How to Read MMPI-2 Score Results

Updated April 17, 2017

It took 50 years for a team of researchers in Minnesota headed by James Butcher to develop the second version of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. The MMPI-2 is distinguished from other personality tests in that it was developed by administering random questions to different groups of psychiatric patients. The test compares your response profile to typical responses given by individuals who suffer from schizophrenia, paranoia or antisocial personality disorder, for example. The interpretation of MMPI scores can be done only by a professional qualified by a state licensing board to give psychological tests. However, a layperson can apply certain general rules and guidelines to help him better understand the score results they obtain.

Look at statements made in the score results about your test-taking attitude. These are based on validity scales of the MMPI-2 called the L, F, K and ? scales. If your test result says you were presenting yourself as unrealistically virtuous, for example, that means that you scored high on the Lie Scale (L) of the MMPI-2. If the score report says you were faking a mental illness, you scored high on the Frequency (F) scale. If the score report says you were defensive, you scored high on the (K) scale. If you left out a lot of items the Cannot Say (?) scale will be elevated. If you were randomly answering the questions, you scored high on the TRIN and VRIN and Fb, subscales of the MMPI-2. If your validity scales were significantly elevated, no further test interpretation will be offered.

Examine what the report says about your basic personality patterns. This information is coming from the 10 clinical scales used to evaluate the presence of mental illness. Issues such as depression, schizophrenia, acting out or paranoia will be mentioned if you had elevated clinical scales.

Read the next statements on the report, which will be based on the content scales of the MMPI-2 which are sub-factors of the original 10 clinical scales. If there are statements that you have anxiety, bizarre thoughts or health concerns, they were derived based on the content scales of the MMPI-2.

Study the additional narratives, which were derived from various and numerous sub-scales developed over the years, the most common of which is the Harris-Lingoes sub-scale. Statements such as depression over subjective experiences, lack of energy and lack of thought clarity were likely derived from these scales.

Ask questions if you do not understand what the report says. Licensed mental health professionals are required by their licensing boards to present information to you in a way that can be understood by the lay person.


Do not attempt to interpret results by yourself -- even licensed mental health professionals usually use a computer program to score and interpret the MMPI-2 as it is very complex.

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About the Author

Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.