the leading assessments to use empirical criterion keying. “Empirical criterion keying refers to an approach to test development that emphasizes the section of items that discriminate between normal individuals and members of different diagnostic groups, regardless of whether the items appears theoretically relevant to the diagnoses of interest,” (Psychology Glossary, 2012, pp. 1). The use of empirical criterion keying positively affected the development of psychological testing in the 21st century. Previous assessments were founded on abstract concepts of symptoms and casual sources of disruption.

To create empirical criterion keying, Hathaway and McKinley composed an extensive variety of true/false reports. The reports were administered to two groups: individuals struggling with mental illnesses and individuals not struggling with mental illnesses. The test was administered to two groups to determine which items distinguished the individuals struggling with mental illnesses. Once results were obtained, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was applied to make initial diagnoses of common psychiatric conditions (Butcher et al, 1995). The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory has greatly assisted in how psychological testing and assessments are performed. This specific assessment allows an assessor to formulate some possible assumptions about an individual’s normal actions, behaviors, and thought processes. In the psychological field, these assessment results assist psychologists in determining an individual’s attitude toward life, mood, and possible complications in treatment. Outside the psychological field, these results can be useful to employers screening potential employees and insurance companies issuing benefits. Overall, the MMPI provides unbiased information established from well-documented national norms.


Butcher, J. N., Graham, J. R., & Ben-Porath, Y. S. (1995). Methodological problems and issues in MMPI, MMPI-2, and MMPI-A research. Psychological Assessment, 7(3), 320-329. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.7.3.320 Cohen, R. J., & Swerdlik, M. E. (2010). Psychological testing and assessment: An introduction to tests and measurement (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Harkness, A. R., Finn, J. A., McNulty, J. L., & Shields, S. M. (2012). The Personality Psychopathology—Five (PSY–5): Recent constructive
replication and assessment literature review. Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 432-443. doi:10.1037/a0025830 Psychology Glossary. 2012. Empirical criterion keying. Retrieved from

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