What is the MMPI-2?
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory 2 (MMPI-2) is a complex personality test. It consists of:
- 567 true/false questions that weigh in on different scales to determine your personality.
- Questions to ensure your answer's validity.
This test is used in many different ways, some more controversial than others, including:
- Diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
- Criminal defense.
- Custody battles.
- Evaluating the usefulness of drug treatment programs.
- Screening candidates for government jobs, including police officers and firemen.
However, the MMPI-2 has many flaws and weaknesses that can skew the results, making the test unfair and in some cases inaccurate.
Note: This article is based on my personal opinion of the MMPI. Differing viewpoints can be read at the bottom of this article in the comments section. (Other than spam, I do not delete comments.)
The MMPI-2 Generalises
The main flaw in the MMPI 2 is that it generalises. For instance, one of the questions is:
If you could be invisible when you wanted, would you go to the movies?
I answered no, which the test counted as a lie, because apparently everybody in the world would scam a free movie if they could. These such generalisations are a flaw of the test, because a person's personality can be easily mis-measured by using yes/no tick boxes.
There are several other examples of the MMPI-2 assuming too much based on a single question, but I have decided to not include any more questions in this article for ethical and copyright reasons. You'll have to take my word for it, or do your own research.
"Studying" for the MMPI-2
If somebody really wants to pass, they can find the MMPI online. While researching the MMPI 2, I went on a mission to find the test for free online. I had little hope of being able to, since the MMPI-2 is only supposed to be administered by psychologists and other professionals. However, within an hour or two, I had managed to dig up from various sources on the internet.
This means that If I wanted to, I could have used those sources to study for the test and get a perfect result. Anybody could, if they are determined enough. It wouldn't even take that long to get the gist of what the "right" answer is to pass the MMPI-2.
That is another problem I have with the MMPI 2 test: It can "fail" perfectly good people, but still wouldn't be able to keep the major creepers and scammers out. We all know that these people exist. In fact, while on my quest to find the MMPI-2 online, I noticed several of them on various forum websites. These include people who have used online resources to manipulate the MMPI-2 into obtaining custody of a child, or becoming a police officer. Isn't that a frightening thought? That the MMPI-2 will keep out police officers honest enough to not watch movies for free if they could, but that real scaries can still get in.
How Does the MMPI-2 Work?
The MMPI-2 works by asking you multiple choice questions. Each answer gains you points on different scales, such as depression and paranoia. If you earn too many points on some scales, they may cross the normal threshold.
There are also validity scales that attempt to detect if you are not telling the truth, such as:
- The lie scale (questions like the movies question)
- The infrequency scale (for example, if different answers to the same question are worded slightly differently).
Tips If You Take the MMPI-2
- Don't lie to make yourself look better. You will most likely be caught.
- Don't overthink your answers too much. The minute you start trying to think about why they're asking every single question and what answer they want, you'll start stressing and making mistakes. Especially because some questions are really obscure (for instance, one of the very first questions is about whether or not you like mechanics magazines).
- Just be honest and hope it works out. I think that while test has its flaws and in some cases it can be wrong (which makes me dislike it), it can still yield fairly accurate results other times.
Deb on April 06, 2017:
I took the rest recently and it came back marginally invalid- like I was trying to present a better me than I am. So was given a different test which produced similar results. Because the results description of both were so opposite of who I really am, I give very little credibility and validity to the test and the interpretation. It appears that you have to be in utter denial if you score too high in the virtuous scale. Very weird how normal / average is determined.
Mr Nice Guy on August 02, 2016:
I took this test once and did pass but my god was it boring and half way through my only thought was just answering the questions as fast as I could to get it over with. By the end, I wasn't even reading the whole question.
Doug on January 19, 2016:
I've taken the test three times. Once passing, once being screened for secondary interview, and once passing... The whole thing seems very subjective, generalized and ridiculous to me. Answering a question saying you wouldn't do something wrong if you knew you wouldn't get caught isn't lying if you honestly wouldn't... To me it's like flipping a coin to see if someone can get a job or not. It's f'd.
