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Psychometric Considerations of the MMPI-2. William P. Wattles, Ph.D. Francis Marion University. MMPI/MMPI-2 second most widely used test by clincical psychologists (86%) Translated into more than 50 languages. Original MMPI. Published 1943

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Psychometric Considerations of the MMPI-2

William P. Wattles, Ph.D.

Francis Marion University

  • MMPI/MMPI-2 second most widely used test by clincical psychologists (86%)

  • Translated into more than 50 languages

Original MMPI

  • Published 1943

  • Paper and pencil improvement on clinical interview and individual psychological testing

Prior to MMPI: Logical Keying

  • Test items generated rationally based on:

    • Face validity

    • Subjective judgment

  • Logically keyed items problematic:

    • Subject to faking

    • Not always correct

Face Validity

  • Does the test appear to measure what it is purported to Measure?

Face Validity

0 I do not feel sad.

1 I feel sad.

2 I am sad all the time and can't snap out of it.

3 I am so sad or unhappy that I can't stand it.

  • 70. I am easily downed in an argument

  • 89 My hardest values are with myself

  • 267 I have periods in which I feel unusually cheerful without any special reason.

  • 219 I have been disappointed in love

Empirical Keying

  • Original items came from many sources.

  • Pool of 1,000 items reduced to 566

  • Rewritten to be less formal and allow for some reversal of responses.

Control Group

  • 724 Visitors to the hospital in Minnesota.

  • Representative of Minnesota in the 1930s

    • 16-65

    • Average age mind 30’s

    • Rural

    • 8th grade education

    • White

Empirical Keying

  • Using groups of diagnosed patients

  • Contrast and Cross-validation


  • Improved norms

  • Score has meaning only when compared to a representative sample.

  • Original sample Caucasian, 35, married, small town, good job.

  • New sample large and more representative.

  • Higher education level than population

MMPI-2 normative group

  • 2600 Participants

  • Paid $15 ($40 for couples)

  • Tested in 7 locations

    • Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California

  • Selected from phone directories

MMPI-2 composition

  • 2600 Participants (started with 2900)

    • 1138 men

    • 1462 women

  • Age 18-85 (M=41, SD=15)

  • 61% married

  • Education 3-20 years (M=14, SD=2)

MMPI-2 Restandardization

  • Caucasian 81%

  • African-American 12%

  • Hispanic 3%

  • Native-American 3%

  • Asian-American 1%


  • Eight Grade reading level required

  • Satisfactory cooperation and commitment to task

  • Internal checks for the above

T Score transformations

  • Transforming a score makes it easier to interpret.

  • 13 validity and clinical scales converted to T scores

  • T score is a standard score with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10.

  • Thus, a 70 is like a Z score of 2

Standard Scores or Z scores

  • Z score: how many standard deviations a score lies above or below the mean.





Percent of scores falling below







MMPI-2 T score


Original linear T-scores were problematic because the underlying data is somewhat skewed.

Thus a T score on one scale represented a different percentile than one on another scale

MMPI Uniform T score

Involve averaging of the T-scores across the scales.

MMPI Uniform T-scores

Frequency high points in contemporary settings

T-score cutoff

  • Formerly T-scores of 70 were considered clinically significant. Now the MMPI-2 recommends 65.

  • That puts the score above 93% of those who answer

    • 65-50/10 = 1.5

    • 1.5 = .9332 area under standard normal curve to the left of Z = 1.5


  • There is considerable overlap between some scales. 13 of 39 items in scale 6 also appear in scale 8

Homogeneity of items

  • The empirical keying approach did not favor item homogeneity thus internal consistency is not high.

Temporal Stability

  • Ability, interest and aptitude tests should be high in temporal stability

  • Personality and psychopathology measures less clear.

Test-retest reliability one week

Test-retest reliability

  • Summary. Test is fairly stable and changes when current appear consistent. Significant changes generally correctly reflect behavior change.

Internal consistency

  • Moderate, not a strength for the MMPI-2 due to empirical keying approach.

Factor Analysis

  • Two strong factors identified

    • General maladjustment and psychotic thought

    • Neurotic characteristics

Response sets and styles

  • Charges that MMPI and MMPI-2 were confounded by response style.

  • Block modified MMPI to have equal number of true and false items

  • Test seems to be valid in a variety of settings.


  • Validity similar

  • Raw Scores higher on MMPI-2

    • May be explained by instructions

  • T-scores compensate for higher raw scores

Items changed MMPI-2

Basic Qualifications for users

  • Graduate-level course in psychological testing.

    • Standard scores

    • Transformations

    • Understand limits of accuracy

    • Standard error of measurement

Basic Qualifications for users

  • Graduate-level course in psychopathology

    • Personality structure

    • Dynamics

    • Deviance psychodiagnostic concepts

    • Diagnostic systems

    • Broad understanding of human personality

Lexile Reading Levels in SIRS

Lexile Score Table from

What Are Lexile Reading Levels

  • Lexile scores match reader ability and text difficulty, allowing individualized monitoring of student progress.

  • Due to the accountability requirements of NCLB, many states are turning to standardized systems for reading which help to track student progress.

    How does it Work?

  • Lexile measures are based on two well-established predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend: semantic difficulty (word frequency) and syntactic complexity (sentence length).

Reading Level

Lexile examples

  • 39 I am an important person

  • 294 I have not lived the right kind of life

  • 603 I do not read every editorial in the newspaper everyday

  • 860 Most anytime I would rather sit and daydream than do anything else.

  • 1042 I am troubled by discomfort in the pit of my stomach every few days or oftener.

Testing conditions

  • Quiet room one setting preferred

  • Okay to take over several intervals

  • Person must have privacy and no help

  • Simple definitions of words permitted along with rephrasing of colloquialisms

  • Usually sufficient to say: “Just indicate the way you see it.”

  • Examiner to act in a serious and professional manner

  • Don’t linger too long in one area

The End

The End

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