Get ready to be tested! Do you have the right personality for full custody of your children?
Your kids aren’t the only ones taking tests. If you’re fighting for primary custody, you may be required to take one or more psychological tests to determine if you have the appropriate personality for the job. Over the next few days, we’ll be talking about some of the most popular court-ordered tests that parents are required to take, under the supervision of a psychologist, as part of the custody case.
The most popular test is known as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, known as the MMPI-2 for short. Clinical psychologists administer the MMPI-2 to parents to test where they fall in ten different behavioral categories. These ten different categories — known as scales — are then used to determine if the parents are functioning in a healthy way or whether they are potentially mentally ill or psychotic.
The ten scales are:
- Hypochondriasis — assesses neurotic concern over body functions.
- Depression — assesses sadness ranging from general dissatisfaction to actual depression.
- Hysteria — assesses whether the parent overreacts to stressful situations.
- Psychopathic Deviate — assesses social deviation, refusal to accept authority, and lack of morality.
- Masculinity/Femininity — Originally designed to identify homosexual tendencies.
- Paranoia — assesses suspicious behavior, excess sensitivity and rigidity.
- Psychasthenia — Assesses symptoms similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Schizophrenia — Identifies schizophrenic personalities, including those with peculiar perceptions, poor family relationships, problems with self-worth and self-identity.
- Hypomania — Assesses elevated mood, accelerated speech, irritability.
- Social introversion — Assesses tendency to withdraw from social contacts and responsibilities.
If you are ordered by the judge to take the MMPI-2, don’t try to trick the test. The MMPI-2 is very sophisticated, and it measures your behavior during the test. For example, the psychologist who grades your test will be looking at something called the “F Scale” which detects any attempt you make to “fake good” or “fake bad.” If you score high on the F Scale, it means you tried to appear better or worse than you really are, by attempting to trick the test. If you score high on the “L Scale,” the psychologist reading the results of your test will know that you tried to lie on the test in order to cast yourself in a more favorable light.
The best policy is to take the test earnestly and honestly, without try to outsmart it. Your lawyer should ask the psychologist administering the test how the questions on the MMPI-2 were chosen, and what other tests besides the MMPI-2 will be given. The judge should never make his custody decision on the basis of one psychological test.