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MMPI-2: Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: FAQs

 


- Basic information on the RC Scales, including development, reliability, and validity

- Documentation on the RC Scales

- Relationship of the RC Scales to the Clinical Scales

- Relationship of the RC Scales to the Content Scales

- Information about specific RC Scales

- Interpretation of the RC Scales, including code-type information

- Using the RC Scales in forensic assessment

- Using the RC Scales with nonclinical populations

- Availability of the RC Scales in MMPI test materials and reports

- Availability of training on the RC Scales

- Information about conducting research on the RC Scales

- Information on purchasing the RC Scales


Basic information on the RC Scales, including development, reliability, and validity

Are the RC Scales considered "experimental?" Why not?

They are not considered “experimental” because sufficient data exist to support their recommended use in practical applications of the MMPI-2 test. They are part of the standard test materials. The Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, and Kaemmer (2003) provided initial empirical data to guide RC Scale interpretation. Subsequent research provides further data to guide and support RC Scale interpretation.

Can I administer just the items that comprise the RC Scales as a "short" MMPI-2 administration, similarly to administering the first 370 items and printing the Basic Service Report (includes 10 Clinical Scales and 3 Validity Scales--L, F, K)?

No. The RC Scales are not a shortened version of the MMPI-2 test. They include items that appear after item 370 in the MMPI-2 booklet. A shorter, restructured version of the MMPI-2 in which the RC Scales serve as the core scales, is in development.

What is the research base for the RC Scales?

The development and validation of the scales is documented in the first chapter of a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.” Extensive additional research on the RC Scales has been published in journal articles, book chapters, and books.

How were the RC Scales developed?

The development of the scales is documented in the first chapter of a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.” The author of the scales, Auke Tellegen, first developed a demoralization scale, extracting the general complaint or malaise factor from the existing Clinical scales. He then identified the major dimensions of eight of the ten scales, excepting Scales 5 and 0, and constructed scales measuring those dimensions.

Do the RC Scales overlap?

No, they do not. It was the intent of the scales’ developer, Auke Tellegen, to construct scales that would each measure a major distinctive dimension currently embedded in the Clinical scales.

What are the test-retest reliabilities of the RC Scales?

These data are provided in Tables 4-4 and 4-5 of a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham , Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.”

What are the internal consistencies of the RC Scales?

These data are provided in Tables 4-4 and 4-5 of a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.”

Why don't scales 5 and 0 have corresponding RC Scales? Will they have RC Scales?

The RC Scales were designed to measure clinical phenomena. Scale 5 does not assess a currently recognized clinical disorder, and Scale 0 measures a normal–range personality trait. A shorter, restructured version of the MMPI-2, anchored by the RC Scales, is in development. It will include scales that assess constructs associated with Clinical Scales 5 and 0.

Are the RC Scales K-corrected? Why not?

The RC Scales are not K-corrected. Research indicates that the K correction either does not affect the validity of the Clinical Scales (in clinical settings) or significantly attenuates the validity of the scales (in non-clinical settings). Therefore, a K correction is not applied on the RC Scales.

Will the RC Scales facilitate a shortened version of the MMPI-2 test in the near future?

A shorter, restructured version of the MMPI-2, anchored by the RC Scales, is in development.


Documentation on the RC Scales

What kind of documentation is available for the RC Scales?

A Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation” includes: an introduction providing the rationale for creating the RC Scales, information about how the scales were developed, detailed psychometric data on the reliability and validity of the RC Scales, recommendations for interpreting the RC Scales, case examples illustrating RC Scale interpretation, and a discussion of future directions in RC Scale research and application. This document also contains extensive appendixes providing the item composition of the scales and raw to uniform T-score conversion tables. (Available from Pearson Assessments, Product # 29433). A number of publications on the RC Scales have appeared in the journal and book literature subsequent to publication of the Test Monograph.

Selected RC Scale bibliography

Do you have references or articles on the RC Scales?

A Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation” includes: an introduction providing the rationale for creating the RC Scales, information about how the scales were developed, detailed psychometric data on the reliability and validity of the RC Scales, recommendations for interpreting the RC Scales, case examples illustrating RC Scale interpretation, and a discussion of future directions in RC Scale research and application. This document also contains extensive appendixes providing the item composition of the scales and raw to uniform T-score conversion tables. (Available from Pearson Assessments, Product # 29433). A number of publications on the RC Scales have appeared in the journal and book literature subsequent to publication of the Test Monograph.

