Interpretation of a full-information item-level factor analysis of the MMPI-2: Normative sampling and nonpathognomonic descriptors

Bernard T. Leonelli*, Chih Hung Chang, R. Darrell Bock, Stephen G. Schilling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


An exploratory item-level full-information factor analysis was performed on the normative sample for the MMPI-2 (Butcher, Dahlstrom, Graham, Tellegen, and Kaemmer, 1989). This method of factor analysis, developed by Schilling and Bock (Bock and Schilling, 1997) and based on item response theory, works directly with the response patterns and avoids the artifacts associated with phi coefficients and tetrachoric coefficients. Promax rotation of the factor solution organizes the clinical scale items into 10 factors that we labeled Distrust, Self-Doubt, Fitness, Serenity, Rebelliousness, Instrumentality, Irritability, Artistry, Sociability, and Self-Reliance. A comparison was made to the results of Johnson, Butcher, Null, and Johnson (1984), who performed a principal-component analysis on an item set of 550 items from the previous version of the MMPI (Hathaway and McKinley, 1943). Along with version changes and sampling differences, the essential differences between Johnson et al.'s results and ours may be attributed to differences between the Schilling and Bock method, which uses all information in the item responses, and the principal-component analysis, which uses the partial information contained in pairwise correlation coefficients. This study included 518 of the complete 567 items of the MMPI-2, versus Johnson et al.'s retention of 309 of the initially included 550 items of the previous MMPI. The full-information analysis retained all 518 initially included items and more evenly distributed the items over the 10 resulting factors, all sharply defined by their highest loading items and easy to interpret. Sampling effects and factor label considerations are discussed, along with recommendations for research that would validate the clinical utility of the implied scales for describing normal personality profiles. The full-information procedure provides for Bayes estimation of scores on these scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-422
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Personality Assessment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Interpretation of a full-information item-level factor analysis of the MMPI-2: Normative sampling and nonpathognomonic descriptors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this