Definitions of MMPI/MMPI-2: Basic Scales and Sub-scales - 1 - 5
Consider "High" to be T65 or more on the MMPI-2. The higher a scale, the more the more pathological descriptors apply. Use the more benign descriptors with moderately high scores. Consider "low" to be about T40 and below.
The correlations I refer to are based on my study of 200 patients, forensic and selection clients.
1 (Hs) Hypochondriasis - Hathaway & McKinley (1940). (32 items). High: Preoccupation about one's health, a tendency to exaggerate physical symptoms, demanding, whiny, immature, little psychological mindedness, poor prognosis for any kind of treatment. As with any personality scale, it does not rule out organic disease. But nor does disease rule out the psychological need to exaggerate and complain- which scale 1 measures very well. Warning: Do not ask a High 1 how he or she is feeling unless you have nothing better to do. Low: Healthy, insightful, optimistic. Correlates mainly with Hysteria (3) .79.
2 (D) Depression - Hathaway & McKinley (1942). (57 items) Very High: Often associated with Major Depression. High: Clinical depression, pessimism, guilt feelings. Low: Absence of depression, cheerful, competitive. This is still the best scale of clinical depression. Correlates .93 with Depression- Obvious, .90 with D1 Subjective Depression, .83 D4 Mental Dullness, and .77 with D5 Brooding.
DO Depression-Obvious - Weiner (1948). (39 items). High: Overly sensitive, somatic complaints, tension, worry poor concentration, withdrawn, sad. Low: Healthy and outgoing. Correlates .96 with D1 Subjective Depression, and .93 with Depression. DO is D without DS. That is, this scale is depression without any denial of symptoms. DO is the most pathological part of scale 2.
DS Depression-Subtle - Weiner (1948). (18 items) High: Denial of problems. Many people with depression will describe their symptoms but still say that they are not depressed. Depression often involves conflicts over anger or turning anger inward. Low: Hostile, poor impulse control, somatic complaints. Correlates -.60 with Wiggins Manifest Hostility, .50 with L, .49 with Repression, and .48 with K. This is not a measure of subtle depression, but rather a component of depression, i.e. denial. If depression or psychopathology is ruled out, a high score is an indication of healthy functioning.
D1 Subjective Depression - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (32 items) High: Feeling depressed, sad and pessimistic. Low: Feeling cheerful and optimistic. It's the same as Depression-Obvious (.96).
D2 Psychomotor Retardation - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (14 items). High: Withdrawn, lethargic and nonparticipative. Low: Admits to aggressive feelings, active and involved. Correlates .60 with Wiggins Social Maladjustment, and .56 with scale 0, Social Introversion.
D3 Physical Malfunctioning - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (11 items) High: Preoccupation and complaints about poor health. Low: Indicates good physical health. Correlates .62 with both Wiggins Poor Health and Organic Symptoms, and .61 with scale 1- Hypochondriasis. The hypochondriacal-somatizing component of depression.
D4 Mental Dullness - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (15 items). High: Tired, tense, poor concentration and memory, sad and low self-esteem. Low: Feels relaxed, interested in life and self-confident. This scale can be the only elevated scale of depression in a "masked" depression. These people complain of trouble concentrating on schoolwork or on the job. Correlates .92 with Depression-Obvious, .86 with Sc4 Lack of Ego Mastery- Conative, and .81 with Sc3 Lack of Ego Mastery- Cognitive.
D5 Brooding - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (10 items). High: Ruminative, lethargic, overly sensitive and fears losing control of thought processes. Low: Feels happy and that life is worthwhile, energetic and self-confident. Correlates .91 with Subjective Depression, .90 with Wiggins Depression, and .86 Pd5 Self-Alienation.
