Fake Bad Scale
Psychology’s most commonly used personality test, the MMPI, leaped into the national spotlight today in a compelling David and Goliath embroilment pitting corporate interests such as Halliburton against the proverbial little guy.
At the center of this debate is the “Fake Bad Scale” that was incorporated into the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory last year for specific use in personal injury litigation.
Although many forensic neuropsychologists use the scale, critics suggest it labels too many people especially women as liars. Research finding shows an unacceptably large false positive rate which also includes a large scale study done by MMPI expert James Butcher, who found that the scale grouped high percentages of actual psychiatric inpatients as fakers.
The controversial debate came to a head in two Florida courtrooms, where judges banned the use of the scale after a series of special hearings on its scientific substance. In a particular case being brought against a petroleum company, a judge decided that there was “no hard medical scientific evidence to support the use of this scale to predict the truthfulness of it’s participants.” Other cases in which the scale has been argued include one against Halliburton brought by a former truck driver located in Iraq.
One possible reason for this is that the scale admits many items that people with real pain or trauma induced injuries might back, such as “My sleep is fitful and interrupted” and “I have nightmares several nights a week.” Yet hearing the phrase “Fake Bad” will most likely trigger a prejudicial impact on some jurors even if they hear it from opposing experts who say a plaintiff is truly not faking.
The scale was not formally incorporated into the MMPI until, after a group of renowned experts convened by the University of Minnesota Press reported it was by a “preponderance of the present literature.” Critics stand by the fact that the review process was prejudice: At least 10 of the 19 studies that were accepted were done by Lees Haley or other insurance defense expert psychologists, while 21 other studies done – including Butcher’s – were supposedly excluded from being considered.
The American Psychological Association’s committee on disabilities challenged the publisher, stating that the scale had been added to the MMPI to early.
Lees Haley, meanwhile, upholds the scale as empirically correct and says criticism is being arranged by plaintiff’s attorneys such as Dorothy Clay Sims, who has written guides on how to dispute the Fake Bad scale in a court of law.
Even if the scale had been valid before today, it is almost certain that questions will arise about the extent to which it will remain valid once trial attorneys start studying for it by using today’s publication of all 43 items encompassed with the scoring key.
The lesson for forensic practitioners: Be aware of critical literature and controversy surrounding any test that you use in a forensic context, and be prepared to defend your use of the test in court.
At Sam Harding Law Firm, we understand the problems suffered by people who have sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries. We know that insurance companies often try to take advantage of unrepresented clients. We work hard for our clients to get them the money they deserve without their having to go to court. We work to get medical bills, lost income and money for pain and suffering. However, should your case require litigation, we are prepared to take your case to court. We are an ABOTA and AV rated Martindale Hubbel law firm. We understand how insurance companies try to use the Fake Bad Scale to undermine a legitimate person’s claim of brain injury.