Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)



The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2; MMPI-A) is a written psychological assessment, or test, used to diagnose mental disorders.


The MMPI is used to screen for personality and psychosocial disorders in adults and adolescents. It is also frequently administered as part of a neuropsychological test battery to evaluate cognitive functioning.


The MMPI should be administered, scored, and interpreted by a clinical professional trained in its use, preferably a psychologist or psychiatrist. The MMPI is only one element of psychological assessment, and should never be used alone as the sole basis for a diagnosis. A detailed history of the test subject and a review of psychological, medical, educational, or other relevant records are required to lay the groundwork for interpreting the results of any psychological measurement.
Cultural and language differences in the test subject may affect test performance and may result in inaccurate MMPI results. The test administrator should be informed before psychological testing begins if the test taker is not fluent in English and/or has a unique cultural background.


The original MMPI was developed at the University of Minnesota and introduced in 1942. The current standardized version for adults 18 and over, the MMPI-2, was released in 1989, with a subsequent revision of certain test elements in early 2001. The MMPI-2 has 567 items, or questions, and takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete. There is a short form of the test that is comprised of the first 370 items on the long-form MMPI-2. There is also a version of the inventory for adolescents age 14 to 18, the MMPI-A.
The questions asked on the MMPI are designed to evaluate the thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and behavioral traits that comprise personality. The results of the test reflect an individual's personality strengths and weaknesses, and may identify certain disturbances of personality (psychopathologies) or mental deficits caused by neurological problems.
There are six validity scales and ten basic clinical or personality scales scored in the MMPI-2, and a number of supplementary scales and subscales that may be used with the test. The validity scales are used to determine whether the test results are actually valid (i.e., if the test-taker was truthful, answered cooperatively and not randomly) and to assess the test-taker's response style (i.e., cooperative, defensive). Each clinical scale uses a set or subset of MMPI-2 questions to evaluate a specific personality trait. The MMPI should always be administered in a controlled environment by a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional trained in its use.


The administrator should provide the test subject with information on the nature of the test and its intended use, complete standardized instructions to taking the MMPI (including any time limits, and information on the confidentiality of the results).

Normal results

The MMPI should be scored and interpreted by a trained professional. When interpreting test results for test subjects, the test administrator will review what the test evaluates, its precision in evaluation and any margins of error involved in scoring, and what the individual scores mean in the context of overall norms for the test and the background of the test subject.



Graham, John R. MMPI-2: Assessing Personality and Psychopathology. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.


ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. 1131 Shriver Laboratory Bldg 075, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. (800) 464-3742. http://www.ericae.net.

Key terms

Neuropsychological testing — Tests used to evaluate patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, brain damage, or organic neurological problems (e.g., dementia). It may also be used to evaluate the progress of a patient who has undergone treatment or rehabilitation for a neurological injury or illness.
Norms — Normative or mean score for a particular age group.
Psychopathology — A mental disorder or illness, such as schizophrenia, personality disorder, or major depressive disorder.
Standardization — The process of determining established norms and procedures for a test to act as a standard reference point for future test results.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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