Selected RC Scale bibliography


Relationship of the RC Scales to the Clinical Scales

Do the RC Scales replace the Clinical Scales? Can I disregard the Clinical Scales and look only at the RC Scales profile?

The RC Scales do not replace the Clinical Scales. They provide a more clearly focused assessment of the primary distinctive components of the Clinical Scales. The RC Scales can serve as the overall framework or roadmap for interpreting the MMPI-2; the Clinical, Content, and Supplementary Scales provide corroboration and elaboration of these results.

Is there a plan to discontinue the Clinical Scales?

There is no plan to discontinue the Clinical Scales.

Are the Clinical Scales less valid than the RC Scales?

Research has established that in comparison with the Clinical Scales, the RC Scales have comparable to improved convergent validity and substantially improved discriminant validity.

How do I explain discrepancies between what the Clinical Scales and the RC Scales report?

When differences occur, they are not “discrepancies” but, rather, clarifications provided by the RC Scales as a result of removing the non-specific variance associated with Demoralization, the K correction, and the subtle items. If a Clinical Scale is elevated and its RC Scale counterpart is not, the correlates associated with that scale should not be emphasized in the interpretation (unless indicated by other MMPI-2 scale scores). If an RC Scale is elevated and its Clinical Scale counterpart is not, the correlates associated with that scale should be incorporated in the interpretation.

Do the RC scales contain the same items as the Clinical Scales? Which items were dropped, were there new items included?

Each of the RC Scales includes items that also appear on the original Clinical Scales and others that do not. The item composition of the RC scales is provided in Appendix A of a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.” (Available from Pearson Assessments, Product # 29433)

What are the intercorrelations of the RC Scales, and in comparison, of the Clinical Scales?

The RC Scales are substantially less intercorrelated than the Clinical Scales. These data are provided in Tables 4-6 through 4-12 of a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.”

Multiple elevations on the Clinical Scales make sense because clinical syndromes are complex and there are high rates of comorbidity with disorders. How do the simplified, non-overlapping RC Scales address this?

Multiple elevations on the Clinical Scales may stem from comorbidity OR demoralization, making it difficult to accurately determine the presence of comorbid and complex syndromes. Removal of demoralization from the RC Scales enables users to more accurately identify the necessary elements of a syndrome or the occurrence of comorbidity.


Relationship of the RC Scales to the Content Scales

What’s the difference between the RC Scales and the Content Scales?

Although they have similar labels, there is relatively limited overlap between the RC Scales and the Content Scales. The primary differences between the two sets of scales are that several Content Scales are highly saturated with Demoralization (Anxiety, Depression, Low Self- Esteem, Work Interference, and Negative Treatment Indicators), and some Content Scales confound different elements assessed by the RC Scales. For example, the Content Scale Anti-social Practices confounds characteristics assessed by RC3 and RC4, and the Content Scale Bizarre Mentation confounds characteristics assessed by RC6 and RC8.


Information about specific RC Scales

What is the demoralization scale?

The demoralization scale provides an appraisal of the test-taker’s current overall sense of well-being, whether expressing satisfaction with life or disatisfation and even despair. As such, it can be the starting point for RC scale interpretation. It was constructed by extracting from the Clinical Scales the general complaint or malaise factor, which is present in all the Clinical Scales as well as in most other MMPI-2 scales.

Clinical Scale 3 and RC3 don’t measure the same thing and are not highly correlated. Why is that?

Clinical Scale 3 is a heterogeneous measure that includes several distinctive components. The primary component is somatic complaints, which are assessed by RC1. A smaller, secondary component is disavowal of cynicism, which is assessed by RC3. However, because disavowal of cynicism is negatively correlated with psychopathology, the scoring for the scale was reversed, and RC3 was labeled Cynicism. The somatic preoccupation coupled with naiveté reflected in a highly elevated score on Scale 3, will appear as a combination of an elevated score on RC1 and a low score (below T score 40) on RC3.

What’s the difference between Content Scale Cynicism and RC3?

The Content Scale Cynicism (CYN) is broader in scope than RC3. RC3 focuses exclusively on non-self-referential beliefs in human badness, while CYN also includes self-referential beliefs, which are assessed by RC6. Therefore, the RC Scales allow for a differentiation between self-referential and non-self-referential beliefs in others’ malevolence, whereas these two components are confounded in the Content Scale CYN.


