Detecting Malingering and Defensiveness in the Translated Versions of the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF: A Systematic Review

Lillian Lucy Bopp, Fordham University


The MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF have been translated into dozens of different languages, which, accompanied by the ease of the self-report design that minimizes the need to employ translators, make them attractive for use in forensic evaluations worldwide. Extensive research has established the validity of these instruments in determining the authenticity of a test-takers self-report and detecting deliberate response distortion. Despite this, the empirical literature has been predominantly confined to English-speaking samples and no systematic review to date has examined the validity of these instruments with linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse samples. This dearth of research is highly problematic as it is unwise and unethical to assume that the validity of an instrument will remain intact once translated and applied to someone from a very different culture than the instrument’s initial development sample. As such, it is imperative that tools designed to assess the veracity of a test-takers presentation, such as the MMPI, are rigorously tested to ensure that linguistic and cultural equivalence is demonstrated with non-English-speaking samples to avoid the risk of erroneous classifications. Thus, the present study sought to address the substantial gap in the literature by examining all of the available data regarding the efficacy of the translated versions of the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF in detecting malingering and defensiveness in diverse samples. A four-phase search strategy was conducted in order to identify studies employing a translated version of the MMPI-2 or MMPI-2 RF, with a total of 26 empirical studies, seven languages and nine translated versions represented in this systematic review. Studies were coded for descriptive characteristics, study design, and statistics. Effect sizes were calculated for each study on each validity scale and cut-scores, utility estimates (i.e., sensitivity and specificity), and AUC statistics were extracted when available. The utility of the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF was analyzed descriptively by translated version and overall findings were contrasted with similar studies utilizing the English-language version of the instruments. Finally, the implications of this research literature were discussed as well as suggestions for future research.

Subject Area

Psychology|Language|Neurosciences|Personality psychology|Mental health

Recommended Citation

Bopp, Lillian Lucy, "Detecting Malingering and Defensiveness in the Translated Versions of the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF: A Systematic Review" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28090723.