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Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

Gathers information on personality, attitudes, and mental health.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is a test used to gather information on personality, attitudes, and mental health of persons aged 16 or older and to aid in clinical diagnosis. It consists of 556 true-false questions, with different formats available for individual and group use. The MMPI is untimed and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to complete. This is normally done in a single session, but can be extended to a second session if necessary. Specific conditions or syndromes that the test can help identify include hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, paranoia, and schizophrenia. Raw scores based on deviations from standard responses are entered on personality profile forms to obtain the individual results. There is also a validity scale to thwart attempts to "fake" the test. Because the MMPI is a complex test whose results can sometimes be ambiguous (and/or skewed by various factors), professionals tend to be cautious in interpreting it, often preferring broad descriptions to specific psychiatric diagnoses, unless these are supported by further testing and observable behavior. A sixth-grade reading level is required in order to take the test. However, a tape-recorded version is available for those with limited literacy, visual impairments, or other problems.

Further Reading

Aylward, Elizabeth H. Understanding Children's Testing: Psychological Testing. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, 1991.

Blau, Theodore H. The Psychological Examination of the Child. New York: J. Wiley & Sons, 1991.

Knoff, Howard M. The Assessment of Child and Adolescent Personality. New York: Guilford Press, 1986.

McCullough, Virginia. Testing and Your Child: What You Should Know About 150 of the Most Common Medical, Educational, and Psychological Tests. New York: Plume, 1992.

O'Neill, Audrey Myerson. Clinical Inference: How to Draw Meaningful Conclusions from Psychological Tests. Brandon, VT: Clinical Psychology Publishing Co., 1993.

Walsh, W. Bruce, and Nancy E. Betz. Tests and Assessment. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Wodrich, David L., and Sally A. Kush. Children's Psychological Testing: A Guide for Nonpsychologists. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co., 1990.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychological Tests & Methods