Interpretation of the RC Scales, including code-type information

How should I incorporate the RC Scales into my evaluations?

The RC Scales can serve as a roadmap for interpreting an MMPI-2 protocol by providing a more clearly focused assessment of the distinctive components of the Clinical Scales. The user can corroborate interpretive inferences indicated by the RC Scales by considering scores on the Clinical Scales, code types, Clinical Subscales (Harris-Lingoes), Content Scales, and certain Supplementary Scales.

Can I apply existing Clinical Scale code-type research to the RC Scales?

Existing MMPI-2 code-type research is not usable with the RC Scales. However, the RC Scales address more directly the interpretive challenges that led to the development of the code-type interpretation approach. Detailed discussion of this subject is provided in a Test Monograph by Tellegen, Ben-Porath, McNulty, Arbisi, Graham, & Kaemmer (2003), titled “The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales: Development, Validation, and Interpretation.”

Do I use the traditional cut-offs to evaluate elevations on the RC Scales?

Yes, with the same precautions one should use for employing any recommended cut-offs, namely that they be considered guidelines identifying points at which the interpretive focus should shift rather than as fixed points demarcating qualitative change.

How do I interpret an RC Scales profile where demoralization is the only elevated scale?

Such a profile would indicate that the individual is generally unhappy and dissatisfied with her or his life and is likely to describe herself or himself as experiencing anxiety and depression. The person likely has low self-esteem, tends to ruminate about perceived failures, and expects to fail in future endeavors. Very high scores on this scale reflect the presence of hopelessness and helplessness, and a sense of inefficacy, self-doubt, and dysphoric affect, all of which have been identified as risk factors for suicide.

How do I interpret an MMPI-2 with a well-defined and elevated code type in the absence of elevations on the RC Scales? Should I rely on the code type?

Research indicates that in cases where the RC Scales and the Clinical Scales show elevation differences, the RC Scales provide a more accurate indication of the test-taker's functioning. This would include cases where the elevated Clinical Scales form a well-defined code type. Research has also indicated that the RC Scales can account for information predicted by well-defined Clinical Scale code types. Taken together, these findings indicate that in a case where the Clinical Scales form a well-defined code type and the RC Scales are within normal limits the RC Scale findings should be emphasized in the interpretation.

In some instances, differences between scores on the RC Scales and scores on the Clinical Scales result from the application of the K correction. The correction is added to five of the Clinical Scales (1, 4, 7, 8, and 9), but is not used with the RC Scales. Research indicates that in such cases the RC Scale scores and the non-K-corrected Clinical Scale scores provide a more accurate indication of the test-taker's functioning.

What is a well-defined code type (for the original Clinical Scales)?

In a well-defined code type, the T scores of the scales comprising the code type reach an elevation of 65 or higher, and are five or more T score points higher than the T scores on the remaining Clinical Scales.

How do I interpret an elevation on one or more RC Scales in the absence of any elevations on the Clinical Scales?

Elevation on an RC Scale in the absence of elevation on its Clinical Scale counterpart is most likely to occur when the absence of demoralization, a low score on K, or subtle items artifactually attenuate the score on the Clinical Scale. The elevated score on the RC Scale will give a more accurate indication of the individual’s functioning and should be incorporated in the interpretation.


Using the RC Scales in forensic assessment

Can the RC Scales be used in forensic assessments?

Depending on the jurisdiction in which the forensic examiner practices, one of two legal standards for the admissibility of MMPI-2-based expert testimony apply. The “Daubert” standard requires that the scientific validity of any inferences based on the RC Scales be documented. The "Frye" test requires that a procedure relied on by the expert be generally accepted in the discipline. Forensic opinions guided by the RC Scales can withstand a Daubert challenge, provided that the assessor has relied appropriately on the RC Scales in supporting her or his opinion, and she or he is sufficiently well versed in the literature on these measures. Because it is rarely necessary to rely on the RC Scales exclusively in MMPI-2 interpretation, and since other generally accepted MMPI-2 sources are likely to agree with inferences indicated by the RC Scales, in most cases the RC Scales can also be relied upon in jurisdictions governed by the Frye test.

