A Brief History of the MMPI Instruments
The Original MMPI
In 1937, Starke R. Hathaway, a clinical psychologist, and J. Charnley McKinley, a neuropsychiatrist, began to develop an instrument for use in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Hospital that they described “as an objective aid in the routine psychiatric case work-up of adult patients and as a method of determining the severity of the conditions” (Dahlstrom, 1972, p. 4). The new test was to be a departure from existing self-report personality inventories, which were viewed as too transparent and, therefore, vulnerable to manipulation by test takers, and too narrow to serve as omnibus measures of psychopathology.
Adopting an empirical approach to scale construction, Hathaway and McKinley (1940) described their intention “to create a large reservoir of items from which various scales might be constructed in the hope of evolving a greater variety of valid personality descriptions than are available at the present time” (p. 249). A manual for the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a broad-band clinical test of personality, was published in 1942 by the University of Minnesota Press (Hathaway & McKinley, 1942).
Acceptance of the test grew steadily (Dahlstrom, 1992) until by the late 1950s, the MMPI had become the most widely used objective measure of personality and psychopathology, and the subject of both basic and applied research. In addition to extensive use in clinics and hospitals, the test was being administered to patients in general medical settings, to inmates in correctional facilities, to military personnel, and to candidates for positions involving high stress and responsibility for public safety. Furthermore, the test was being translated into foreign languages -- by 1976 over 50 translations were available.
Despite the widespread use of the test, by the 1970s, there were calls for its revision. The original locally developed norms were considered not representative of the U.S. population, and a number of the items were deemed outdated or offensive because of sexual or religious content. Additionally, leading personality assessment experts criticized the heterogeneity of the clinical scales and the very high correlations between them.
In 1982 the University of Minnesota Press resumed publication of the MMPI – it had licensed publication to The Psychological Corporation in the mid-1950s -- for the purpose of embarking upon a restandardization of the test. James N. Butcher, W. Grant Dahlstrom, John R. Graham, and Auke Tellegen constituted the committee responsible for the standardization, with Beverly Kaemmer serving as coordinator for the University of Minnesota Press. The committee agreed to pursue two goals: improve the test while maintaining as much continuity as possible with the original MMPI. Improvement took the form of the collection of new normative data, revision of outdated and offensive item content, addition of new item content, and development of new scales intended to augment the basic MMPI Validity and Clinical Scales; continuity was accomplished by minimizing changes to the Clinical Scales, thus making it possible for test users to rely on the decades of accumulated research and clinical experience with the MMPI. The restandardized MMPI, the MMPI-2, was published in 1989 (Butcher et al., 1989, 2001).
The original MMPI was developed for use with adults and was standardized on a normative sample of individuals ages 16 and older. Shortly after the MMPI was published, research began to be conducted on its use with adolescents, and in the mid-50s Hathaway and Monachesi, intending to expand use of the test by employing it to predict delinquency among adolescents, collected a massive data set and reported their findings in a book (Hathaway & Monachesi, 1961). Several adolescent normative data sets were developed; the most frequently used norms were introduced by Marks and Briggs in 1967.
Using the MMPI with adolescents presented a number of challenges: multiple normative data sets; item content inappropriate or irrelevant for this younger population; the absence of scales designed specifically to assess adolescent development and psychopathology. The first version of the MMPI designed specifically for adolescents was developed by the Adolescent Project Committee composed of James N. Butcher, John R. Graham, Robert P. Archer, and Auke Tellegen, joined by Carolyn Williams, with Beverly Kaemmer serving as coordinator for the University of Minnesota Press.
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Adolescent (MMPI-A) was published in 1992 (Butcher et al., 1992). Adolescent normative data were collected, items relevant to this population were written, and adolescent-specific scales were constructed.
As noted, a goal of the MMPI-2 restandardization, to maintain continuity with the original MMPI, was accomplished by leaving the clinical scales virtually intact. By contrast, a major aim of the restructuring process was to revise those scales by dealing with scale heterogeneity and excessively high scale intercorrelations, long identified in the research literature as problematic psychometrically. This was accomplished by the creation of the Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales by Auke Tellegen, in collaboration with Yossef S. Ben-Porath (Tellegen et al., 2003). The RC scales, which were the first step in development of the MMPI-2-RF (Tellegen & Ben-Porath 2008/2011), were designed to assess a major distinctive component in each of clinical scales 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9, excepting scales 5 and 0, which are not measures of psychopathology.
Completion of the MMPI-2-RF was accomplished by development of sets of Higher-Order Scales, Specific Problems and Interest Scales, revised PSY-5 Scales, and new and revised Validity Scales to produce a comprehensive measure that fully utilized the rich substance of the MMPI-2 item pool. The MMPI-2-RF was published in 2008 (Ben-Porath & Tellegen, 2008/2011; Tellegen & Ben-Porath, 2008/2011, Ben-Porath, 2012).
The Bibliographic Database
Since the 1940s the MMPI instruments have provided valuable assessment tools for professionals in mental health, forensic, public safety, and medical settings. The original MMPI followed by the MMPI-A, the MMPI-2, and, most recently, the MMPI-2-RF have been very actively researched, resulting in this collection of over 15,000 publications, which the University of Minnesota Press has compiled and will continue to update. It is our hope that this database will prove useful to practitioners and researchers as the Test Division of the University of Minnesota Press continues to fulfill its commitment to ongoing MMPI instrument research and development.
Note: The Press is grateful to Dr. James N. Butcher and his staff who worked on an early stage of this database, which they made available to the Press.
Ben-Porath, Y. S. (2012). Interpreting the MMPI-2-RF. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Ben-Porath, Y. S., & Tellegen, A. (2008/2011). MMPI-2-RF (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 Restructured Form) manual for administration, scoring, and interpretation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Butcher, J. N., Graham, J. R., Ben-Porath, Y. S., Tellegen, A., Dahlstrom, W. G., & Kaemmer, B. (2001). MMPI-2:Manual for administration and scoring. (Rev. ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Butcher, J. N., Graham, J. R., Tellegen, A., & Kaemmer, B. (1989). Manual for the restandardized Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: MMPI-2. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Butcher, J. N., Williams, C. L., Graham, J. R., Archer, R., Tellegen, A., Ben-Porath, Y. S., & Kaemmer, B. (1992). MMPI-A manual for administration, scoring, and interpretation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Dahlstrom, W. G. (1992). Professional Research and Practice, 23, 345-348.
Dahlstrom, W. G., Welsh, G. S. & Dahlstrom, L. E. (1972). An MMPI handbook. Vol. I. Clinical interpretation. (Rev. ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hathaway, S. R., & McKinley, J. C. (1940). A multiphasic personality schedule (Minnesota): Construction of the schedule. Journal of Psychology, 10, 249-254.
Hathaway, S. R., & McKinley J. C. (1942). Manual for the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hathaway, S. R., & Monachesi, E. D. (1961). An atlas of juvenile MMPI profiles. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Tellegen, A., & Ben-Porath, Y. S. (2008/2011). MMPI-2-RF (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 Restructured Form) technical manual. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press.
Tellegen, A., Ben-Porath, Y. S., McNulty, J. L., Arbisi, P. A., Graham, J. R., & Kaemmer, B. (2003). The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical Scales: Development, validation, and interpretation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.