MMPI: test of adult personality and psychopathology

What is the MMPI-2?

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is the most widely used and researched standardized psychometric test of adult personality and psychopathology

The MMPI-2 test’s contemporary normative sample and extensive research base help make it the gold standard in assessment for a wide variety of settings.

The test can be used to help:

  • Assess major symptoms of social and personal maladjustment.
  • Identify suitable candidates for high-risk public safety positions.
  • Give a strong empirical foundation for a clinician’s expert testimony
  • Assess medical patients and design effective treatment strategies.
  • Evaluate participants in substance abuse programs and select appropriate treatment approaches.
  • Support college and career counseling recommendations.  

Relevant to a range of contemporary applications, the MMPI-2 instrument remains the most widely used and widely researched test of adult psychopathology.

Used by clinicians to assist with the diagnosis of mental disorders and the selection of appropriate treatment methods, the MMPI-2 test continues to help meet the assessment needs of mental health professionals in an ever-changing environment.

MMPI Test Results: The MMPI Clinical Scales

MMPI 2 Test Result: Clinical Scales

The MMPI Test Results are measured by the MMPI-2 ‘scales’, which are the set of classifications of personality traits and psychopathy that the MMPI is designed to measure from a person taking the test

These are essentially the MMPI Test Result categories. The number of scales is continuing growing – but there are 10 primary categories (called the Clinical Scales) that are used in the assessment of the MMPI-2 tes

Following is a brief description of the MMPI-2 scale (the MMPI Test Result you will get). The descriptions for each scale include the characteristics typical of high scorers (and in some cases those of moderate, or low scorers)

Not all correlates/descriptors listed here will be applicable on an individual results, but the following will give you a basic idea of what each score means.

Why is the MMPI-2 Test Result Score so Important?

The interpretation of the MMPI is used as a criteria for acceptance of employment in many government and business organizations.

The Clinical and Validity Scales of the MMPI-2

The original clinical scales were designed to measure common diagnoses of the era. The table below lists the category description, what is measured and the number of questions within the MMPI-2 test that relate to each.

MMPI scales

Click to enlarge

The validity scales in all versions of the MMPI-2 contain three basic types of validity measures:

  1. those that were designed to detect non-responding or inconsistent responding (CNS, VRIN, TRIN),
  2. those designed to detect when clients are over reporting or exaggerating the prevalence or severity of psychological symptoms (F, Fb, Fp, FBS), and
  3. those designed to detect when test-takers are under-reporting or downplaying psychological symptoms (L, K, S)).
MMPI checks

Click to enlarge

Description of the Main Assessment Scale.

Scale 1: Hypochondriasis

High Scorers: High scorers present excessive somatic symptoms that tend to be vague and undefined

In addition, high scorers also show chronic personality features such as selfishness; self-centered and narcissistic behavior; and a pessimistic, defeatist, cynical outlook on life.

They tend not to be open to therapy since they seek only medical solutions to problems.

Scale 2: Depression

High Scorers: High scorers on Scale 2 are described as

  • being depressed, unhappy, and dysphoric;
  • being pessimistic and self-deprecating;
  • feeling guilty; feeling sluggish;
  • having somatic complaints;
  • feeling weak, fatigued, and lacking energy;
  • acting agitated, tense, high-strung, and irritable;
  • being prone to worry;
  • lacking self-confidence;
  • feeling useless and unable to function;
  • feeling like a failure at school or on the job;
  • being introverted, shy, retiring, timid, and seclusive;
  • acting aloof;
  • being psychologically distant;
  • avoiding interpersonal involvement;
  • being cautious and conventional;
  • having difficulty making decisions;
  • being non aggressive;
  • acting over controlled, denying impulses; and
  • making concessions to avoid conflict

Scale 3: Hysteria

High Scorers: High scorers tend to react to stress and avoid responsibility through development of physical symptoms such as having headaches, chest pains, weakness, and tachycardia. Their symptoms often appear and disappear suddenly. These individuals tend to lack insight about causes of symptoms and their own motives and feelings

They are viewed as psychologically immature, childish, and infantile; self-centered, narcissistic, and egocentric; attention-seeking and needing great affection from others.

They tend to be resistant to psychological interpretations. High Hy scores have been found to be associated with chronic pain and with compensation claims.

Scale 4: Psychopathic Deviate

High Scorers: High scorers are found to engage in antisocial behavior and are rebellious toward authority figures

They show stormy family relationships and usually blame others for their problems.

They are considered to be impulsive, and they strive for immediate gratification of impulses. They do not plan well and act without considering the consequences of their actions. They show impatience, limited frustration tolerance, poor judgment, and high risk- taking. They do not appear to profit from experience.

Their behavior is often described as ostentatious, exhibitionistic, and insensitive

They tend to be interested in others in terms of how they can be used.

