The MMPI-2 is a personality test that is scored on a computer. It has been around for over 75 years. It is THE standard test given to law enforcement and security candidates, as well as to applicants for other highly sensitive and responsible jobs. The Pennsylvania State Police Lethal Weapons Unit, that administers Pennsylvania’s Act 235 Armed Security Program, and The Pennsylvania State Police Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) require the MMPI-2 test to be part of the required psychological examination.
No applicant for either the Act 235 or Act 120 certification can pass their psychological exam if they do not pass the MMPI-2. It is THE test. So, why is it used? It is used because it is a highly validated, objective, self-report psychological inventory that has been proven to be an effective “wacko detector”. That means that it can be effectively used to determine whether or not an individual who took the test is psychologically stable.
This test has been given to hundereds of thousands of adult patients, sane and insane, with various psychiatric and medical disorders in different clinical settings (psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc.) over the past 75 plus years. It has also been administered to hundreds of thousands of “normal” adult individuals applying for responsible or sensitive jobs, and to “normal” adult indivuals as part of research studies. Thus, gigantic data bases exist that validate the validity and reliability of the MMPI test and MMPI-2 test (revised version) for a variety of clinical and job selection purposes.
The MMPI-2 test is very good at differentiating people with severe mental illness from people without severe mental illness. It is also very good at identifying the presence of different types of psychiatric disorders. The test has been proven to have good predictive validity and to correlate with other measures of mental health and mental illness. However, the value of the test is only as good as the clinical acumen and skill of the psychologist who interprets it.
Ph.D. level Psychologists go to school for many years to study psychological testing. Then, once a psychologist completes his or her graduate school training and internships, he or she must acquire many years of experience on the job. So, shoddy interpretations of the MMPI-2 will yield shoddy and invalid results.
WHY THE TEST IS REQUIRED
Understandably, the agencies that administrate these programs, and the general public, do not want unstable individuals carrying firearms as part of their job. People who carry firearms, especially as part of their job, must have the ability to exercise good judgment under pressure. The results of this test can identify people, based on their responses to the test, who can and who cannot exercise such good judgment.
There are 567 TRUE or FALSE items on the MMPI-2. They are actually NOT questions. The are statements. You must read each statement and mark each statement as either TRUE or FALSE. There are no RIGHT or WRONG answers. That is because what is true for you may be false for me. So, you cannot copy anyone’s answers. You cannot study for this test. However, you can prepare to take it so that you can pass it.
READING ABILITY AND LANGUAGE COMPETENCE
The results of an MMPI-2 test administration MUST BE interpreted based on the context in which the test is administered and the purpose for which it is being given. One must take into account the test taker’s level of education, reading and language competence and cultural background. The MMPI test items are written on approximately a 10th to 11th grade reading level. For purposes of Act 235 security officer evaluations and Act 120 police cadet evaluations, we are not doing deep psychoanalysis or personality analysis.
If a person takes the MMPI or MMPI-2 in English, but English is his or her second language, or he or she dropped out of school before the 10th grade, or had learning or reading problems, and as a result, he or she does not read and understand English very well (at least at an 11th grade level), then that person may misread and mis-interpret the meaning of the items–the result will be an invalid profile and the person could be marked as failing the test. This means that if a person has to take the test, he or she either needs to be competent at reading and comprehending English, OR, he or she should have someone to translate the items for the test taker into the test taker’s native or primary language, OR intepret the meaning of each of the items for him or her.
The point is that many of the items on the test are worded in a complex or tricky manner. Thus, the items can be easily misunderstood, given their fine nuances of meaning, and that can cause a person to fail the test even if he or she is not “psychiatrically crazy”.
HOW TO PASS THE MMPI-2
In order to pass this test:
1. You must be able to comprehend written English at ideally the 11th grade level.
2. If you cannot, you need to have someone interpret each stateement to you so you understand each statement.
3. If English is your second language, unless you read and understand English well, you should have someone translate the items to you in your native or primary language.
4. The test has built in LIE DETECTORS. So, you cannot fool the test or a savy psychologist examiner. If you try to appear too normal, you may come out as lying and then you may fail the MMPI test. After all there was only one Mother Theresa!
5. So, you do not want to appear too too perfect or good or “goody two shoes”. You should answer the items HONESTLY based on how you really feel and how you really behave. I mean we all get mad, we all make mistakes, we all get angry, we all have failed at things, and we all have fears and dislikes.
6. However, you also do not want to let it all hang out so to speak. The point is that you want to answer the items in a socially appropriate manner. In fact, a good part of the purpose of this test being used is to determine if you understand and comprehend the difference between what is SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE AND WHAT IS NOT! You must be able to exercise good judgment under pressure. That is a big part of what is being tested! Okay, now that you understand that….
7. So, if you come from a culture in which it is common to believe that spirits possess you, you probably should not admit to this on this test! However, if you really do believe that you are possessed by spirits, or if you do hear voices, be honest.
