Category: Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine - Adult
Disability claimants attempting to feign or exaggerate disability may use different strategies for appearing disabled as a function of the nature of their claimed injury and their understanding of how disability should appear (Bianchini, Greve, & Glynn, 2005). Accordingly, some validity measures may be insensitive to some malingering strategies. Evaluating different approaches to malingered disability associated with different functional domains can increase sensitivity and precision in detecting malingered disability.
Method. 231 participants completed the MMPI-RF under one of four randomly assigned conditions (n = 32 excluded [Cannot Say > 30, or VRIN or TRIN > 80]; final n = 199, 158 women, 41 men).
1. Control (respond normally; final n = 51); 2. Cognitive simulators (final n = 46); 3. Psychological/emotional simulators (final n = 54); 4. Pain/physical simulators (final n = 49). Simulators were asked to respond so as to appear disabled, in a believable way, per their assigned condition. They were reminded at 5, 10, 15, and 20- minute intervals to respond in the role of simulated malingering to prompt continued feigning. They were asked to describe in writing the strategy they used to appear believably impaired at the conclusion of their participation.
Results: Mean validity and clinical scales for the Control group were between T = 40 and 60. The mean clinical scales for the Psychological/Emotional Simulator group were significantly higher than the other Simulator groups for RCd, RC2, RC3, RC4, RC7, and RC8. The Cognitive and Pain/Physical Simulator groups tracked closely on both validity and clinical scales, differing only on RC8, where the Cognitive group scored above the Pain/Physical group; and on RC1, where Cognitive scores were below Pain/Physical. Validity scales Fr, Fpr, Fs, and FBSr were all elevated above mean T = 80 for all simulated malingering groups, except that the Pain/Physical group mean = 75.6 for Fpr. Validity scale Lr was not elevated for any of the Simulator groups.
Conclusions: Volunteers are responsive to disability exaggeration instructions, and their MMPI-RF responses and resulting profiles differ in ways generally consistent with the targeted domain. Although simulator studies are inadequate for establishing recommended cutoff scores for clinical settings, this study provides potentially useful information about the pattern of validity and clinical scale elevations that would be predicted for different forms of disability exaggeration.