Laura on September 22, 2014:
To this day I am very frightened by this test, for lack of a better word. I answered every single question honestly and my validitaty score was way off based to over reporting meaning I reported more problems than people with severe mental health problems including the worst of the worst like sociopaths. When I took the test, my psychologist said because of the vlaidity score, the results weren't valid. I questioned her until she finally spit out in plain english what that meant. I went home immediately and found the test online and proceeded to answer the questions the same way so I could see for myself. Not once was I lying so I continued to look what my answers meant besides over reporting sympoms and I'm pretty sure I'm just "divergent" again, for a lack of a better word. I go to counseling for depression and a big problem in my life is feeling so different compared to others which I know is common with depression. Anyways, I'm going into too much detail but basically the test said I was lying but since I wasn't lying, I'm really a psycho.
Joanna from Wilseyville on August 15, 2014:
Wow Jason, excellent explanation of the how the test works. Well put. Thank you!
SR on August 12, 2014:
The claim that a single response means anything is inaccurate. The MMPI scales generally have 25-70 items.
Jason on May 29, 2014:
The question about whether or not you could be invisible is not an automatic lie if you select never. What determines if it is a lie or not is based upon how you answered the other questions related to how you would act. The MMPI asks a lot of questions like...."people are generally honest" in which how you answer really indicates how you view yourself. If you view people as mostly being dishonest, this is because you are dishonest, and you project how you are onto others etc. People have a tendency to think that everyone else thinks like they do etc. So when you answer questions about yourself, attempting to reveal yourself as mostly honest, trustworthy etc, but you view everyone else as dishonesty untrustworthy etc you are confessing an inconsistency and it triggers points on the lie scale as a result.
kateperez from pasadena, tx on May 04, 2014:
I have taken extensive coursework that included administering and scoring the MMPI-2. There are always ways to "fool" such a personality assessment, but the science and research that went into this assessment only works if the person honestly answers all questions.
It sounds like your personal opinion and bias about one single assessment has given you a distinct viewpoint that you have written here as fact.
No single assessment should ever be used to determine one's personality, their potential, or their job. Anyone who performs a single assessment on a person is not doing their job properly. Once an interpretation has been done on a person, the psychologist (as only psychologists are given the ability to properly administer and score these) should also suggest other personality assessments as well.
One single answer cannot determine if you are a sociopath, a psychopath, bi-polar, or lesbian/gay. It does not work that way.
Have you administered and scored the MMPI-2? I have done it by computer and by hand. It is a very extensive and well-researched assessment. One's personal opinion of such an assessment is narrow in scope and does not help anyone who truly should take this (and other) personality tests to get the help they need.
Ph.D. Candidate Counseling and Assessments in Psychology
Brille on August 14, 2013:
"Yeah, my gut instinct to that question was no because I assumed it was asking a preference question - similar to the "do you like mechanics magazines". I suppose that's why I tested as a sociopath on this test."
the scales have names that stem from the construction of the test many years ago. An elevated Psycopathic Deviate score does NOT mean the test calls you a psycopath. It is healthy to have an elevated PD because it means you stand up for yourself. THis test is not easy to interpret and should not be used in the court of law as "evidenve" per se. It is, however, meant to be useful in clinical settings where it can enrich understanding of patients beyond the flawed diagnoses which are far less reliable and valid in many cases. All the best.
Steveholt on March 03, 2013:
Hi. Don't suppose you'd share that link with me? :) I've been trying to find a way to take the mmpi anonymously due to an impending custody fight.
invisi-girl on February 28, 2013:
Yeah, my gut instinct to that question was no because I assumed it was asking a preference question - similar to the "do you like mechanics magazines". I suppose that's why I tested as a sociopath on this test. And by the way, I'm not just a sociopath, but apparently a "deeply religious" one. Yeah, figure that one out.
I'm not sure how those two statements are even congruent, but then again I don't like to go to the movies when I'm invisible so we already know how messed up I am. But seriously, apparently part of what let them to that conclusion was that I put down that people will generally help you if they can - even if it's not necessarily in their own self-interest to do so. At the time that was not only true of myself, but I was surrounded by really wonderful people and genuinely could say from my experience that at lot of my friends & even many of my acquaintances would drop anything to help someone in need. I regularly would drive way out of my way to get someone a ride. Would pick up an extra shift at work to help a friend make rent. And so forth. And I had plenty of friends who had no problem just giving things away to people in need (including me a few times). I realize now that not everyone - in fact not even most people - is so generous with their time, money & energy. But I've kept in touch with many of those friends to this day & that statement still largely holds up. They are an inspiration to me. They remind me that Jesus came down from Heaven & sacrificed so much for us so I don't need to consider it odd when I want to do likewise or when I see that same behavior modeled in others.
