An MMPI Scale for Seminary Candidates

William A Barry, Fordham University


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The field of personality testing is relatively young and its development has been attended by more growing pains than that of its older brother, aptitude testing. Each of the approaches to personality tests, as Anastasi (1954) has pointed out, has been beset by serious difficulties on both theoretical and statistical grounds. It has, however, become increasingly evident that an individual’s personality, i.e. his emotional adjustment, social relations, motivation, interests, and attitudes, may be just as important as his aptitude for his success or failure in a particular job or profession. Hence, it has become standard practice in many screening batteries to include some measure of personality. Research to improve the precision of such measures has grown apace with their need. The present study attempts to contribute toward a more precise personality measure for one particular screening job, namely, the screening of candidates for the priesthood. If the field of personality testing in general is still in its childhood, then the use of personality tests for religious groups may be said to be in its infancy. It had, of course, been recognized for a long time that certain physical, mental, and moral endowments were necessary for the religious life. Since the days of St. Thomas Aquinas it has been customary to think of a religious vocation as the meeting of two wills, the will of the candidate who has the desire and feels that he has the qualifications to become a priest or religious and the will of a legitimate superior who must pass judgment on the applicant’s qualifications. The superior who accepts the candidate has the obligation to scrutinize the character, health, and ability of the candidate before he makes his decision. The scrutiny of the health of the applicant must include, as Bier (1948) says, some consideration of his mental health. Until recent years this aspect of the applicant’s health was judged wholly on the impression the applicant made on the superior and on the teachers and others who knew him. This arrangement, of course, was necessarily the way things were done in the absence of scientific instruments to measure these important aspects of the applicant’s qualifications. In the last few years, however, superiors have begun to make use of the scientific measuring instrument's developed by psychologists as an aid in determining the candidate’s fitness from the point of view of mental health. The aim of the next two sections of the present chapter will be to show how research on the personality patterns of religious groups has developed and how the present study fits into the main stream of research on personality inventories in this field.

Subject Area

Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Barry, William A, "An MMPI Scale for Seminary Candidates" (1960). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28673370.