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Psy 525 - History of Psychological Assessment

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History of Psychological Assessment


March 4, 2013

Christa Washington

History of Psychological Assessment

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) dates back to the mid 1900's. A psychologist, Starke R. Hathaway and a neurologist and psychiatrist, John C McKinley created the MMPI because of the needs conveyed by physicians. This was the start of many reproductions of the MMPI. During the time of the Second World War Hathaway and McKinley created the MMPI to stop assumptions of rationality and balanced test construction which characterized the early assessment efforts and followed a different course (Buchanan, 1994).

The MMPI test was used on subjects between the ages of 16 and 65 who were married, living in rural areas, with less than an eighth grade education level. In the beginning of the creation there was a pool of over 1,000 possible items to use in the list (Buchanan, 1994). The list was reduced to 504 by removing poorly worded statements or similar statements. However, Hathaway and McKinley were not the first to use a form design for personality assessment; more than 50 years of research was done before them by various researchers.

The MMPI was originally called the Medical and Psychiatric Inventory and as time passed it was renamed the Multiphasic personality Schedule (Buchanan, 1994). The MMPI was composed of cards that showed a single item. The reading levels on the cards were as basic as necessary because of the area of the population, and the education of the participants at the time. The test was comprised of true, false and cannot say answers. Hathaway and McKinley tried to keep the test as basic as possible to accommodate the targeted population.

The participant's responses were scored and the results were put on a graph like board to form a draft of diverse scales. The scoring was done by the number of true or false responses that were made on the form. Hathaway and McKinley tried a variety of systems to perfect the MMPI test. They used similar groups of psychiatric patients in developing the nine basic clinical scales. The scales that were developed linked to the patient groups of significance in therapeutic and psychiatric practice at that time. These scales were largely viewed as an aid in reaching analytic decisions necessary for the supervision of the test. The MMPI test was not viewed as favorable to other clinical psychologist and test researchers during that time. The MMPI was viewed as a liability and deemed difficult for the patients (Buchanan, 1994).

According to Buchanan the uses for the test included approximating uncharacteristic mental characteristics in the general population, thereby pinpointing



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