Identifying Feigning in Trauma-Exposed African Immigrants

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Abstract

As the populations of Western countries become more diverse, the risk of inaccurately generalizing knowledge from majority ethnic groups to minority groups is increasing. However, few of the measures used in forensic assessment are based on normative samples that represent the considerable diversity present in forensic settings. This study examined 4 commonly used measures of feigning: the Dot Counting Test (DCT; Boone, Lu, & Herzberg, 2002); the Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms (M-FAST; Miller, 2001); the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM; Tombaugh, 1996); and a validity scale (atypical responding; ATR) on the Trauma Symptom Inventory-2 (Briere, 2011). The study compared performance on these measures of feigning among 3 groups of African immigrants: honest participants with and without posttraumatic stress disorder, and participants asked to feign distress-related symptoms. The data were used to assess the classification accuracy of each measure and the effect of demographic and cultural variables. Three of the 4 measures (M-FAST, TOMM, and ATR) significantly differentiated between participants asked to respond honestly and those asked to feign, although no measure produced higher than moderate classification accuracy. The M-FAST and DCT produced high false positive rates in the honest groups, ranging from 33% to 63%. Surprisingly, demographic and cultural variables were not significantly associated with test scores. The results emphasize the need for future related research.

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