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Crime and Personality Revisited - Effects of MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) Response Sets in Self-Report Studies

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: (August 1980) Pages: 245-251
S A Rathus; L J Siegel
Date Published
7 pages
This research study evaluated the relationship between delinquency and personality traits while controlling for the various Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) validity scales.
In recent years, researchers have begun to study the MMPI correlates of self-reported delinquent behavior. Self-report research has appeared promising for several reasons. It permits a clearer estimate of the dark figure of criminal and delinquent activity--those offenses which are underreported and underrecorded--and allows for comparisons of court-labeled offenders with nonlabeled offenders. It also facilitates investigation of causation and correlates among the general population. In this study, the MMPI-168 and a 21-item delinquent behavior questionnaire were administered to 1,680 high school students. The Psychopathic Deviate, Schizophrenia, and Hypomania scales of the MMPI-168 were correlated with delinquent behaviors, with and without control for the L, F, and K scales of the MMPI-168, considered separately and simultaneously. Controlling for F (a scale sensitive to aberrant behaviors) eliminated some relationships and significantly diminished the magnitude of others, while control for L and K (scales designed to identify respondent attempts to deny deviant behavior) had no significant effect. Studies of this nature that fail to control for the F type of response set may produce exaggerated or illusory results. Fourteen references are included. (Author abstract modified)