Incremental Validity of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire in the Preemployment Assessment of Police Officer Candidates

Published date01 July 2022
Date01 July 2022
Subject MatterArticles
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, 2022, Vol. 49, No. 7, July 2022, 1050 –1069.
Article reuse guidelines:
© 2021 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
University of Otago
Corey & Stewart
Kent State University
Guidelines for screening public safety personnel candidates, including law enforcement positions, incorporate the use of
separate psychological tests for assessing normal and abnormal functioning. We evaluated the incremental validity of the
Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)—a measure of normal personality traits—beyond the Minnesota
Multiphasic Personality Inventory–2 Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF), a measure of psychopathology, using a sample of
1,687 candidates for law enforcement positions. They were clinically rated on 10 psychological suitability dimensions. For
a subset of those who were subsequently hired as police officers (n = 397), we also had post-hire outcome data. Using hier-
archical nonlinear regression analyses, we found that the MPQ scales incremented the MMPI-2-RF scales in the prediction
of 17 of 19 variables in this study. Our results indicate that the MPQ, as a measure of normal personality, provides unique
information about psychological suitability and predicts negative post-hire outcomes in police candidates.
Keywords: Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire; Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory; preemployment
screening; law enforcement; police; predictive validity
Assessing the psychological suitability of law enforcement officer candidates contrib-
utes to an important societal goal of ensuring that police officers, at least at the start
of their career, are free of job-relevant psychopathology and personality problems—a
goal incorporated into law in most jurisdictions (Corey & Borum, 2013). In the United
States, the most common psychological test battery used for conducting preemployment
AUTHORS’ NOTE: This research was supported by a grant from the University of Minnesota Press, publisher
of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory–2
Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF). Martin Sellbom and Yossef Ben-Porath are paid consultants to the University
of Minnesota Press. David Corey and Yossef Ben-Porath are authors of the MMPI-2-RF Police Candidate
Interpretive Report (PCIR) and receive royalties on the sale of the report. Yossef Ben-Porath is a coauthor of
the MMPI-2-RF and he receives royalties on sales of this test. Correspondence concerning this article should
be addressed to Martin Sellbom, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054,
New Zealand; e-mail:
1033630CJBXXX10.1177/00938548211033630Criminal Justice and BehaviorSellbom et al. / Incremental Validity of the MPQ
psychological evaluations of law enforcement officer candidates—indeed, the method
required by many jurisdictions and considered the “basic model” of psychological screening
of police candidates (Corey & Ben-Porath, 2018; Serafino, 2010)—involves the use of two
assessment instruments validated for use with both the general population and police candi-
dates: one measuring a range of normal personality traits and the other a broadband measure
of psychopathology and abnormal functioning. The implied rationale for using two such
measures is that they provide complementary information about candidates’ suitability.
Determining the job relevance of findings from preemployment psychological assess-
ments of police officer candidates first requires knowing the jurisdiction’s “criterion stan-
dard” for the position (American Psychological Association, 2018), namely, the “statutory,
regulatory, or administrative standard by which the suitability of a candidate . . . is assessed”
(Corey & Zelig, 2020, p. xix). The most commonly used and detailed criterion standard for
assessing police candidates, either alone or in combination with a broader statutory crite-
rion,1 are the 10 Psychological Screening Dimensions promulgated into law by the California
Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST; 11 California Code of
Regulations § 1955(d)(2)). The 10 POST Psychological Screening (POST-10) Dimensions
and broad descriptions of their content are included in the Online Supplemental Materials
(Table S1). See Spilberg and Corey (2020) for a complete description of the method used
for validating the POST-10 criterion standard.
With respect to specific psychological tests, there exists a substantial body of peer-
reviewed literature documenting the validity of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality
Inventory–2 Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF; Ben-Porath & Tellegen, 2008/2011), a
broadband measure of personality problems and psychopathology, in using preemployment
test results of police candidates to predict post-hire outcomes that are explicitly linked to the
POST-10 dimensions (e.g., Tarescavage, Corey, & Ben-Porath, 2015, 2016; Tarescavage,
Corey, Gupton, & Ben-Porath, 2015; Tarescavage, Fischler, et al., 2015). With regard to
normal personality tests, Sellbom et al. (2021) examined the validity of the Multidimensional
Personality Questionnaire2 (MPQ; Tellegen & Waller, 2008), which is the first study to
explicitly link a test of normal personality functioning to the POST-10 dimensions. Sellbom
et al.’s (2021) findings support the validity of the MPQ to predict psychologists’ ratings of
the POST-10 dimensions as well as job performance outcomes. The authors also explored
the MPQ’s broader construct validity with a large sample of police candidates and found a
conceptually expected pattern of associations with criterion variables, including biographi-
cal data, clinician ratings, and post-hire performance outcome data.
There exist very few peer-reviewed validation studies of commercially available mea-
sures of normal personality functioning demonstrating their utility in preemployment eval-
uations of police officer candidates. Although the California Psychological Inventory (CPI;
Gough & Bradley, 1996) is an exception in this regard (see, e.g., Roberts et al., 2019), three
considerations limit its utility for use in conjunction with the MMPI-2-RF (as well as with
the most recent version of the test, the MMPI-3; Ben-Porath & Tellegen, 2020). First, the
CPI technical manual (Gough & Bradley, 2002) does not list the items comprising each
scale, thereby precluding test users from identifying item overlap and, relatedly, pinpointing
the source of scale intercorrelations, and from evaluating the potential impact of item non-
responsiveness on the reliability of a scale score. Moreover, the substantial content (and
item) overlap and intercorrelations among CPI scales have been cited often as a factor limit-
ing empirical findings in research using this instrument (e.g., Bernstein et al., 1983; Carey

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