3 (Hy) Hysteria - Hathaway & McKinley (1944). (60 items). High: Tendency to convert conflicts concerning dependency, sexuality or aggression, and express them as physical symptoms. Psychologically immature, self-centered, narcissistic, and insightless. Superficially friendly and naive but manipulative (Read: Freud’s “Studies on Hysteria,” it is brilliantly written and still holds true.”) There are neurotic and borderline levels of hysteria. Low: Overly constrictive, conventional and distrusting. An excellent scale that measures somatization, conversion reactions, denial, naiveté and manipulativeness. Correlates .79 with Hypochondriasis, .60 with Hysteria-Obvious, .56 with Hy4 Somatic Complaints, .51 with Hysteria-Subtle, and .49 with Paranoia-Subtle.
HyO Hysteria-Obvious - Weiner (1948). (32 items) High: Physical complaints, poor concentration, lethargy, tension, sexual anxiety and depression. Low: Healthy, little anxiety and depression, happy home life and few if any sexual fears. Correlates .89 with Hy3 Lassitude-Malaise, .86 with Depression-Obvious, and .86 with Wiggins Organic Symptoms. The most pathological parts of scale 3.
HyS Hysteria-Subtle - Weiner (1948). (28 items) High: Naively trusting, socially outgoing, denies aggressive impulses, the repression component to the hysteria complex. Low: Hostile and distrusting. Correlates .87 with Hy2 Need for Affection, and .81 with K. As with Depression-Subtle, Hysteria-Subtle does not measure Hysteria, but defensiveness. Also as with D-S, a high Hy-S in the absence of psychopathology is a sign of healthy functioning, not defensiveness.
Hy1 Denial of Social Anxiety - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (6 items). High: Extroverted, talkative and not easily influenced by customs or conventions. Low: Introverted and highly influenced by social standards. Correlates .90 with Pd3 Social Imperturbability, -.79 with scale 0 Social Introversion, .74 with Hysteria-Subtle, and .64 with Ma3 Imperturbability. Hy1, Pd3 and Ma3 all are similar components of psychopathology. They represent the component of narcissistic insensitivity in Hysteria, Psychopathic Deviate and Hypomania. Outside the context of psychopathology, they simply mean extroversion.
Hy2 Need for Affection - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (12 items) High: Naively optimistic and trusting, denies hostile feelings, strong need for attention and affection from others, and avoids confrontations. Low: Critical and suspicious of others, and admits to hostile and vengeful feelings. Correlates .87 with Hysteria-Subtle, -.74 with Wiggins Authority Conflicts, -.73 with Prejudice, and .72 with Pa3 Naiveté. Mental health professionals often have as their highest MMPI scales moderate elevations in Hysteria and Paranoia. Their 36/63 code is often the cause of much speculation. However, the elevations are usually due to Hy2 and Pa3, which assess trust and optimism in normals. We would expect high trust and optimism in mental health professionals. Within the context of psychopathology, it's the idealizing side of splitting. Hysterics and Paranoids can highly idealize a person. Their intimacies can be very intense and passionate. However, at the slightest disruption of the idealized self-object merger fantasy (the discovery that the other person is not controllable and has independent thoughts and feelings), the idealization flips over to devaluation. These scales are based on a person's beliefs and not object constancy or empathy. (Shameless plug: read more about this in my book, “I Love You Madly.”)
Hy3 Lassitude-Malaise - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (15 items). High: Vague somatic complaints poor concentration, poor appetite, feels depressed and an unhappy home environment. Low: Good health, energetic and satisfied.Correlates .89 with Hysteria-Obvious, and .83 with Depression. Hy3 is the depressive underbelly of Hysteria. The social extroversion of Hy1 is the superficial social flight from Hy-3 depression. The Hysteric would agree with Smokey Robinson’s song, "I've got to dance to keep from crying."
Hy4 Somatic Complaints - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (17 items). High: Repression and conversion of affect, nausea, fainting spells, pain, and denies hostility. Low: Denies above physical complaints, and admits to hostile feelings. Correlates .85 with Wiggins Organic Symptoms, .78 with Hysteria-Obvious, and .71 with Hypochondriasis. This is the somatoform component of Hysteria. The high correlation with Organic Symptoms is associated with pseudoneurological symptoms.
