Date of Award

7-22-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David J. LaPorte, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Margaret Reardon, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John A. Mills, Ph.D.

Abstract

Competency to stand trial evaluations are the most common psychiatric evaluations ordered by criminal courts, and there is considerable variation in competency evaluation procedures and judgment processes. The MMPI-2 is utilized by forensic evaluators more frequently than any other test, and the MMPI-2-RF is gaining popularity as well. Although these measures do not assess psycholegal knowledge, they provide relevant information about personality characteristics and psychological functioning that underlie competency abilities. Findings regarding the MMPI-2 as it relates to competency, however, have been sparse and inconsistent, and there are no peer-reviewed data regarding MMPI-2-RF profiles among competent versus incompetent individuals. In the current project, the utility of the MMPI-2 and the MMPI-2-RF in differentiating competent and incompetent to stand trial defendants was investigated, and the two tests were then compared. The results demonstrated that overall, incompetent individuals had higher scale elevations, suggesting this group experienced more general maladjustment. Incompetent individuals scored significantly higher than competent individuals on MMPI-2 scales Infrequency (F), Psychasthenia (7), and Paranoia (6). For the MMPI-2-RF, incompetent individuals displayed relative elevations on scales Infrequent Responses (F-r), Demoralization (RCd), and Dysfunctional Negative Emotions (RC7) as compared to competent individuals. Competency prediction models were created using the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF, and both tests substantially increased accuracy for the prediction of competency status. The overall competency classification rate of just over 70% accuracy is similar to the reliability rates among forensic evaluators in routine practice. Although the two tests had similar rates of significance, the MMPI-2-RF was marginally superior in predicting competency.

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