February 23, 2009

Latest on controversial "Fake Bad Scale"

I wanted to alert my psychologist readers to the latest in the controversy over the "Fake Bad Scale" of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a topic I have blogged about previously (HERE). If you are planning to use this Scale, you should be aware of this article and the others on both sides of the controversy.

The Fake Bad Scale (FBS) was developed to identify malingering of emotional distress among claimants in personal injury cases. It was recently added to MMPI-2 scoring materials, resulting in its widespread dissemination to clinicians who conduct psychological evaluations.

The latest article, in the interesting new journal Psychological Injury & Law, summarizes concerns about the Scale's reliability, validity, and potential bias against women, trauma victims, and people with disabilities.

The article concludes that the scale is not sufficiently reliable or valid to be used in court:
"Based on a review and a careful analysis of a large amount of published FBS research, the FBS does not appear to be a sufficiently reliable or valid test for measuring 'faking bad,' nor should it be used to impute the motivation to malinger in those reaching its variable and imprecise cutting scores. We agree with the conclusions of the three judges in Florida that the FBS does not meet the Frye standards of being scientifically sound and generally accepted in the field, and that expert testimony based on the scale should be excluded from consideration in court. The samples used to develop the FBS are not broadly representative of the populations evaluated by the MMPI-2, nor are its criteria used to define malingering objective and replicable. There is insufficient evidence of its psychometric reliability or validity, and there is no consensus about appropriate cut-off scores or use of norms."
The article is "Potential for Bias in MMPI-2 Assessments Using the Fake Bad Scale (FBS)." The Abstract and a "free preview" are online HERE; the full article requires a subscription but can be requested directly from the first author, James Butcher. Butcher and co-authors Carlton Gass, Edward Cumella, Zina Kally and Carolyn Williams present just one side of the heated controversy; a rebuttal is scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal, followed by other pro and con articles.

Related blog resources:

New MMPI scale invalid as forensic lie detector, courts rule: Injured plaintiffs falsely branded malingerers? (March 5, 2008) – contains links and citations to other sources

"Fake Bad Scale": Lawyers advocate exposing in court (May 20, 2008)

A list of FBS references and statement from the test's publisher is HERE

Hat tip: Ken Pope

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