Hy5 Inhibition of Aggression - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (7 items). High: Decisive, sensitive, and denies aggressive impulses. Low: Admits to hostile impulses, indecisive and insensitive. Correlates .56 with Hysteria-Subtle, .50 with K, and -.46 with Wiggins Authority Conflicts. Hysterics say that they do not get angry. They use projective identification to provoke your anger and vicariously identify with it.
4(Pd) Psychopathic Deviate - Hathaway & McKinley (1944). (50 items). High: Poor impulse control, disidentification with societal standards, authority conflicts, marital and family conflicts, inconsiderate, narcissistic, poor judgment, extroverted, self-confident, hostile, parasitic and externalizes blame. Low: Overly conventional and conforming, passive, trusting and non-competitive. Correlates .72 with Pd-O, .63 with Pd5 Self Alienation, .63 with Schizophrenia, and .60 with D1 Subjective Depression. Pd is a great characterlogical scale of narcissism, externalization of blame, exploitiveness, and hostility. The subscales for Pd are very important in understanding elevations in Pd. Elevations in Pd can be due to a hostile, exploitive and truly psychopathic mentality, or moderate elevations can be an extroverted normal going through a divorce, or a normal teenager. If Pd-O is greater than Pd, then the more pathological interpretations should be used. If Pd-S is higher than Pd, then the more benign interpretations should be used. It is helpful to also look at the content scales of anger, authority problems, family problems etc. to help understand elevations in Pd.
PdO Psychopathic Deviate-Obvious - Weiner (1948).( 28 items) High: Feels misunderstood, poor concentration, feels rejected by family, acting out, may have used alcohol excessively, depression, and sexual conflicts. Low: Healthy relationships, denies alcohol abuse and does not express regret about past misdeeds. Not someone to marry. Correlates .89 with Pd5 Self Alienation, .83 with Wiggins Depression, and .82 with Dependency. Pd-O is more pathological than Pd, while Pd-S, Pd1 and Pd2 are less pathological than Pd.
PdS Psychopathic Deviate-Subtle - Weiner (1948). (22 items) High: Social imperturbability, family conflicts, difficulties with intimate relationships and impulsive. Low: Conforming, compliant and shy. Correlates .56 with Pd, .38 with Hy-S, and .37 with Hy1 Denial of Social Anxiety. A rather independent subtle scale. These people function very well, but tend to have marital problems often due to the abuse or neglect they experienced within their family of origin.
Pd1 Familial Discord - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (9 items). High: Home is unpleasant, lacking in love and understanding. Low: Family situation is loving and understanding without being overcontrolling or domineering. Correlates .86 with Wiggins Family Problems, and .69 with Sc1 Social Alienation. An important scale, since many people have elevations in Pd due to situational stress because of problems with parents or spouses (the scale does not differentiate between problems from the family of origin or the family of procreation). The Wiggins Family Problems scale is much better than Pd1, and the Family Problems content scale at measuring family distress. Those with high scores were often the scapegoats from their families of origin, and they may have an unconscious need to repeat feeling or being victimized in other intimate relationships.
Pd2 Authority Conflict - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (8 items). High: Resentful of standards, opinionated and rebellious. Low: Conforming and accepting of authority and not overly opinionated. Correlates -.44 with Repression, and only .40 with Pd. This is not really an authority conflict scale. Wiggins Authority Conflicts scale is a much better scale. The two are not even correlated. The scale should be called "Resentment."
Pd3 Social Imperturbability - Harris & Lingoes (1955). ( 6 items). High: Denial of social anxiety, exhibitionistic, loquacious and opinionated. Low: Social anxiety, shy and conforming. Correlates .90 with Hy1 Denial of Social Anxiety, -.86 with Wiggins Social Maladjustment, -.83 with Si Social Introversion, and .65 with Ma3 Social Imperturbability. This is the social insensitivity in Pd. These people can be described as friendly, but you wouldn't share your feelings with them. Hy1, Pd3 and Ma3 assess insensitivity within the context of psychopathology, but extroversion in normals.
