Trial 1 Versus Trial 2 of the Test of Memory Malingering: Evaluating Accuracy Without a “Gold Standard”

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Abstract

This study examines the accuracy of the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM), a frequently administered measure for evaluating effort during neurocognitive testing. In the last few years, several authors have suggested that the initial recognition trial of the TOMM (Trial 1) might be a more useful index for detecting feigned or exaggerated impairment than Trial 2, which is the source for inference recommended by the original instruction manual (Tombaugh, 1996). We used latent class modeling (LCM) implemented in a Bayesian framework to evaluate archival Trial 1 and Trial 2 data collected from 1,198 adults who had undergone outpatient forensic evaluations. All subjects were tested with 2 other performance validity tests (the Word Memory Test and the Computerized Assessment of Response Bias), and for 70% of the subjects, data from the California Verbal Learning Test–Second Edition Forced Choice trial were also available. Our results suggest that not even a perfect score on Trial 1 or Trial 2 justifies saying that an evaluee is definitely responding genuinely, although such scores imply a lower-than-base-rate probability of feigning. If one uses a Trial 2 cut-off higher than the manual’s recommendation, Trial 2 does better than Trial 1 at identifying individuals who are almost certainly feigning while maintaining a negligible false positive rate. Using scores from both trials, one can identify a group of definitely feigning and very likely feigning subjects who comprise about 2 thirds of all feigners; only 1% of the members of this group would not be feigning.

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