Racial Bias in Personality Assessment: Using the MMPI-2 to Predict Psychiatric Diagnoses of African American and Caucasian Chemical Dependency Inpatients

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An assessment of predictive bias was conducted on numerous scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2; J. N. Butcher, W. G. Dahlstrom, J. R. Graham, A. Tellegen, & B. Kaemmer, 1989), including the Restructured Clinical (RC) scales, in the prediction of clinical diagnostic status for African American and Caucasian male veterans seeking substance abuse treatment. Patients completed a battery of self-report instruments and were administered structured diagnostic interviews. African American patients obtained higher scores across most MMPI-2 scales compared with Caucasians with clinically meaningful elevations (T scores > 5 points) on 3 scales. The RC scales demonstrated strong correlations with diagnoses, however, like other MMPI-2 scales examined in this study, they displayed a general trend of predictive bias. Step-down hierarchical regression procedures (G. J. Lautenschlager & J. L. Mendoza, 1986) indicated the presence of predictive bias for a majority of the scales examined; however, most of these effects were small to modest (accounting for 3%-5% of variance). The pattern of slope and intercept biases across types of MMPI-2 scales differs from prior research and indicates the importance of evaluating bias in various populations and settings.

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