The MMPI Test and Its Usefulness

Do you know how to identify personality types and assess future behavior patterns? There's a test capable of providing such answers. Find out about it here.
The MMPI Test and Its Usefulness
Sofía Gimbert

Written and verified by the psychologist Sofía Gimbert.

Last update: 07 June, 2023

Understanding the human personality is a complex challenge for psychology professionals. Fortunately, there are some trusted tools that help unlock the mysteries of the mind. For example, the MMPI test.

According to a publication in the journal, Universidad y Salud, this instrument is ideal for the objective evaluation of the most relevant dimensions of an individual, through clinical, validity, and other scales. If you want to learn about this test and how it’s applied in the field of psychology, read on.

The MMPI test

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a psychological test. It’s frequently used to assess and measure different aspects of personality.

This resource has a place in various clinical and research contexts. It consists of a series of carefully selected questions and explores areas such as emotional stability and tendencies toward psychological problems. Scales are used to identify if the answers given are genuine.

The validity and reliability of this tool are supported by scientific studies, such as one reviewed in the journal, Assessment. However, the results must be interpreted by trained professionals and in conjunction with other sources of information.

This inventory is recognized worldwide as an extensive test that reveals sufficient information. For instance, it’s used for expert reports, due to its ability to evaluate past conduct and anticipate future conduct.

History and origins of the MMPI

The MMPI has an interesting history dating back to the 1930s. Two Psychologists, Starke R. Hathaway and JC McKinley, from Minnesota University, developed the tool. Their goal was to achieve a more accurate and reliable psychological assessment tool.

In its beginnings, the inventory was created as a response to the need for an objective and scientifically based test for personality assessment. So, Hathaway and McKinley set out to develop a tool appropriate for clinical settings and academic research.

However, over the years, the MMPI has undergone several revisions and updates to ensure its value and credibility. The original, known as MMPI-1, was published in 1943. Later, revised versions emerged, such as the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF, (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 Restructured Form), which improved its accuracy and adaptability.

The MMPI is often used in the field of psychology, due to its significant contribution to the understanding of the individual and psychological disorders. Its history and origins established the foundations for its evolution and application today.

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MMPI types

There are different types of MMPI. They’re all designed to address specific needs in the assessment of personality and psychopathology. The most up-to-date and well-known are listed below.


The MMPI-2 is a revised and renewed version of the original. It was published in 1989 and has become one of the most applied models in psychological evaluation. This test consists of 567 items and maintains many of the scales and dimensions of the original analysis. However, it also includes new measures that have improved its validity and precision (Butcher et al., 1990).

The MMPI-2 is used in a variety of contexts, including clinical practice, recruitment, and research.


The MMPI-2-RF (restructured) is a revised version of the MMPI-2 and was published in 2008. It’s characterized by being shorter, with only 338 items. Nevertheless, it maintains its integrity and validity.

This model was developed in order to reduce administration time and facilitate the interpretation of its results. It retains the key scales and dimensions of the MMPI-2 but employs a more efficient approach.

Other versions

There are specific versions, such as the MMPI-A (for adolescents) and the MMPI-3 (the most recent, published in 2019). Both are tailored for different populations and assessment purposes. Each type of MMPI has its own characteristics and functionality. Therefore, it’s important to select the most appropriate version according to the specific context and needs of the test.

Application of the MMPI

The MMPI is applied in several stages. They’re as follows:

  • Administration. The MMPI consists of a series of questions or items that the individual answers. It can be conducted in printed format or digitally, depending on the availability and preference of the evaluator. The process is supervised by a psychologist or, in some cases, self-administered.
  • Scoring. Once the responses of the individual have been collected, the questionnaire is scored. The MMPI uses a scoring system that assigns numerical values to each of the responses. This allows for the quantification of the different scales and dimensions.
  • Interpretation. After scoring, the results are analyzed on different scales. They’re compared with the assessments of a reference or normative sample. Interpretation requires specialized knowledge. This is because it involves studying response patterns and clinical and validity scales.

It’s recommended to combine the results of the MMPI with clinical interviews, observation, or psychological testing to obtain a comprehensive and accurate appreciation of the individual’s personality and psychopathology.

Who can administer the test?

As a rule, professionals trained in clinical psychology and psychological assessment are empowered to administer the MMPI. In fact, it must be conducted by a psychologist with experience in the interpretation and clinical use of the instrument. They must exhibit a detailed understanding of the measured constructs and any factors that could affect the validity of the responses.

In some cases, such as in research studies or employee selection programs, other professionals, like psychiatrists, social workers, or guidance counselors, may be trained to administer and analyze the test.

What does the MMPI measure and on what scales?

The MMPI assesses a wide range of aspects of personality and psychopathology. It measures different dimensions, behaviors, and emotional characteristics to obtain a complete profile of the evaluated individual. Some of the main scales and planes analyzed in the MMPI-2 are as follows:

  • Validity scales. The MMPI-2 includes several scales that assess consistency and sincerity. These help to identify possible distortions in the responses and ensure that the results are valid and reliable.
  • Content scales. The MMPI-2 has content scales that examine specific areas of personality and behavior. They cover topics such as aggression, sexuality, social anxiety, authoritativeness, and rebellion.
  • Supplementary scales. The test includes measures that provide additional and complementary information about the individual and that assess certain characteristics. For example, defensive style, response to therapy, and the presence of somatic symptoms.
  • Clinical scales. The MMPI-2 has ten scales that evaluate different psychopathological aspects. For instance, depression, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, antisocial behavior, and other personality disorders. These scales provide information on the presence and severity of different mental health problems.

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The MMPI is widely recognized for its validity and reliability. Indeed, it’s been subjected to rigorous studies and reviews that support its accuracy and usefulness in a variety of contexts. However, it’s important to note that no psychological test is perfect. Therefore, MMPI results must be interpreted in conjunction with other sources of information.

Although the MMPI is a valuable and advantageous tool due to its updated versions, it’s important to remember that its effectiveness depends on its execution by trained professionals. But, when it’s correctly applied, the MMPI can provide a deeper insight into the human personality. Moreover, it can assist in proper diagnosis and treatment.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.