Selected RC Scale bibliography

What if I don't want the RC Scales in my report as a forensic psychologist?

The RC Scales are part of the standard output for the MMPI-2 Extended Score Report. A user may choose not to incorporate them in an MMPI-2 interpretation.

As a forensic psychologist, what do I say about the validity and reliability of the Clinical Scales now that we have the RC Scales, which have improved convergent and discriminant validity? How does this affect past cases for which I depended upon the Clinical Scales?

The validity and reliability data on the Clinical Scales remain unchanged. Interpretation of RC Scale scores as recommended can serve to enhance further the validity of MMPI-2 interpretation.


Using the RC Scales with nonclinical populations

Do the RC Scales have utility with non-clinical populations that typically produce within normal limits profiles, like personnel/employee testing and child custody evaluations?

The RC Scales are equally effective with clinical and non-clinical populations. In some cases, the absence of demoralization in individuals assessed in non-clinical settings results in artifactual attenuation of scores on the Clinical Scales. Because the RC Scales are less saturated with demoralization, this artifact is less likely to occur and more specific problems (e.g., antisocial behavior) will more likely be identified.


Availability of the RC Scales in MMPI test materials and reports

Why are the RC Scales only available in the MMPI-2 Extended Score Report?

A shorter, restructured version of the MMPI-2, anchored by the RC Scales, is in development. Interpretive reports will be available for the restructured version of the MMPI-2. Q Local users can print a free Extended Score Report (no usage required) for any previously printed MMPI-2 interpretive report to obtain scores on the RC Scales and the non-K-corrected Clinical Scales. If you utilize our mail-in scoring service for MMPI-2 interpretive reports, simply request a free Extended Score Report when you submit your pre-paid interpretive report answer sheet to us for processing (will be provided in addition to your interpretive report).

When will the RC Scales appear in other reports?

A shorter, restructured version of the MMPI-2 test, anchored by the RC Scales, is in development. Interpretive reports will be available for the restructured version of the MMPI-2.

When will information on the RC Scales appear in the MMPI-2 manual?

In the next edition of the manual.

Current interpretive guidelines suggest that clinicians incorporate the RC Scales and non-K-corrected T scores, so why does Pearson Assessments offer interpretive reports that don’t include these measures?

It is the opinion of the author of the current interpretive reports offered for the MMPI-2 test that not enough is known about these developments to warrant their incorporation in the interpretive reports (The Minnesota Reports). A shorter, restructured version of the MMPI-2, anchored by the RC Scales, is in development. Interpretive reports will be available for this version of the MMPI-2. Q Local users can print a free Extended Score Report (no usage required) for any previously printed MMPI-2 interpretive report. If you utilize our mail-in scoring service for MMPI-2 interpretive reports, simply request a free Extended Score Report when you submit your pre-paid interpretive report answer sheet to us for processing (will be provided in addition to your interpretive report).


Availability of training on the RC Scales

Where can I get training on the RC Scales?

Training on the RC Scales is included in workshops offered by the
MMPI® Workshops and Symposia

For more information, contact the workshop coordinator:

E-mail: testdiv@umn.edu
Phone: 612-627-4821
Mailing address:
University of Minnesota Press
111 3rd Ave S Ste 290
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520


Information about conducting research on the RC Scales

I'm interested in conducting research on the RC Scales, who can help me with this?

Contact Beverly Kaemmer, manager of the Test Division at the University of Minnesota Press:

E-mail: kaemm002@umn.edu
Phone: 612-627-1963
Mailing address:
University of Minnesota Press
111 3rd Ave S Ste 290
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520


Information on purchasing the RC Scales

How do I purchase the RC Scales?

A profile form and answer keys for the RC Scales have been added to the MMPI-2 hand-scoring materials, visit Pearson Assessments to order . The RC Scales profile is provided in the MMPI-2 Extended Score Report. All versions of Q Local™ software include the new RC scales.

How can I get the RC Scales for a previously scored MMPI-2 Extended Score Report record in my Q Local software?

The RC Scales were launched in January 2003 in the MICROTEST Q software version 5.05 “patch.” The RC Scales are included in this version and all software versions higher than 5.05 “patch” and in all versions of the Q Local software. Simply reprint any previously scored MMPI-2 Extended Score Report records to receive the RC Scales. No additional usages will be required for previously scored records