The Contribution of Objective Personality Measures to Psychological Assessment

March 2, 2000 (references updated 2-3-00)

Alvin E. House, Ph.D.

Illinois State University

I. The role of “testing” in psychological assessment--Different questions and different tests:

Personality -- What is your client like? What concurrent or future predictions/expectations are reasonable?

Adjustment -- What problems does your client have? How do they handle conflict, stress, environmental challenges?

Diagnosis -- Does you client have a Mental Disorder? How would their situation be best characterized in terms of DSM-IV or ICD-9-CM?

II. Tests and other instruments we may discuss today:

objective personality tests

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, 2nd Edition (MMPI-2)

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, 5th Edition (16PF)

Basic Personality Inventory (BPI)

Carlson Psychological Survey (CPS)

brief, self-report measures

Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) depression

Inventory to Diagnosis Depression (IDD) depression

Hamilton Depression Inventory (HDI) depression

Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) anxiety

Sheehan Patient Rated Anxiety Questionnaire anxiety

Life Events & Concerns problem list


clinical interview

Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview-Revised (PDI-R) structured

Structured Clinical Interview for DSM (SCID) structured

intellectual ability & achievement tests

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 3rd Edition (WAIS-III) IQ

Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA) academic

Wide Range Achievement Test, Edition 3 (WRAT-3) academic

Peabody Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Edition (PIAT-3) academic

Shipley Institute of Living Scale brief IQ

Kaufman-Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT) brief IQ

other cognitive measures (neuropsychological assessment)

Trail Making Test visual scanning/motor seq. & cognitive flexibility

Rey Complex Figure construction/memory

Temporal Orientation Test orientation

III. Clinical examples

Promise at a grave

David B. (pseudonym) was a 30-year-old, divorced male charged with domestic violence and aggravated discharge of a firearm. His attorney refers him to you for evaluation. Mr. B. went out drinking with live-in girlfriend, they fought, she left with someone else, taking his truck. He went home, broke in (keys in truck), she come back: argue, argue, physical fight, argue, he gets gun and fires into ceiling, she takes phone and leaves. Police come and arrest.

Mr. B.'s father died about two years previously, they were very close. His marriage dissolved shortly after: wife repeatedly unfaithful. Had been dating GF for about 18 months and cohabiting in his home for past year. No history of violence in either relationship reported.

You see him for three sessions of varying length.

Testing: Temporal Orientation Test

clinical interview

Life Events & Concerns problem list

Hamilton Depression Inventory (HDI)

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2nd Ed. (MMPI-2)

Kaufman-Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT)

Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA)

Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview-Revised (PDI-R)

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)

Mr. B. has a history of a DUI arrest several years ago and you obtain a copy of his evaluation: only alcohol related driving offense, BAC = .15 (legal <.08), Mortimer-Filkins score 10 (nonproblematic), Uniform Report classification Level 1 (lowest possible).

Mr. B. had been referred to domestic violence treatment program and you interview counselor: very cooperative, counselor interview GF--confirmed absence of prior violence, counselor questions resolution of loss of father.

Mr. B. reported he had not used alcohol since arrest and at visit to father's grave swore never to drink again. Mr. B. and GF are seeing each other again.

DSM-IV Classification

Axis I: 303.00 Alcohol Intoxication (on evening/morning of incident)

Axis II: V71.09 No disorder on Axis II.


John W. is a 19-year-old male referred by the Public Defender's office for psychological assessment. He has been convicted of 1st degree murder and in the penalty phase a death sentence is being considered.

You see him for four sessions of varying length.

Testing: clinical interview

Carlson Psychological Survey (CPS)

Inventory to Diagnosis Depression, Lifetime Version

Temporal Orientation Test

Wide Range Achievement Test, 3rd Edition (WRAT-3)

Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)

Rey Complex Figure

Shipley Institute of Living Scale

Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview-Revised (PDI-R)

Peabody Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Edition (PIAT-3)

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test, 3rd Edition (WAIS-III)

Trail Making Test

You obtain copies of the police reports; and Mr. W's elementary, junior high, and high school transcripts.

You interview Mr. W's parents, the dean of students from his high school, and his minister.

Intelligence is low average; academic skills are low average to borderline; Total Reading grade equivalent from PIAT was 7.1, Reading Comprehension from PIAT was 6.5, and Reading Recognition was 7.6; Reading (oral word recognition) from WRAT was 6th grade. Neuropsychological measures are normal. Mr. Carlson was expelled during his senior year of high school for excessive absences. He was always regular classes.

DSM-IV Classification:

Axis I: V71.09 No disorder on Axis I.

Axis II: V71.09 No disorder on Axis II.

Mr. W. maintains hope that someday he will obtain his freedom from prison.


Living in fear

Jean S. is a 37-year-old, divorced female referred to you by her attorney for psychological assessment with regards to a Workman's Compensation claim.

You see her for one session.

Testing: clinical interview

Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-IV)

Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)

Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)

Sheehan Patient Rated Anxiety Questionnaire

Ms. S. worked as a guard for several years in a maximum security prison. She was involved in several incidents: she was cut by an inmate with a razor and tested repeatedly for HIV; she was assaulted by an inmate with a knife, the inmate was shot by another guard; repeated threats were made against her daughter by an inmate. Ms. S. Unhappiness developed between Ms. S. and the prison administration over issues of work safety. Ms. S. no longer works at the prison, a Workman Comp claim is pending, any your opinion of Ms. S's mental health is desired.

DSM-IV Classification

Axis I: 309.89 Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Depressive symptoms noted.

Axis II: V71.09 No disorder on Axis II.

After your evaluation the results of an MMPI-2 evaluation are shared with you. You are asked how this affects your opinion.


IV. References

Archer, R.P. (1997). MMPI-A: Assessing Adolescent Psychopathology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Beck, A.T. & Freeman, A. (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Carlson, K.A. (1982). Carlson Psychological Survey, Manuall . Port Huron, MI: Research Psychologists Press.

Graham, J.R. (1990). MMPI-2: Assessing personality and psychopathology. New York: Oxford Press.

Greene, R.L. (1991). The MMPI-2/MMPI: An Interpretative Manual. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Jackson, D.N. (1989). Basic Personality Inventory Manual. Port Huron, MI: Sigma Assessment Systems.

Kroll, J. (1988). The Challenge of the Borderline Patient. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Krug, S.E. (1981). Interpreting 16PF Profile Patterns. Champaign, Illinois: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, Inc.

Lewak, R.W., Marks, P.A., & Nelson, G.E. (1990). Therapist Guide to the MMPI & MMPI-2. Muncie, IN: Accelerated Development Inc.

Meyer, R.G. (1993). The Clinician's Handbook (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Millon, T. & Davis, R. (1996). Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Millon, T. & Davis, R. (2000). Personality Disorders in Modern Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Newmark, C.S. (1996). Major Psychological Assessment Instruments (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Othmer, E., Penick, E.C., Powell, B.J., Read, M.R., & Othmer, S.C. (1989). Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview, Revised (PDI-R) Manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.

Othmer, E. & Othmer, S.C. (1994). The Clinical Intrerview Using DSM-IV: Volume 1: Fundamentals. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.

Reilley, R.R. & Reilley, B.A. (1991). MMPI-2 Tutorial Workbook. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Reynolds, W.M. & Kobak, K.A. (1995). Hamilton Depression Inventory: A self-report version of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Odessa: FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

Stein, L.A.R., Graham, J.R., & Williams, C.L. (1995). Detecting Fake-Bad MMPI-A Profiles. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65, 415-427.

Steinberg, M. (1993). Interviewer's Guide to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.