Guidelines for Developing MMPI Translations

Detailed guidelines for developing MMPI translations as well as contact information for translations at the University of Minnesota Press.

Translation and Standardization Project Director

The initial step in the development of translations of the Press’s instruments is the identification of a Translation and Standardization Project Director, a researcher who will supervise the development of the translation and ultimately declare it ready for review, and will supervise the collection of normative and clinical data. This person should be from the country or culture for which the translation is being developed and must be a credible authority in the area of personality assessment, diagnosis, and psychopathology, preferably a bilingual academic psychologist. They must be fluent in the target language and must be at least reasonably conversant with English. They should also be knowledgeable about the current English-language assessment literature and about issues and methods relating to translations of psychological tests.

Development of the Translation

The translation should be developed by a team of translators (no fewer than two) fluent in the target language and in English, and knowledgeable about the English-language assessment literature and about issues and methods relating to the translation of psychological tests. The translators will independently translate the items and then compare the results, negotiating differences in the translation of items to obtain the most equivalent item.

Development of a Back-Translation

The translated items should then be back-translated into English by someone other than the translators to determine whether they are equivalent in meaning to the English-language original. Any substantive differences between an original and back-translated item should be considered by the translation team and revised as appropriate.

Evaluation by the Language Service Employed by the University of Minnesota

The language service reviews the translation to determine whether each translated item is equivalent in meaning to the English-language original. In assessing equivalence, attention is paid to vocabulary, idiom, syntax, and tone. The review will also note any errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The University sends the service’s report to the translation team, with the requirement that they respond to every suggestion in the report, either accepting the suggested change or providing a reason for not doing so. After the suggestions in the language service’s report have been incorporated into the translation, it should be submitted to the project director for final approval.

Conducting a Bilingual Test-Retest Study

To evaluate the adequacy of the translation, the original English-language version and the translation should be administered to a minimum of 35 bilingual individuals who are fluent in both languages and familiar with both cultures. Each participant must take the test in both languages in two separate sessions, counterbalanced so that roughly half take the English-language version first and the remaining participants take the translated version first. Their responses should then be used to examine scale score differences and discrepancies at the item level. The baseline for evaluating differences should be the normative test-retest correlations reported in the U.S. test manual and supporting documents.

Collection of Normative and Clinical Data

At a minimum, a valid normative sample that includes 250 men and 250 women demographically representative of the country of the target language is required, as well as a clinical sample of 100 men and 100 women representative of the country with valid MMPI profiles.

Scales That May Require Adaptation

It is often the case that in developing translations of the MMPI instruments some validity scales require adaptation from their original form in the English-language versions developed for use in the United States.

As a result of the translation, modifications in the choice and/or scoring of items may be indicated in some cases. In particular, items that comprise the infrequency scales should be examined to ensure that they are infrequently answered in the keyed direction by the normative and, if applicable, clinical samples (for Fp). Items that do not satisfy the infrequency definitions used to develop the English-language versions of these scales can be replaced with translated items that meet these criteria.

As a first step, the distribution of scale scores on the inconsistency scales for participants comprising the normative and clinical samples are examined and outliers removed from the samples.

When outliers have been removed, item endorsement frequencies of the infrequency scale items should be examined and items that do not meet the requirements used to assign them to an infrequency scale should be deleted and, if possible, replaced with appropriate/properly functioning items.

The distribution of scores on the infrequency scales for subjects in the normative and clinical samples are then examined and outliers are removed from the samples.

Developing Standard Scores

Two types of T scores are used with the MMPI instruments—linear and uniform. The same type of T score will be developed for the scales of translated instruments. Development of uniform T scores requires use of a software package provided by the Press.

Prepublication Report

A final report on Data Collection and Standardization of the Translation is to be submitted to the Press before approval for publication is granted. This report will include a description of how the steps just outlined were implemented, descriptive statistics, reliability estimates, standard errors of measurement, and validity findings, as well as scoring keys and T-score lookup tables for all scales scored on the English-language version of the instrument.

Contact Information:

University of Minnesota Press, Test Division
111 3rd Ave S Ste 290
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520


Updated 1/2024