Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Toward Normative MMPI-2 Profiles for Evangelical Missionaries in Candidate and Clinical Settings: Examining Differences by Setting, Generation, and Marital Status

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Toward Normative MMPI-2 Profiles for Evangelical Missionaries in Candidate and Clinical Settings: Examining Differences by Setting, Generation, and Marital Status

Article excerpt

In order to replicate and expand the work of Dimos (2013), we compiled the largest samples to date of MMPI-2 standard scale profiles among evangelical Christian missionary candidates (n = 1227; 530 men and 696 women) and outpatients (n = 1431; 643 men and 788 women). Results indicated our candidate scale scores were remarkably similar to those reported by Dimos and together these datasets appear to converge on a reliable normative profile for this population. We also present a potential outpatient normative profile for our clinical sample. In distinguishing our samples from the MMPI-2 normative sample, we found that validity scale differences were most salient for the missionary candidates and several clinical scales provided the clearest contrasts for missionary outpatients. Potential profile shifts among successive generations were evident in the form of somewhat less defensiveness and, specific to outpatients, slightly more sensitivity and feelings of grievance. Finally, while the profiles of married and single candidates were essentially similar, among the clinical sample married missionaries appeared slightly more guarded and less distressed than their single counterparts.

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Missionary service is often a difficult vocation that requires an immense amount of dedication and perseverance. Apart from the psychosocial strains of living cross-culturally, a great deal of financial investment is made to send missionaries to another part of the world and provide for them there. These factors, combined with the common occurrence of missionary attrition, mean that missionary selection and restoration are crucial and risky processes. Despite the increasing attention given to the selection and restoration processes, greater precision in psychological assessment remains desirable in order to avoid such losses. One area where more precision would be useful in Christian missionary assessment is in the development of a specific normative profile of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory--Second Edition (MMPI-2; Butcher, Graham, Ben-Porath, Tellegan, & Dahlstrom, 2001) for this group. The MMPI-2 has been comprehensively studied and shown to provide objective data in regards to both personality and psychopathy (Bridges & Baum, 2013). Given that very limited research has been done on missionary candidates and vocational missionaries in professional counseling, mental health professionals involved with candidate screening and psychological services (i.e., member care) to missionaries will benefit from population-specific information that can aid in the interpretation of MMPI-2 findings. In this study we will report findings from the largest missionary MMPI-2 database studied to date and provide a normative profile for both missionary candidates and missionaries who have been referred for clinical intervention.

A Brief Review of the Missionary MMPI and MMPI-2 Literature

Schubert and Gantner (1996) observed that Christian missions lack the tools needed to screen candidates effectively and inexpensively. These researchers suggested that the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI; Hathaway & McKinley, 1983) could possibly resolve this problem, but observed a serious problem: the field of missionary assessment lacked standardization and several mission agencies expressed a desire to improve their selection process. With the lack of consistency in assessment instruments, there have been calls for a standardization of tests, but no consensus about which tests should be used. Schubert and Gantner proposed the MMPI as a test for candidacy and then compared it against the Mission Assessment Scale (MAS) (Schubert & Gantner, 1996). In order to do this, they sought to establish the value of the MMPI in regards to its predictive utility for missionary candidates. Their results indicated that while the MMPI based predictions were often accurate, the MMPI could not be said to be definitive as a selection device. …

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