Interpretation of the MMPI


Scoring of the MMPI is a simple procedure, interpreting those scores however is an extremely difficult process that only becomes easier with experience. Interpretation of the MMPI scales demands a high level of psychometric, clinical, personological, and professional sophistication, as well as a strong commitment to the ethical principles of test usage. People how have not had adequate training in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of the MMPI should not analyze their own or another's scores without the help of a qualified professional.

For an explanation of the ten major scales, click here.

What's Significant... And What's Not

For each of the scales the control group provided the basis for what the standard score would be. T scores (mean of 50 and standard deviations of 10) were used to compute the standard scores. Therefore a T score of 50 is at the mean of the control groups, and a T score of 70 is two deviations above the mean and considered significantly elevated for the MMPI. Due to new norms, on the MMPI-2 a T score of 65 is significant.


Validity Scales

L- Lie- A significantly high score signifies the testee is lying, or they may be extremely pious or religious.

F- Infrequency- Significantly high scores on this scale bring the validity of a profile into question.

K- Correction- Significantly high scores on this scale indicate a testee is defensive and attempting to hide something.

Content Scales

Hs- Hypochondriasis- Significantly high scores indicate that testee expresses stress in physical terms

D- Depression- Significantly high scores indicate depression and hopelessness

Hy- Conversion Hysteria- Significantly high scores indicate that testee expresses emotion without insight

Pd- Psychopathic Deviate- Significantly high score indicates that testee is maladaptive and fights authority

Mf- Masculinity-Feminity- Significantly high score indicates a rejection of gender roles

Pa- Paranoia- Significantly high scores indicate that the testee has an exaggerated view of others feelings towards himself

Pt- Psychasthenia- a significantly high score indicates obsessive worrying

Sc- Schizophrenia- People with schizophrenia usually score between 70 and 80, but never above 90. Scores that high indicate a situational problem, not schizophrenia.

Ma- Hypomania- People with significantly high scores have too much energy and are unable to get anything done

Si- Social Introversion- Scores above 70 indicate that the testee is withdrawn


Initial Forms of Interpretation and the Two-Point Code

The original approach to interpretation of the scores was simple. Most users assumed that an individual with characteristics similar to those of one of the criterion groups would likewise have a significant elevation on the appropriate scale. Hence, psychopaths would have a high elevation on the Pd Scale. However, interpretation of the scores is not that simple. Experience soon showed that a disturbed individual could have elevations on all the scales. Psychologists therefore turned towards pattern analysis, but studies showed that this approach was equally futile.

At this point, clinicians began to look at the possible advantages of analyzing the two highest scales. By conducting research on people who showed specific two-point codes, developers could empirically determine the meaning of MMPI elevations. The validity of the MMPI was therefore increased by finding homogenous profile patterns determining the characteristics of people who displayed these patterns. Hence new criterion groups were created, comprised of people grouped on the basis of their MMPi profiles. This approach to interpreting the MMPI scores was more effective than any previous attempts.


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