RESPONSE 1 (Kraig): Choosing the best test to evaluate an individual’s competency to stand trial would be difficult from the tests listed. First, the psychologist would have to determine which test or tests would best evaluate the individual’s personality and ability to stand trial. To capture both types of tests and obtain a better personality assessment, I would choose to use both the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory 2nded (MMPI-11). The TAT has pictures that are shown to the individual that are open to interpretation (Serfass & Sherman, 2013). The breakdown of the test has twenty black pictures and twenty white pictures where the individual will make up stories that corresponds with the pictures shown (Serfass & Sherman, 2013). Utilizing the TAT will allow the psychologist to evaluate if there are underlying themes with the individuals personality that would impede him or her from standing trial. The TAT test, just like other projective tests, is highly criticized because of the subjectivity in the scoring procedures (Serfass & Sherman, 2013). The stories that the individual would make up would paint a picture to the psychologist on what scales he would fall under. Depending on what scales the individual would fall in would determine if he would be competent to stand trial.
The MMPI-2 is considered one of the most widely researched and used clinical personality inventory within contemporary assessments (Kumar, 2016). The MMPI-2 is an objective personality test that gains the clients perspective on their personality characteristics by the use of a self-reporting questionnaire (Kumar, 2016). The type of questionnaire used in the MMPI-2 is a basic true and false test. Kumar (2016) explains the test comprises of 567 items on the test. What is great about this test is it has different scales which help tell if the person is telling the truth, but has a downfall of the psychologist having to determine if the client has cooperated with them (Kumar, 2016). Whether or not a client is cooperating is important to know because it determines the validity of the results. The MMPI-2 would be very helpful in determining if the individual is fit to stand trial by evaluating if he or she is telling the truth. For an example, a person who brutally murdered their family is on trial, but knows he will be found guilty and put to death. He starts acting like he is psychologically distraught in order to get an easy sentence for his crimes. The test would be able to tell that the individual is lying.
There is a great difference between projective and objective tests. First, projective testing is when the test taker puts his or her thoughts into what he or she sees on a card (Krug, 2013). The good part about the projective testing is the client may tell the psychologist something unconsciously through story telling about their true inner-self that he or she may not have disclosed any other way (Krug, 2013). The negativity of the projective testing is the subjectivity of the scoring procedures (Serfass & Sherman, 2013). Objective tests are a yes or no test or a true or false type test (Kumar, 2016). The client has one of two choices to make and it is easily scored, but may take some time. The negative part of objective testing is the psychologist has to determine whether or not the client cooperated and did not just throw questions down on paper to be finished with the test (Kumar, 2016). If the client just answers what ever answers even if they are false, the test results are not valid. This is why I decided to choose to use both the MMPI-2 and the TAT test to encompass a wider spectrum in order to capture the best picture of the individual’s personality to determine his or her suitability to stand trial.
Kumar, U. (2016). The wiley handbook of personality assessment. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu.
Krug, S. E. (2013). Objective personality testing. In K. F. Geisinger, B. A. Bracken, J. F. Carlson, J. C. Hansen, N. R. Kuncel, S. P. Reise & M. C. Rodriguez (Eds.), APA handbook of testing and assessment in psychology, vol. 1: Test theory and testing and assessment in industrial and organizational psychology; APA handbook of testing and assessment in psychology, vol. 1: Test theory and testing and assessment in industrial and organizational psychology. (pp. 315-328, Chapter xxix, 711 Pages). Washington: American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
Serfass, D., & Sherman, R. (2013). Personality and perceptions of situations from the Thematic Apperception Test. Journal of Research in Personality, 47(6), 708–718.
RESPONSE 2 (Denise): I found this week’s topic was very interesting. Determining if a person is competent enough to stand involve many legal aspects, not just a simple test. There are many things to take into consideration including the individual’s background and upbringing. This may shed a little more light on what and why’s of the actual situation. Often time when faced with such, many people immediately deem it necessary to undergo a psychological assessment. This is not necessary in all cases.
