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Acquiescence and Desirability as Response Determinants on the MMPI MMPI

Jackson, Douglas N.; Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
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Subject/Key Words:
National Institute of Mental Health, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Personality Measures, Personality Traits, Prisoners, Response Style (Tests), Social Desirability


In order to evaluate on the MMPI the respective contributions of consistent responses to item content on the one hand and of the stylistic determinants of acquiescence and desirability on the other, five new MMPI scales were developed which varied randomly with respect to content but systematically in level of judged item desirability. These scales thus represented the tendencies to endorse very desirable, somewhat desirable, neutral, somewhat undesirable, and very undesirable items, respectively. Scores for these five desirability measures and for separate true and false keys of MMPI clinical and validity scales, obtained from a sample of 201 prison inmates, were intercorrelated, factor analyzed, and rotated analytically to orthogonal simple structure. Implications drawn from the results included suggestions for further evaluation and revision of MMPI scoring methods, based upon homogeneous keying and a consideration of response set effects. The importance of utilizing the multidimensionality of desirability judgments in accounting for item similarities and for response variance was also suggested.

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