Corresponding Author Information: Tess M.S. Neal

Session Abstract: This symposium shares with the SPA community a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of PersonalityAssessment, focusing on building a cohesive evidence base for legal admissibility considerations regarding commonly-used psychological assessment instruments. A credibility revolution is occurring in various fields, including in both psychology and in law, with a sharpened focus on the tenability of claims made by experts. Recent projects have raised some questions and concerns about the legal admissibility of various psychological assessment methods (e.g., DeMatteo et al., 2020; Edens & Boccaccini, 2017; Neal et al., 2019). The current special issue represents a systematic effort for the field to answer some of these questions, respond to some of the concerns, and charter a path forward. As such, a set of articles offering a high-level review of some of the mostcommon psychological assessment measures practitioners use in legal settings will be published, with attention to multiple audiences for each article: psychological scientists, mental health practitioners, attorneys and judges, and the public. This symposium will cover the special issue as a whole, with an introductory presentation outlining the entire special issue’s general findings and themes, followed by a panel discussion, and interactive audience conversation.

Chair Information: Tess M.S. Neal | Arizona State University

Discussant Information: Barry Rosenfeld | Fordham University

Presentation 1 Title:Introduction to, Rationale for, and Summary of the Special Issue on Assessments in Legal Contexts

Presentation 1 Abstract:  A forthcoming, 11-paper special issue of the Journal of Personality Assessment focuses on scientific and legal issues for individual psychological assessment instruments, summarizing their psychometric science to date and highlighting research that is most urgently needed, as well as laying out the strengths and weaknesses of the tools for use in legal settings with attention to the admissibility issues that mental health practitioners and legal practitioners should be aware.

Hundreds of thousands of psychological assessments are used in court every year to aid judges in making legal decisions that profoundly affect people’s lives, and a large number of mental health professionals offer forensic services. However, recent work has shed light on the limitations of assessment tools in field settings, including legal contexts (see e.g., Edens & Boccaccini, 2017). Regarding other issues, serious questions have arisen about the use of the popular Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised in some forensic contexts (see e.g., DeMatteo et al., 2020). And the Rorschach Inkblot Test remains a subject of debate (e.g., Mihura et al., 2013 vs. Wood et al., 2015; but see Board of Trustees of the Society for Personality Assessment, 2005), which continues to be widely used in forensic settings (Neal et al., 2019).

Neal and colleagues (2019) investigated 364 assessment tools used in legal cases, finding that many may not meet legal admissibility criteria. The authors called for research, and also encouraged mental health practitioners to be more critical about the measures they use in forensic cases, and advocated attorneys to better scrutinize and challenge psychological assessment evidence. The current special issue will meet some of these needs.

Some papers in this special issue concern instruments that are heavily used but controversial (i.e., the Rorschach Inkblot Test), those that are newer but likely to be heavily used in forensic settings (i.e., Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-3), those that are perhaps appropriate for some psycholegal questions but inappropriate for others (e.g., the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventories), and others (i.e., the Personality Assessment Inventory – including the adolescent version, Structured Inventory of Reported Symptoms-2, Historical Clinical Risk-20 Version 3, Trauma Symptom Inventory, Symptom Validity testing, MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool – Criminal Adjudication, Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial-Revised, and the Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation).

We were successful in our aim to stimulate some adversarial collaborations, especially with regard to assessment instruments for which there has been a healthy debate in the literature and for which a dedicated collaborative effort to hammer out points of agreement and disagreement would be useful for psychology and for the law. For example, a successful adversarial collaboration model was used for the Rorschach, PCL-R, and MCMI papers.

We believe these papers will be important: they will advance psychological science by motivating the research that most needs to be done, and they will advance justice by educating mental health practitioners and lawyers about the strengths and weaknesses of commonly-used tools in legal settings. Finally, by publishing open-access, we hope this project will be broadly useful.


Tess M.S. Neal | Arizona State University

Corine de Ruiter | Maastricht University, Netherlands

Martin Sellbom | University of Otago, New Zealand

Presentation 2 Title:Panel Discussion & Interactive Discussion with Audience

Presentation 2 Abstract: A panel involving authors who contributed to this special issue will take turns briefly discussing their projects and highlighting the major take-away, and the panel will then discuss implications and future directions for the practice and science of psychology as well as for law. The session will then include an incisive discussant offering critical commentary about the value of this overarching project for mental health law and for psychology. Finally, we will end with an interactive audience discussion.

Authors involved in the special issue will serve on this panel (up to one author per paper - currently we have 6 papers represented with the confirmed panelists; it is possible that others could also join in if attending SPA). The issue will be finished and published in early 2022. Reproduced below are titles, authors, and excerpts from some abstracts, which will be featured (among others) during the symposium. Note that there are a few more papers in final stages of revision that are not listed here yet, but would be included in the symposium if accepted.

Legal Admissibility of the Rorschach and R-PAS: A Review of Research, Practice, and Case Law, by Donald Viglione, Corine de Ruiter, Christopher King, Gregory Meyer, Aaron Kivisto, Benjamin Rubin, and John Hunsley

“The goal of this ‘adversarial collaborative’ review is to answer: Does the Rorschach, and more specifically, the Rorschach Performance Assessment System, meet legal standards for admissibility as evidence in court?”

Using the MMPI-3 in Legal Settings, by Yossef Ben-Porath, Kirk Heilbrun, & Madelena Rizzo

“When used properly...the MMPI-3 rests on solid empirical foundations that can withstand the scrutiny inherent in forensic evaluations.”

Use of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised in Legal Contexts: Validity, Reliability, Admissibility, and Evidentiary Issues, by David DeMatteo & Mark Olver,

“We provide a comprehensive examination and review...of the PCL-R’s structural, predictive, and measurement properties for credibility in court.”

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-IV (MCMI-IV) and Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory-II (MACI-II) in Legal Settings, by Martin Sellbom, Jay Flens, Jonathan Gould, Rowena Ramnath, Robert Tringone, & Seth Grossman.

“The authors, representing a mixed perspective on the inventories, offer insights regarding theory, psychometric issues, limited peer-reviewed literature, appropriateness of the instruments in criminal and civil settings, admissibility, cross-examination, and future directions.”

The Personality Assessment Inventory in U.S. Case Law: A Survey and Examination of Relevance to Legal Proceedings, by Lauren Meaux, Jennifer Cox, John F. Edens, David DeMatteo, Alexandria Martinez, & Elizabeth Bownes,

Using the Personality Assessment Inventory-Adolescent in Legal Settings, by Nora Charles, Laura Gulledge, & Whitney Cowell

Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms-2nd Edition (SIRS-2): Use and Admissibility in Forensic Mental Health Assessment, by Dustin Wygant, Allison Connelly, & Laura Disney

The MacCAT-CA and the ECST-R in Competency to Stand Trial Evaluations: A Critical Review & Practical Implications, by Jaime Anderson, Jake Plantz, Sabine Glocker, & Patricia Zapf.

Legal Admissibility of the Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST*MR), by Mary E. Wood, Kimberly P. Brown, Amanda R. Bitting, Christopher Slobogin, & Brooke Bowerman,

Trauma Symptom Inventory, by Joseph Roberts, Paul Arbisi, Melissa John, Ksera Dyette, Rachel Seamans, Mariya Leyderman


Yosef Ben-Porath

Jamie Anderson

Paul Arbisi

Gregory Meyer

Dustin Wygant


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