A caution on the use of the MMPI K-correction in research on psychosomatic medicine.
The MMPI K scale is widely used to screen for invalid responses and to adjust substantive scale scores for defensiveness. In a normal volunteer sample, correlations of MMPI clinical scales and the Cook-Medley Hostility (HO) scale with self-reports and peer ratings on the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) were decreased rather than increased by K-correction. Similarly, in a medical sample, structured interview-based ratings of Potential for Hostility were better predicted by uncorrected HO scores than by K-corrected HO scores. Finally, in a prospective study of mortality among lawyers, uncorrected HO scores were a significant predictor of all-cause mortality; K-corrected scores were not. The data suggest that, under some circumstances, the K scale may measure substantive traits rather than defensiveness, and should be used and interpreted with caution. Its use is probably contraindicated for most research on psychiatrically normal subjects.
McCrae, RR; Costa, PT; Dahlstrom, WG; Barefoot, JC; Siegler, IC; Williams, RB
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