Personality is the field within psychology that studies the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, goals, and interests of normal individuals. It consequently covers a very wide range of important psychological characteristics. Personality is the unique way individuals think, feel, and act. If I were a forensic psychologist conducting an evaluation of an individual competency to stand trial, I generally would not use projective testing at all however if I had to choose, I would be torn between the Minnesota Multiple Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Thematic Apperception Test. Both test is intended to evaluate a person’s personality and/traits.
I would use the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The reason I would uses this test is because it is considered effective in stimulating information about a person’s view of the world and his or her attitudes towards themselves as well as others. The TAT is most often used in situations where a person is evaluated for fields requiring high levels of psychological stress. These areas include but are not limited to: law, education, clergy, and the military. It evaluates motivations and overall attitudes of the examinee. During such test the subject reveals their expectations of relationships, parents, law-enforcement, subordinates and their peers. For example; if a person, in the case of a mass murderer, this test would be suitable to identify why they committed the crime what could have been a motive. While taking the test, the examiner has the opportunity to assess the participant’s tone, posture, pauses, and other signs of their emotions.
Some advantages of TAT and other projective test are that: they are every useful in assisting psychologist assess unconscious parts of one’s personality. Personality test are not translucent therefore participants do not know how their answers or response will be interpreted. Some disadvantages may be that self-reporting accounts may appear transparent to the participant, so they may be able to figure out what the psychologist really want to know. For example: If given/shown a picture of a woman looking into a room door: showing the attitude of a mother’s role of observing her children or judging behavior. I could view it as maybe she is responding to the calling of her name from one of her children. Another disadvantage of any projective testing is that it lacks reliability as well as validity.
RESPONSE 3 (Robert): This week we analyze and stipulate on which personality tests would be sufficient to evaluate an individual’s competency to stand trail. I have always been skeptical with this concept considering I feel a person’s actions should weigh more than there state of mind when they stand trail. Consider the case of the Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes. Though he was convicted and sentenced to over 12 life sentences, the jury spared him because he was mentally ill. In my mind this was a gross interpretation of justice. What does it matter how mentally ill he is, as long as someone is capable of doing what he did then I think everyone knows my opinion on the matter. I digress, apologies.
I spent a long time considering protective tests and their benefit for measuring competency for trial. I feel protective tests would be too easy to manipulate if a person wanted to be considered not fit to stand trial. In my opinion objective personality inventories and the proper grading scales would present the best case on whether or not someone is capable of standing trail.
One of the most widely used personality inventories is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personilty Inventory (MMPI). This inventory would be strong in court because of the vast amount of research literature published and the published research references. The MMPI covers a plethora of areas utilizing up to 567 affirmative statements that are answered with a true or false response. MMPI has 13 standard scales, three of which are meant to measure validity, and ten specifically for personality. Sub scales are designed to match tendencies for depression, paranoia, masculinity vs. femininity, and other valuable factors (Kumar, 2016). Some concerns professionals have expressed with the MMPI is the over assumption of accurate diagnosis and assumptions that patterns are relevant for identification to certain sub sets. For example, similar answers for those diagnosed with depression are used to identify future individuals of depression. This assumes the previous patterns are connected to depression, and also assumes the original diagnosis of depression is correct.
After a throughout measurement with the MMPI I would move on to implementing the 16 personality factors inventory. This model evaluates the presence of these 16 factors. Factors such as anxiety neuroticism, self-control, and extraversion are all global factors that would be helpful in our case. For the sake of showing a judge and jury that due diligence has been implemented I may include a projective measurement. This would also show the powers that be an unbiased projection of the persons personality and capabilities. The Rorschach inkblot test is a very popular examination that makes references from the persons imagination from their interpretations of inkblots. The idea is that these ambiguous pictures tap into the subconscious of individuals and offer the psychologist hints and insights into their true nature. I hope you all enjoyed my post this week and good luck on this weeks analysis. Thanks!
Kumar, U. (2016). The Wiley handbook of personality assessment. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.eproxy2-apus.edu