8. You must answer every item. Do not skip any items! If you skip items, you will not pass the test.
9. The answer to each item is either TRUE or FALSE! There is NO in between, or shades of gray here. So, if you read an item and you feel undecided–meaning you can go either way, you must FORCE A CHOICE. It is either MORE TRUE or MORE FALSE! It must be either TRUE or FALSE.
10. So, do NOT overthink the items. Go with your gut. Do NOT spend too much time on each item.
HERE ARE THE FIRST 75 OUT OF THE TOTAL 567 MMPI-2 TEST ITEMS IN ORDER
(EACH STATEMENT MUST BE MARKED “TRUE” OR “FALSE”)
NOTICE that some items are straightforward (e.g., “I have a good appetite.” and others are not.)
Also notice that some items have lots of NOTS, NEVERS and SOMETIMES in them. This is where you have to read very carefully and accurately.
1.I like mechanics magazines
2.I have a good appetite
3.I wake up fresh & rested most mornings
4.I think I would like the work of a librarian
5.I am easily awakened by noise
6.I like to read newspaper articles on crime
7.My hands and feet are usually warm enough
8.My daily life is full of things that keep me interested
9.I am about as able to work as I ever was
10.There seems to be a lump in my throat much of the time
11.A person should try to understand his dreams and be guided by or take warning from them
12.I enjoy detective or mystery stories
13.I work under a great deal of tension
14.I have diarrhea once a month or more
15.Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about
16.I am sure I get a raw deal from life
17.My father was a good man
18.I am very seldom troubled by constipation
19.When I take a new, I like to be tipped off on whom should be gotten next to
20.My sex life is satisfactory
21.At times I have very much wanted to leave home
22.At times I have fits of laughing & crying that I cannot control
23.I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting
24.No one seems to understand me
25.I would like to be a singer
26.I feel that it is certainly best to keep my mouth shut when I’m in trouble
27.Evil spirits possess me at times
28.When someone does me a wrong I feel I should pay him back if I can, just for the principle of the thing.
29.I am bothered by acid stomach several times a week
30.At times I feel like swearing
31.I have nightmares every few nights
32.I find it hard to keep my mind on a task or job
33.I have had very peculiar and strange experiences
34.I have a cough most of the time
35.If people had not had it in for me I would have been much more successful
36.I seldom worry about my heath
37.I have never been in trouble because of my sex behavior
38.During one period when I was a youngster I engaged in petty thievery
39.At times I feel like smashing things
40.Most any time I would rather sit and daydream than to do anything else
41.I have had periods of days, weeks, or months when I couldn’t take care of things because I couldn’t “get going”
42.My family does not like the work I have chosen ( or the work I intend to choose for my life work)
43.My sleep is fitful and disturbed
44.Much of the time my head seems to hurt all over
45.I do not always tell the truth
46.My judgment is better than it ever was
47.Once a week or oftener I feel suddenly hot all over without apparent cause
48.When I am with people I am bothered by hearing very queer things
49.It would be better if almost all laws were thrown away
50.My soul sometimes leaves my body
51.I am in just as good physical health as most of my friends
52.I prefer to pass by school friends, or people I know but have not seen for a long time, unless they speak to me first
53.A minister can cure disease by praying and putting his hand on your head
54.I am liked by most people who know me
55.I am almost never bothered by pains over the heart or in my chest
56.As a youngster I was suspended from school one or more times for cutting up
57.I am a good mixer
58.Everything is turning out just like the prophets of the Bible said it would
59.I have often had to take orders from someone who did not know as much as I did
60.I do not read every editorial in the newspaper everyday
61.I have not lived the right kind of life
62.Parts of my body often have feeling like burning, tingling, crawling, or like “going to sleep”
63.I have had no difficulty in starting or holding my bowel movement
64.I sometimes keep on at a thing until others lose their patience with me
65.I loved my father
66.I see things or animals or people around me that others do not see
67.I wish I could be as happy as others seem to be
68.I hardly ever feel pain in the back of the neck
69.I am very strongly attracted by members of my own sex
70.I used to like drop-the-handkerchief
71.I think a great many people exaggerate their misfortunes in order to gain the sympathy and help of others
72.I am troubled by discomfort in the pit of my stomach every few days or oftener
73.I am an important person
74.I have often wished I were a girl. (Or if you are a girl) I have never been sorry that I am a girl
75.I get angry sometimes
THE REST OF THE ACT 235 AND ACT 120 SECURITY OFFICERS’ AND POLICE OFFICERS’ PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAM
The MMPI is the hard part of the psychological exam. The easy part is the clinical psychological interview. All that I will say about passing the clinical interview portion of the psychological exam is:
1. BE HONEST, AND….
2. PASS THE ATTITUDE TEST. AND THE WAY YOU DO THAT IS BY DISPLAYING A GOOD AND APPROPRIATE AND POSITIVE ATTITUDE.