Assessment of Underreporting and Defensiveness in Psychological Evaluations using the MMPI-2-RF

Assessment of Underreporting and Defensiveness in Psychological Evaluations using the MMPI-2-RF


1 Hour | 1 CE (CEU)

Program Description

This webinar on Assessment of Underreporting and Defensiveness in Psychological Evaluations using the MMPI-2-RF is presented by Dr. Martin Sellbom.

This intermediate level webinar will discuss the role of the 338-item version of the MMPI-2, the MMPI-2 Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) in the assessment of underreporting. This webinar will assume background and basic interpretation knowledge of the MMPI-2-RF and forensic and clinical assessment. The majority of the time will be devoted to discussing the MMPI-2-RF Validity scales used for the assessment of underreporting and how these scales can be used as evidence for measuring defensiveness, with a particular emphasis on forensic (risk assessment, family court) and public safety personnel screening evaluations for which such responding is common. Discussion of using MMPI-2-RF comparison groups for this purpose will be included. Research supporting the Validity scales’ use for this purpose will also be discussed. The webinar will end with case illustrations.

Intended Audience

This webinar is intended for professionals that want to enhance their understanding of the MMPI-2-RF including those working in criminal justice, security, health care, social service, education, and human resources settings. This webinar is for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

Upon completion of this webinar, participants should be able to:

  • Describe the psychometric findings available to guide MMPI-2-RF interpretation of validity scales assessing underreporting
  • Describe vvarious considerations for using the MMPI-2-RF in the assessment of underreporting and defensiveness
  • Describe how to use and interpret the MMPI-2-RF underreporting validity scales in the context of evaluating for defensive responding.

Benefits of the MMPI-2-RF

The MMPI­-2-­RF is the latest version of the time­ honored inventory, MMPI.

1. It takes about half the time to administer (usually 30 to 50 minutes), because this latest version has fewer items, 338 vs. 567 items.

2. Although many differences exist between it and the MMPI­2, the two most important are the isolation of items throughout the inventory concerning demoralization and moving them into a separate scale and the addition of the revised PSY­5 scales, which are related to the personality disorder clusters noted in the DSM classification.

3. Many of the psycho-legal questions asked by courts or lawyers to address require consideration of response bias and mental health functioning. The MMPI-2-RF likely offers the best combination of any psychological test instrument to get a good sense of an individual’s approach to the evaluation (via the Validity Scales) and current mental health and personality functioning.

Advantages the MMPI-2-RF offers over other tests?

There is no other test out there with the same wide range of Validity Scales, which makes the test so useful in forensic and clinical contexts. The MMPI-2-RF also measures a plethora of important clinical constructs in a very efficient manner, and these constructs are clearly aligned with contemporary and emerging models of psychopathology and personality. Finally, MMPI-2-RF scales have appeared in almost 300 peer-reviewed articles, which is quite impressive given how long these scales have actually been available.

The MMPI-2-RF provides unique information not available from any other test, namely, whether a test taker is reporting psychiatric, cognitive, and physical symptoms in a credible manner. I like to use the analogy that if a test taker obtains high elevations on MMPI-2-RF over-report validity scales, it is like a “buzzer going off,” signaling that the person’s self-report of symptoms is not likely valid or reliable. There is no other instrument that provides the range of over-report data available in the MMPI-2-RF.

What advice would you give to psychologists who are challenged in court regarding their use of the MMPI-2-RF?

Given that: (1) there are nearly 300 peer-reviewed publications on the MMPI-2-RF, (2) research shows that it is a psychometrically superior instrument to the MMPI-2, and (3) it has additional validity scales and well-validated substantive scales as compared to the MMPI-2, I take the position that it is actually opposing experts who need to justify why they continue to use the MMPI-2.

About Dr. Martin Sellbom

Dr. Martin Sellbom is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2007 from Kent State University (Kent, Ohio), and completed a two-year post-doctoral residency at Kent State University and Psycho-Diagnostic Clinic in Akron, Ohio.

Dr. Sellbom’s research focuses on psychopathy and other personality disorders (with a current focus on DSM-5 developments), the broader integration of personality and psychopathology, and personality assessment with the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF (especially in forensic settings). His work has been featured in over 140 peer-reviewed publications and he has won several awards, including the American Psychology-Law Society’s Saleem Shah Award and Society for Personality Assessment’s Samuel and Anne Beck Award – both for early career achievement. Dr. Sellbom serves as an Associate Editor for the journals Psychological Assessment, Journal of Personality Disorders, and International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. For his clinical practice, he specializes in court-ordered forensic psychological evaluations and pre-employment evaluations for public safety positions.

Webinar Outline

  • Discuss assessment of underreporting
  • Discuss underreporting and defensiveness
  • Discuss underreporting validity scales

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