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Psychol Assess. 2010 Dec;22(4):729-36. doi: 10.1037/a0020973.

Detecting symptom exaggeration in combat veterans using the MMPI-2 symptom validity scales: a mixed group validation.

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  • 1Anxiety Disorders Center, The Institute of Living, CT 06106, USA.


Although validity scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2; J. N. Butcher, W. G. Dahlstrom, J. R. Graham, A. Tellegen, & B. Kaemmer, 1989) have proven useful in the detection of symptom exaggeration in criterion-group validation (CGV) studies, usually comparing instructed feigners with known patient groups, the application of these scales has been problematic when assessing combat veterans undergoing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) examinations. Mixed group validation (MGV) was employed to determine the efficacy of MMPI-2 exaggeration scales in compensation-seeking (CS) and noncompensation-seeking (NCS) veterans. Unlike CGV, MGV allows for a mix of exaggerating and nonexaggerating individuals in each group, does not require that the exaggeration versus nonexaggerating status of any individual be known, and can be adjusted for different base-rate estimates. MMPI-2 responses of 377 male veterans were examined according to CS versus NCS status. MGV was calculated using 4 sets of base-rate estimates drawn from the literature. The validity scales generally performed well (adequate sensitivity, specificity, and efficiency) under most base-rate estimations, and most produced cutoff scores that showed adequate detection of symptom exaggeration, regardless of base-rate assumptions. These results support the use of MMPI-2 validity scales for PTSD evaluations in veteran populations, even under varying base rates of symptom exaggeration.

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