Duhaime's Law Dictionary

MMPI - Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Definition:

An objective personality test designed to detect a number of major patterns of personality and emotional disorder.

Has gone through some revisions, the best known generation being MMPI-2.

Described also as a psychological test for evaluation of disturbed mental functioning and personality disorders.

Generally administered by registered psychologists or neuropsychologists and developed in the 1930 at the University of Minnesota.

Assesses an individual and produces a clinical psychological profile. Such a profile may indicate, for example, that the subject is outgoing and sociable, the presence of significant emotional problems, has trust in others, honesty, risk-taking and social anxiety if any, and antisocial and paranoid traits.

The MMPI formula purports to reveal whether a subject is exaggerating his or her answer, described, then, as defensive or non-disclosing.

The subject must be at least 18 years old and the test takes about 60-90 minutes.

The MMPI-2 test provides scores for ten clinical scales, as well as a number of validity scales and scales reflecting test-taking attitude. A variety of content and supplementary scores are provided as well as numerous subscores in a number of different areas of functioning. The MMPI - 2 is considered to be at least 18 and have a Grade 5 reading level.

The MMPI is a series of standard questions put to an individual from which scores are given allowing the assessor to evaluate the responses and produce a psychological profile; personality characteristics.

MMPIs are administered in a wide variety of legal cases, notably in custody and access assessments.

Here are three of the 567 (all are true or false) questions of an MMPI-2 test:

  • I like mechanics magazines
  • I have a good appetite
  • I wake up fresh and rested most mornings

MMPI-2 profiles are useful tools, to be used with the aid of patient interviews, clinical history, and professional judgment.  An MMPI-2 profile is not meant to be used as a stand-alone tool, but is meant to be used in conjunction with other information.  The other information a clinician gathers can affect how the MMPI-2 profile is interpreted (for example, other similar psychological tests such as MCMI - Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory and STAXI - State Trait Anger Expression Inventory).

As a sample MMPI-2 profile result, the Court quoted these words in Sovani v Jin:

"After a careful review of Mr. Sovani’s MMPI-2 profile, it would be reasonable to conclude that there is considerable evidence of distortion and exaggeration of his psychiatric problems, physical problems, and level of disability.  An alternative explanation would be that he was severely mentally ill at the time of this evaluation and he was in need of urgent psychiatric hospitalization.  This seems very unlikely, however, or Dr. Krywaniuk would have recognized this.  Dr. Krywaniuk speculated that the underlying cause or motive for Mr. Sovani’s exaggeration was “a cry for help” or that he was “extremely highly focused” on his problems.  An alternative explanation, of course, is that he frankly exaggerated his problems to influence the outcome of this independent evaluation and his personal injury litigation.  Regardless of the underlying motive for the exaggeration, the presence of major exaggeration makes it impossible to determine the true nature and extent of his psychiatric problems, physical problems, and level of disability during this evaluation."

Or, in R v Allan:

"The first MMPI test taken ... yielded a depiction of him that was immature, narcissistic, and suspicious.  His profile was consistent with a passive-aggressive personality style, namely someone who tended to blame others while accepting little or no responsibility for his own behaviour. Furthermore, it depicted him as a demanding individual who would be prone to alcohol problems and family conflicts.  Overall, his test profile was often seen in anti-social individuals, particularly those with sociopathic/psychopathic features...."


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