I think it's kinda sad, to be perfectly honest, that this test was normed on such cynical people. Honestly, the few people I knew who were psychology majors were the ones who made me doubt humanity. And that perception hasn't changed much with all my contacts with the mental health field. There have certainly be positive exceptions, but it's been my experience that some, at least, want to take away your faith in God & faith in humanity and exchange it for "faith in yourself". Well, they shredded what little faith I had in myself with that horrible label so if God and humanity fall through, I guess there's no hope at all.
Kristy Callan (author) from Australia on November 01, 2012:
annon- Because then you could turn invisible to sneak into the cinema, and definitely not get caught.
annon on October 31, 2012:
What does being able to be invisible at will have to do with going to the movies?
JOSE2896 on July 23, 2012:
I just took this test for a big lawenforcement dept and I failed it! I retook it online and I've seen where I had failed. According to the online resaults because I answered yes to questions like, did you misbave in school, where you sent to the principle's office all the time, were you arrested as a juvenile and so on. It said I was anti social and depressed which its not true at all. So I was allowed to appeal so I did and retook the test but this time I answered no. So lets see how it goes. What do you guys think the out come will be?
Elliexoxo on July 22, 2012:
My psychologist (whom I see for anxiety) let me take this test for fun because I like taking tests and learning about psychology as well as getting insight on myself. I see how it can be a bad thing as some are seeing or innacurate, etc. but mine was actually strikingly accurate, and it actually helped me understand myself some more and verified some things I kind of suspected about myself but didn't know how to explain/how you'd categorize them etc. So for some people out there it can be a positive thing, you know?
Joanna from Wilseyville on July 10, 2012:
Your right it really is up to the evaluator how he/she interprets the results. Humans want to think they can be unbiased, but its really impossible to be completely unbiased. There's a research site that studies such things as our unconscious mind and what its thinking compared to what we "think" we are thinking https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/. Its free and easy to join the study. You might be surprised at what you find.
Kristy Callan (author) from Australia on July 08, 2012:
I think the test could be easily beaten by a socio/psychopath... it's possible to find the MMPI test online (as well as question by question in-depth analysis). It's probably hard to make any test impossible to beat though. Thank you for your comments, robinadair!
robinadair on July 06, 2012:
Thank you, Doctor Kristy, for publishing this information. It is very valuable. Anyone contemplating taking the test, or compelled to do so, should read this information first.
robinadair on July 06, 2012:
I wonder if the test could be fooled by a socio/psychopath. A sociopath is a chronic liar who can beat a lie detector test. Also, it isn't the test that "needs to be tossed" it's the "psych"/evaluator that is human and often - biased.
Kristy Callan (author) from Australia on May 14, 2012:
How interesting... I didn't know that even if you do test as "normal" that they sometimes write stuff like that you "could have beat the test". To me, that seems like an admission that they realise it has significant flaws. (Of course, I'm not saying that was relevant in your case. Just generally speaking.)
Thanks for commenting, Msmillar!
Joanna from Wilseyville on May 13, 2012:
That test needs to be tossed! When I tested "normal" the psych wrote "keep in mind she could have beat the test". When my ex scored high in the "narcissistic disorder" department he barely mentioned it like a side-note. Five figures later and the report was mere kindling for the fire. For some people the test can wreck havoc on their life. Thanks for speaking up about it!! It starts with one!
Kristy Callan (author) from Australia on May 11, 2012:
Thank you for commenting, mariale2003!
Kristy Callan (author) from Australia on May 11, 2012:
Reptillian- I sure hope that the crazies would get weeded out in the next stage.
And I agree totally, these things should only ever be used as indicators, rather than perfect. One good thing the MMPI-2 has going for it though is that because of the "points system", it means that to be outside normal range on any of the scales would require more than one "wrong" answer.
Haha, I'm sure you'd make a world-class magician!
mariale2003 on May 11, 2012:
Very interesting!!!...I would answer no to the free movie thing too, funny, they know how catch lies!!!
Reptillian from South Dakota on May 11, 2012:
It's never a good idea to put too much stock in these types of psychological tests. Tests measuring things like intelligence, creativity, personality, and other types of non quantifiable quantities should be considered estimators. I'm sure the crazies that "pass" the test get weeded out in interviews and during job training.
I would have said no to the free movie thing too. If I could turn invisible, I'd have more important things to do. I'd make one heck of a secret agent or magician. I can think of millions of things that invisibility would be good for, and getting a free movie is very low on my list.