Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

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Winning Nomination

The MMPI is arguably the most widely used internationally objective standardized personality inventory. It is used in health, social, and organizational assessment. Developed, and then updated and revised, by University of Minnesota researchers in the departments of medicine and psychology, the MMPI carries the name "Minnesota" within the country and beyond. The MMPI, and later the MMPI2, contributed to the empirical understanding of human behavior.

~Anna C. Hampton, Ph. D., Minneapolis, MN

Runner-up Nominations

MMPI -- a standard test of mental health worldwide. Provides some wisdom to the mix on who should get child custody, who can adopt and what direction therapy should take to best benefit an individual.
~Cindy Jackson, West St. Paul, MN



Getting to know you

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was developed in the late 1930s by Dr. Starke R. Hathaway, a psychologist, and Dr. J. C. McKinley, a psychiatrist, at the University of Minnesota. After years of clinical trials, it was first published and copyrighted in 1942. The MMPI and its revised second edition (MMPI-2) are assessment instruments that allow an examiner to draw some tentative conclusions about a person’s typical behaviors and ways of thinking. The test outcomes can help an examiner, such as a psychologist, determine a person’s outlook on life, typical mood, likely diagnoses, and potential problems in treatment. The MMPI-2 is used in a range of settings from psychiatric assessments to criminal trials where a defendant’s mental health may be of concern.

From the 1940s to the 1980s, the original MMPI was the most widely used and most intensely researched psychological assessment instrument in the world. The test was originally developed using an innovative process developed by Dr. Hathaway called empirical keying. Before the MMPI, most assessment tools used questions or tasks that the test designer assumed would realistically assess behaviors. To develop empirical keying, Hathaway and his colleagues wrote a wide range of true-or-false statements, many of which did not directly target typical psychiatric topics. The statements were given to groups of psychiatric inpatients and to others to determine which test items reliably differentiated the patients, both from each other and from the other groups. From there, the MMPI could be used to make preliminary diagnoses of some common psychiatric diagnoses.

The MMPI-2 was published in 1989. This version was based on much larger and more racially and culturally diverse community comparison groups than the original version.

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