Pd4 Social Alienation - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (13 items). High: Alienated, estranged, feels misunderstood, unhappy and unloved, externalizes blame, overly sensitive, self-centered and inconsiderate. Low: Has a sense of belonging, sees significant others as loving and understanding, and has satisfying social relationships. Correlates .81 with Pd5, .79 with Pd-O, .79 with D5 Brooding, .78 with Welsh Anxiety, and .77 with Wiggins Depression. Pd4 is the second most pathological Harris and Lingoes subscale for Pd, after Pd5.
Pd5 (Self-Alienation - Harris & Lingoes (1955). (12 items). High: Depressed, difficulty in concentrating, guilt feelings and remorse over past deeds, and may use alcohol excessively. Low: Able to settle down to a comfortable happy life. Correlates .89 with Pd-O, .87 with Wiggins Depression, .87 with D5 Brooding, .86 with Welsh Anxiety, and .84 with D1 Subjective Depression. This is the most pathological Harris and Lingoes subscale of Pd. "Self-Alienation" is a confusing label. It should be called, "Brooding and apathy."
5 Mf Masculinity-Femininity - Hathaway and McKinley (1956). (56 items). High: (For Males) Passive, aesthetic and artistic interests, intelligent, sensitive to others, tolerant and has good controls. If very high - possible sex role identity conflicts. (For Females) Rejects the stereotypic female role, has masculine interests in work and hobbies, and may be aggressive and dominating. Low: (For Males) Limited intellectual ability, narrow range of interests, practical, aggressive, and has traditional male interests. (For Females) Passive, submissive, constricted and sensitive. Not correlated to any scales of psychopathology. Masculinity-Femininity reliably comes up as an independent factor of MMPI items. Mf is only slightly correlated to the new Gender Role scales on the MMPI-2. This is the weakest basic MMPI-2 scale. Highly educated sensitive males usually score high. The best part of this scale is the subscale Mf1 Narcissism-Hypersensitivity which has been omitted on the MMPI-2.
Mf1 Narcissism-Hypersensitivity - Serkownek (1975). (MMPI 18 items). High: Extremely sensitive, easily hurt, self-centered, narcissistic, lacks self-confidence, concerned over sexual matters, and anger towards family. Low: Self-confident, not overly sensitive, denies hostile feeling towards family, and sees others as sensitive and reasonable. Correlates .77 with Dependency, .75 with Welsh Anxiety, .73 with Wiggins Poor Morale, .71 with Wiggins Depression, and .70 with Pd4 Social Alienation. Mf1 accounts of most the psychopathology in Mf. One of my favorite scales. It can be the only scale elevated in a subtle profile. It assesses the oversensitivity aspect of narcissism. Martin and Finn (Martin, 1993) factor analyzed the MMPI-2 Mf scale, resulting in 7 factors. The norms make it difficult to achieve high scores. Not as reactive to psychopathology as Serkownek’s subscales. Consider T60 as high.
Mf1 Denial of Stereotypic Masculine Interests (11 items); measures a lack of interest in stereotypic masculine activities, i.e. reading mechanics magazines, hunting, etc. Not very clinically useful.
Mf2 Hypersensitivity-Anxiety (13 items); measures worry, over-sensitivity, intimacy problems, and low self-confidence. This scale is the only subscale of Mf that is clinically useful. It is the pathology component of Mf.
Mf3 Stereotypical Feminine Interests (6 items); measures stereotypic feminine activities. Not very clinically useful.
Mf4 Low Cynicism (6 items); measures a lack of suspiciousness about the motives of others, open and trusting.
Mf5 Aesthetic Interests (5 items); measures interest in the theater, journalism, dramatics, poetry, etc.
Mf6 Feminine Gender Identity (5 items); measures the wish to be and act female. May be useful in assessing gender identity issues.
Mf7 Restraint from Loud and Aggressive Interests and Behaviors (6 items); Not fun at parties, but ok at museums, if Mf5 is also elevated.
Return to top of page | Go to Basic Scales 6-10