Identification Of A Pre-employment Psychological Evaluation Marker For Predicting Police Candidates Who Receive Racial And Excessive Force Complaints

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Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment


Most police officer candidates undergo pre-employment psychological evaluations prior to service. The Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) is a popular tool used by psychologists in these evaluations. The current study attempted to identify embedded markers on the MMPI-2 that evaluators could use to help predict officers who later received a racial and/or excessive force complaint. We examined an archival dataset of 12,616 pre-hire candidate MMPI-2 profiles and post-hire officer supervisor evaluations. In total, only 3.7% (n = 481) of candidates received an excessive force complaint and only 1.2% (n = 152) received a racial complaint. Our sample was split (n’s = 6,308) into an initial validation sample, and an independent confirmation sample. By observing base rates of complaints by T-scores, we identified imbedded thresholds on the MMPI-2 content-based validity scales that significantly predicted which officers received excessive force and race-based complaints. Candidates with F T-scores ≤ 40 or K T-scores ≥ 55 were considered to be most at-risk. In the validation sample, logistic regressions suggested that scores beyond one of these thresholds significantly increased the odds of being in the group of candidates that eventually received an excessive force and/or racial complaint. These thresholds demonstrated better predictive validity than the F-K index. Predictive validity was weaker, but still evident in the independent confirmation sample, and still better than comparison thresholds. However, specificity was poor, likely attributable to the low base rate of complaints. We discuss implications for use of validity scale thresholds in pre-employment evaluations.

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