The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory also known as the MMPI-2 is the most widely used objective clinical personality test in use today. The original MMPI was developed to diagnose specific psychological disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia. The basic purpose of the test was to differentiate among various types of mental patients, as well as to distinguish between mental patients and normal people.
In July 1989 the updated and restandardized MMPI-2 was published. The original 550 items, along with 154 new items, were included in an experimental form used in testing. Eventually, 567 items were selected for the MMPI-2. It consisted of 567 statements to which the subject responds with true, false, or cannot say. It was designed primarily for adults and has not yet been used for children. The items cover a wide range of topics, including attitudes on religion and sexual practices, perceptions of health, political ideas, information on family, education and occupation, and displays of symptoms known to be exhibited by certain groups of mentally disturbed people.
The test provides scores on 10 basic clinical scales: hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, masculinity-femininity, paranoia, hypomania, psychopathic deviancy, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, and social introversion. The MMPI-2 norms are more representative of the normal population, reducing one of the major criticisms of the original MMPI. The revisions strove to eliminate sexist language, cultural bias, and objectionable questions about sex and religion.
Although this test has been widely used it has not always been reliable. The test can take up to 90 minutes which may be a long time to sit and answer questions. In brain-damaged patients, completing a lengthy self-report measure may be difficult, if not impossible. Typically, these individuals are subject to fatigue, have attention problems, and suffer cognitive decline.
The MMPI-2 is used by clinicians in hospitals, clinics, counseling programs, and private practice to assist with the diagnosis of mental disorders and the selection of an appropriate treatment method.