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2003 Jul;18(5):473-85.

The construct validity of the Lees-Haley Fake Bad Scale. Does this scale measure somatic malingering and feigned emotional distress?


The Fake Bad Scale (FBS [Psychol. Rep. 68 (1991) 203]) was created from MMPI-2 items to assess faking of physical complaints among personal injury claimants. Little psychometric information is available on the measure. This study was conducted to investigate the psychometric characteristics of the FBS using MMPI-2 profiles from six settings: Psychiatric Inpatient (N=6731); Correctional Facility (N=2897); Chronic Pain Program (N=4408); General Medical (N=5080); Veteran's Administration Hospital Inpatient (N=901); and Personal Injury Litigation (N=157). Most correlations of the FBS and raw scores on the MMPI-2 were positive with correlations among the validity scales being lower than correlations among the clinical and content scales. The FBS was most strongly correlated with raw scores on Hs, D, Hy, HEA, and DEP. When the more conservative cutoff of 26 was used, the FBS classified 2.4-30.6% of individuals as malingerers. The highest malingering classification was for the women's personal injury sample (37.9%) while the lowest was among male prison inmates (2.3%). Compared to men, in most samples, almost twice as many women were classified as malingerers. The results indicate that the FBS is more likely to measure general maladjustment and somatic complaints rather than malingering. The rate of false positives produced by the scale is unacceptably high, especially in psychiatric settings. The scale is likely to classify an unacceptably large number of individuals who are experiencing genuine psychological distress as malingerers. It is recommended that the FBS not be used in clinical settings nor should it be used during disability evaluations to determine malingering.

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