Examining admission and formation outcomes for Catholic clergy applicants with the MMPI-2-RF: A Prospective Study

I’m thrilled to have a paper with Anthony Isacco and TTU’s newest faculty member Nick Borgogna accepted for publication in Psychological Assessment. We utilized a sample of catholic clergy who underwent a psychological evaluation to predict if those individuals were ultimately admitted by the Catholic Church to the formation training program, and if they completed that training (typically a 5+ year process). We utilized a series of relative risk estimates for each MMPI-2-RF scale at multiple cut scores for each outcome (admission, completion). We also compared mean scores between the groups to summarize overall patterns of group difference. This prospective evaluation offers support for the MMPI-2-RF in aiding these decisions as elevations on numerous scales were associated with increased risk of less desirable outcomes (e.g., non-admission or non-completion). Lower threshold for clinical scales are recommended.

I have created an APA-style pre-print for the paper that may be downloaded here. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors’ permission. The final article will be available, upon publication, via its DOI: 10.1037/pas0001028.

© 2021, American Psychological Association.

Select results are presented and summarized below.

The USCCB guidelines (2015) for psychological evaluations to identify problems with “affective maturity” points our current research towards having a clear definition of what that might look like on the MMPI-2-RF when contrasting group means. Specifically, Emotional/Internalizing Dysfunction (EID) and Dysfunctional Negative Emotions (RC7) require special consideration. Consideration of these scales will likely require adaptations from traditional cut-scores to lowered thresholds. Our study provides support for use of these lower cut-scores in clergy applicants, consistent with existing literature on other public service personnel. While proximal outcomes (admission) are stronger than distant outcomes (formation completion), scales consistently demonstrate increased risk as scores elevated, particularly on the Internalizing pathology scales (e.g., EID, RC7, Self-Doubt [SFD]) and those measuring Somatic/Cognitive Concerns. A notable exception was for RC2, which did not offer the same predictive capacity. Clinicians conducting these evaluations may rely on the MMPI-2-RF for its prospective predictive utility with clergy. In concert with the improved psychometrics of this test/the MMPI-3 over and beyond that of the MMPI-2, a need for transition to modern testing instruments during clergy evaluations is recommended.

Published by Dr. Ingram's Psychology Research Lab

I'm an assistant professor of counseling psychology at Texas Tech University and an active researcher of psychological assessment, veterans, and treatment engagement. I am also in private practice here in Lubbock Texas.

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