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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Q. Please tell me what the chances are that two people would have the exact same results after taking the MMPI. We both have been evaluated by a physician who is used time and again by insurance companies to perform IME's and who's reputation is less than ethical.

A. The odds that two individuals would have exactly the same raw responses on the MMPI are extremely small, but I can't give you an exact probability. However, it is possible that the MMPI profiles of two people could turn out to be very similar, if not identical. Let me explain. The MMPI and its revised version consist of about 550 true or false questions, such as "I brood a great deal" and "I feel weak all over much of the time." The subject's responses are transferred into each of ten clinical scales, measuring tendencies toward depression, hypochondriasis, paranoia, social introversion, etc.

There are also validity scales designed to pick up subjects who present themselves in an overly-favorable or unfavorable light. The clinical and validity scales are used to construct a profile of the person's responses, which looks a bit like the top of a picket fence. It might be possible for two people with somewhat different answers to obtain the same overall profile on the MMPI; however, it would be extremely rare, so far as I know, for the actual raw (unconverted) true and false responses to be a perfect match.

Keep in mind that the MMPI is often scored by computer, or by a standard computerized program-thus, the results don't necessarily reflect the clinician administering the MMPI. If you have real concerns about your MMPI results, I would suggest having an independent psychologist look over the raw data, to see if your responses correspond to the profile generated.

April 2001

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