They tend to act out and have antagonistic behavior and aggressive outbursts. Some are assaultive and may show little guilt over negative behavior.

Scale 5: Masculinity–Femininity


High (T-score > 80): Men who attain high scores on this scale show conflict about sexual identity. They are insecure in their masculine role

High Scorers (T-score 70–79): Males in this range on the Masculinity-Femininity scale may be viewed as sensitive, insightful, tolerant, effeminate, broad in cultural interests, submissive, and passive.

Low Scorers (T-score < 35): Men who score low on this scale are often viewed as having a “macho” self-image.

They have a narrow range of interests, an inflexible and unoriginal approach to problems, and seem to prefer action to thought.


High Scorers (T-score > 70): Females who score high on this scale tend to reject traditional female roles and activities. They show masculine interests in work, sports, and hobbies

Low Scorers (T-score < 35): These women describe themselves in terms of the stereotyped female role and show doubts about their own femininity.

They are seen as constricted, sensitive, modest, and idealistic.

Scale 6: Paranoia

Extremely High Elevations (T-score > 80): High scorers may show frankly psychotic behavior, disturbed thinking, delusions of persecution and/or grandeur, and ideas of reference

They feel mistreated and picked on and angry and resentful.

Moderate Elevations (T-score = 65–79 for males; T-score = 71–79 for females): In this range, individuals show a paranoid predisposition. They are sensitive and overly responsive to reactions of others, they feel they are getting a raw deal from life, and they rationalize and blame others.

Extremely Low Scorers (T-score < 35): In some settings, low paranoia scores (in the context of a defensive response set) may suggest potentially psychotic disorders

They are evasive, defensive, guarded, shy, secretive, and withdrawn

Scale 7: Psychasthenia

High Scorers: High scores on this scale suggest anxious, tense, and agitated behavior. High scorers show high discomfort and are worried and apprehensive, high strung and jumpy, and have difficulties in concentrating.

They are sensitive and have physical complaints, show some insight into problems, intellectualize and rationalize, are resistant to interpretations in therapy

Scale 8: Schizophrenia

Very High Scorers (T-score > 79): Very high scores suggest blatantly psychotic behavior including confusion, disorganization, and disoriented behavior. Unusual thoughts or attitudes, delusions, hallucinations, and poor judgment are likely to be present.

High Scorers (T-score = 65–79): High scores on this scale suggest a schizoid lifestyle. They do not feel a part of a social environment. They report feeling isolated, alienated, and misunderstood. They feel unaccepted by peers, withdrawn, seclusive, secretive, and inaccessible.

They may report vague, long- standing physical complaints. Others view them as stubborn, moody, opinionated, immature, and impulsive.

Scale 9: Hypomania

High Scorers (T-score > 80): Very high scorers on this scale show overactivity and accelerated speech. They may have hallucinations or delusions of grandeur. They tend to be very energetic and talkative, prefer action to thought, show a wide range of interest, and do not utilize energy wisely.

Moderately elevated scorers (T = 65 – 79): Moderate scorers show overactivity and an exaggerated sense of self-worth.

They easily become bored and restless and have a low frustration tolerance. They are impulsive and have episodes of irritability, hostility, and aggressive outbursts. They are unrealistic and overly optimistic at times

Scale 0: Social Introversion

High Scorers (T-score > 65): High scorers on this scale are socially introverted people who are more comfortable alone or with a few close friends

They have a slow personal tempo and they are reliable, dependable, cautious, and conventional and have unoriginal approaches to problems. They are rigid and inflexible in attitudes and opinions, and they have difficulty making even minor decisions.

Low Scorers (T-score < 45): Low scorers on this scale tend to be sociable and extroverted as well as outgoing, gregarious, friendly and talkative.

They seek out competitive situations, have problems with impulse control, and act without considering the consequences of actions

They are manipulative and opportunistic and arouse resentment and hostility in others.

you can take the MMPI-2 test online  (Test & Results only, no analysis or interpretation provided.)  

2 thoughts on “MMPI: test of adult personality and psychopathology

  1. leejcaroll

    Problem wit this is that some reality situations are “graded” as part of pathology for instance it asks about numbness of body parts, which can be form of somatitization for people like me surgery has numbed my face. It asks about your appearance so you feel you look (bad) to others (forget the actual word, and also to yoursels as separate ? My face is paralyzed yes I do. do you look different then others. yes same reason etc. do you get headaches etc for many of us in the pain community the results may well not be legitimate absent answering as tough we did not have signs symptoms, etc from our pain and procedures, surgeries etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Non-standard people will always have a hard time with such standard questionnaires – for obvious reasons.

      Plus, it’s hard to untangle pain from the results of pain, and this is never considered when they design these tests.

      When I took the MMPI over 20 years ago before pain became so powerful in my life, the results “felt right” and were helpful, so it was accurate for me at that time.

      But all those tests are just clues, not answers.

      Liked by 1 person


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