What Is The MMPI Test And What Does It Say About You?

By Joanna Smykowski

Updated December 11, 2018

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Known as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the MMPI Test is a psychological exam that takes a look at your personality traits as well as your psychopathology to determine if you have mental health issues. With two different primary versions available (the MMPI-2 and the MMPI-2-RF), this test is a long form, true/false test that helps you find out more about yourself. While it's typically used only for doctors to test patients who are suspected of mental health problems, it is also available in other ways as well.

The Types Of The MMPI Test

There are three different MMPI Tests that are available, though only two are primarily used for adults, and one is intended only for teenagers. The MMPI-2, MMPI-2-RF and the MMPI-A. With the MMPI-2 you have a 567 question, true/false test. Though it's the older version of the test, it's still the most commonly known and used version because it has a large base of research and more psychologists are familiar with this type of test. Though some psychiatrists have switched to the newer version.

The MMPI-2-RF was published for the first time in 2008 and contains a smaller number of questions. In fact, it has 338 questions (over 200 questions fewer) that are still only true/false. That means it's very easy to fill out as long as you are completely honest. Because it's newer and shorter, it also takes less time to fill out. Some psychiatrists have started using this process rather than the older one because it is a more advanced version. With more incoming research it's likely that additional psychiatrists will start to look at this test as a better version and will start to use it more frequently.

Finally, the MMPI-A is used exclusively with teenagers. Just because someone is younger does not mean that they do not have mental health conditions or that they may not be showing the signs and symptoms of them. With this test, it is possible for psychiatrists to find out more about what is happening for your child and also to start in on a treatment plan that can help them overcome the problems that they are facing. This test is used in conjunction with other methods to help form an accurate and thorough diagnosis.

What You'll Learn

Some different aspects are tested with the MMPI-2 Test. In fact, 10 different clinical scales will assess 10 different categories of abnormal behavior and use four different validity scales that help to determine if answers are truthful and how the individual feels about the test-taking process in the first place. All of this adds up to a more accurate understanding of the individual's personality and whether or not the test can be taken accurately as written or if it needs to be adjusted because of the validity scores of the individual.


The first thing that is tested is hypochondriasis, which evaluates vague or nonspecific complaints that pertain to the functioning of the body. These are focused on the abdomen and back and tend to continue to persist against the individual despite having negative medical tests. In this test, which consists of 32 different items, the monitoring focuses on poor physical health as well as gastrointestinal problems.

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Next up is the depression scale, which consists of 57 different items and measures level of clinical depression. This is done by looking at the individual's morale, a lack of hope in the future and any level of dissatisfaction that an individual may have with their life in general.


This scale consists of 60 items, which means we're moving up slightly in questions and with this scale, there are five different aspects monitored. These aspects are shyness, cynicism, neuroticism, poor physical health, and headaches.

Psychopathic Deviate

Here the test looks at the type of social maladjustment that the individual might have as well as whether they have strong pleasant experiences. It will also take a look at complaints or problems that the individual has with family and other authority figures as well as their level of boredom, social alienation, and self-alienation. There are 50 total questions in this section.


With 56 items on this section of the test, this scale looks at things like activity versus passivity, personal sensitivity, interests, hobbies and aesthetic preferences. In general, it looks at the rigidity of the individual's conformance to stereotypes for masculine or feminine activities and roles.


At 40 items, this is one of the shortest sections, but it looks at interpersonal sensitivity as well as suspiciousness and even the morality of self-righteousness that an individual has. This section of the questionnaire is a little different because it seeks to trip up those who may have paranoid tendencies by offering items that acknowledge paranoid thoughts or delusional thoughts.


With this scale, you have 48 items that will test the inability of an individual to resist a specific type of action or thought even if they may be maladaptive. It looks at abnormal fears, difficulty in concentration, guilty feelings and thoughts or self-criticisms in its view of obsessive-compulsive behaviors.


At 78 items, this is the longest section of the test and evaluates strange thoughts and perceptions, poor relationships with the family, problems concentrating, problems with impulse control, social alienation, disturbing questions on self-worth and self-identity and even lack of interests and sexual problems.


Next up is a 46 item section that looks at more mild degrees of elated but unstable moods, psychomotor excitement, flighty thoughts and ideas and overactivity in general, including irritability and egocentricity. It does this by looking at behavior and cognitive functions.

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Social Introversion

Finally, there's a 69 item section that looks at how introverted or extroverted the individual is. It looks at limited social skills, preference for being alone versus with others and whether the individual does well with a group of friends or not.

What Validity Scores Look For

Of course, no test that's taken entirely on your own could be considered an objective scale of your capabilities and thoughts. People will often attempt to lie, fib or otherwise tweak the test to fit their interests or desires for the outcome. That's why there are validity sections for the test as well. There are four different parts to this section of the test, and each one is important in making sure that the individual is truthful or to what degree they may not be truthful.


This 15 question section looks outright lies that the individual does tell or is willing to tell. That way, it's possible to determine whether or not the individual has lied throughout the rest of the test and create a more accurate picture of the individual.

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Yes, that's supposed just to say 'F' because this scale is just an 'F' scale and takes up 60 different items. It looks at unusual or atypical test answers, like if an individual were to answer in a pattern or if too many answers seem to contradict each other.

Back F

This section looks at the same things as the F scale and makes sure that the second half of the test is answered properly. It looks at whether answers may contradict each other or if there is any pattern to the answers that make the test invalid.


Finally, the 'K' scale consists of 30 different items and looks at things like self-control, interpersonal relationships, and family relationships. When all of these are scored this section of the test can recognize potential psychopathology for those who may fall into normal ranges in other areas of the test.

Finishing Your Test

Psychologists will take a look at the test when it is completed and form a more comprehensive understanding or diagnosis of the patient in question. It's important to note that this test alone can't form a complete picture of the individual and other review and evaluation will be used as well. The psychologist you work with will be able to help with the diagnosis and will be able to start a path toward treatment as well, as a result of this type of testing. Of course, you'll need to find a psychiatrist.

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BetterHelp is a great place to find the help that you're looking for because it's an online system for you to connect with a psychiatrist. You'll be able to talk to someone right from the comfort of your own home, without ever having to go to a psychiatrist's office. That means you'll be able to stay where you feel the most open and comfortable, and then you'll be able to find someone that you like best as well. They'll be able to work with you on any problems you're having or anything you need to talk about, so you can start on a path toward healing.

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