The development of an MMPI based scale to measure personal responsibility



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Texas Tech University


The idea that humans are responsible for themselves is founded in existential philosophy and has been considered basic to mental health by writers of various persuasions.

The purpose of the study was to develop and provisionally validate a self-report instrument to measure this concept. A definition of personal responsibility was derived which synthesized the ideas of Glassar, Rotter, and Ganthner, and included the elements of personal accountability, capability, and unselfishness.

To operationalize this construct, 125 items were selected from the item pool of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) which seemed to relate to the derived definition of personal responsibility and ware sorted by 20 judges from various disciplines resulting in an initial personal responsibility (PRE) scale of 58 items at 80% interjudge agreement. The PRE scale was intended as a special MMPI scale rather than for independent use.

To assess its psychometric qualities, 132 Anglo-American males between the ages of 18 and 55 hospitalized at two state hospitals for treatment of alcoholism ware administered the MMPI with the imbedded PRE scale and were also given the I-E Scale and Purpose in Life Test. Subjects ware concurrently rated by hospital staff using the MACC Behavioral Adjustment Scale - Revised. Two supplemental subject groups consisted of 38 outpatient alcoholic and 30 normal Anglo males who ware given identical tasting but not behaviorally rated.

While good reliabilities for the PRE scale were obtained, the behavioral ratings were unrelated to the PRE scale or the other standardized measures. However, moderate to high correlations were obtained between the PRE scale and several standardized MMPI scales and the I-E Scale and Purpose in Life Test, and there were significant differences on PRE scale scores between hospitalized alcoholics and the two supplemental subject groups.

The findings provided only tentative support for the PRE scale. In addition, high correlations with several standardized empirically derived MMPI scales raised the issue of scale redundancy which could have been fatal to further PRE scale development had the scale not been based on item content. Substantially more research will be needed with other subject groups before the PRE scale can be adequately evaluated.