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Professional Psychology: Research and Practice Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.

2003, Vol. 34, No. 5, 491– 498 0735-7028/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0735-7028.34.5.491

What Tests Are Acceptable for Use in Forensic Evaluations?

A Survey of Experts
Stephen J. Lally
Argosy University/Washington, DC

When conducting a forensic evaluation, what psychological tests do experts consider acceptable to use?
The answer is useful to psychologists making practice decisions but also to the courts, who rely on others’
opinions to base one of the criteria for determining the admissibility of testimony. The author surveyed
diplomates in forensic psychology (N ⫽ 64) regarding both the frequency with which they use and their
opinions about the acceptability of a variety of psychological tests in 6 areas of forensic practice. The 6
areas were mental state at the offense, risk for violence, risk for sexual violence, competency to stand
trial, competency to waive Miranda rights, and malingering. Results are presented for each practice area,
and the implications of these results for the courts, future research, and practice are discussed.

As many psychologists are considering entering forensic prac- helpful to know whether there is general acceptance in the field for
tice, either in a primary or secondary role, they are uniquely the use of a particular test.
positioned to provide testimony to the court, as compared with There is a long tradition of surveying psychologists about the
other mental health professionals. Other mental health profession- tests they use in their practice (e.g., Brown & McGuire, 1976;
als, including psychiatrists, the traditional providers of expert Louttit & Browne, 1947; Lubin, Larsen, & Matarazzo, 1984;
testimony, generally base their opinions solely on their interview Lubin, Wallis, & Paine, 1971; Watkins, Campbell, Nieberding, &
of a defendant or plaintiff and on collateral sources (records and Hallmark, 1995). These surveys help inform both practitioners and
interviews of other relevant parties). Psychological tests provide training programs about what tests psychologists are using. They
psychologists with a third source of information, and with these provide a measure of what is the actual standard of practice in the
three legs on which to rest their opinions, psychologists have a field. The surveys also document how particular tests change in
more stable and valid foundation as the basis of their testimony. popularity. Within forensic psychology (Lees-Haley, Smith, Wil-
However, all psychological tests are not created equal; some are liams, & Dunn, 1996; Martin, Allan, & Allan, 2001), the informa-
more appropriate than others for use in a forensic evaluation. For tion provided by these surveys has an additional purpose. It can be
psychologists entering forensic practice, it is useful to know what used to argue for the admission or exclusion of evidence based on
tests are used by forensic psychologists; even more pertinent is these tests.
understanding what tests are appropriate for particular types of In 1923, an appellate court (Frye v. United States, 1923) ruled
forensic evaluations. The answer to this question not only helps that an early form of the polygraph was too experimental to be
guide practice decisions but also addresses an important element allowed into evidence. The court set a standard that expert testi-
that courts use to decide whether an expert’s opinion is admissible mony must be based on scientific principles that “have gained
at a hearing or trial. Even though it has been 40 years since the general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs”
courts have officially recognized psychologists’ place as experts to (Frye v. United States, 1923, p. 1014). Although Frye was only
provide testimony (Jenkins v. United States, 1962), the admissi- binding within the court’s jurisdiction of Washington, DC, it
bility of testimony based on psychological test results still gets became the model for other courts. It became the “dominant
challenged. For the psychologist facing such challenges, it is standard for determining the admissibility of novel scientific evi-
dence” (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 1993, p.
2792) for much of the 20th century. Although it came under
STEPHEN J. LALLY received his PhD in clinical psychology from the increasing criticism, it was used by the majority of courts up until
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1988. He is a diplomate in 1993 (Daubert), when the Supreme Court, in a series of rulings
forensic psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. starting with Daubert (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,
He is currently a professor and head of the Department of Clinical Psy- Inc., 1993; General Electric v. Joiner, 1997; Kumho Tire v. Car-
chology at the American School of Professional Psychology, Argosy michael, 1999; Weisgram v. Marley, 2000), articulated a new
University/Washington, DC. His research interests include psychological standard based on the Federal Rules of Evidence 702. The Court
assessment and forensic psychology. stated that expert testimony must be both scientifically valid and
I AM GRATEFUL TO Robert Kline III for his efforts in the collection of the
relevant. The court also listed four criteria that the trial judge could
use to decide whether the reasoning and methodology underlying
phen J. Lally, Department of Clinical Psychology, American School of the testimony was scientifically valid. Although the goal was to
Professional Psychology, Argosy University/Washington, DC, 1550 Wil- open avenues for novel science to be allowed into testimony, one
son Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, Virginia 22209. E-mail: of the four listed criteria remained the Frye standard of “general acceptance.” Most jurisdictions follow Daubert or a Daubert-like


standard, although 23 states still use Frye or some unique standard samples, and, if they are approved, the applicant must then pass a
or have not definitively ruled on the matter (Phillips v. Industrial 3-hr oral examination administered by three diplomates covering
Machine, 1999). What this means is that whether a test or tech- the applicant’s knowledge of his or her areas of practice as well as
nique has general acceptance within a field is still very relevant to his or her general knowledge of forensic psychology. Because of
whether a court allows expert testimony based on the test or these qualifications, these diplomates in forensic psychology ap-
technique. pear to represent an ideal sample to query about the acceptability
With some notable exceptions (e.g., Ackerman & Ackerman, of a test or technique within the field of forensic psychology.
1997; Borum & Grisso, 1995; Keilin & Bloom, 1986; Lees-Haley, All diplomates who were listed in a recent directory (ABFP,
1992; Lees-Haley et al., 1996; Martin et al., 2001; Naar, 1961; 1999) or who were listed on the ABFP Web site (
Pinkerman, Haynes, & Kaiser, 1993), there has been relatively less in November 2000 were sent a letter and a survey requesting their
effort to survey the practice of forensic psychology as compared participation. The return envelopes were coded to keep track of
with general clinical practice. This specific focus on forensic nonresponders, and 1 month after the initial mailing, a follow-up
psychology is important, as the questions asked in forensic eval- letter was sent to all nonresponders. Of the 187 diplomates iden-
uations differ from standard clinical or therapeutic evaluations and tified, 5 surveys were returned undelivered and 64 were com-
thus surveys of general clinical practice are of less relevance to this pleted. This resulted in a 35% adjusted return rate, comparable to
issue of admissibility. In addition, in the last decade, a large past survey efforts.
number of forensic assessment instruments (FAIs; Grisso, 1986), The survey asked about six areas of forensic practice: mental
standardized methods which assess behaviors directly relevant to state at the time of the offense (MSO), risk for future violence, risk
legal issues, have been introduced. These FAIs are generally less for future sexual violence, competency to stand trial (CST), com-
well known to judges and attorneys, and even though many have petency to waive Miranda rights, and malingering. Respondents
high levels of reliability and validity, they can have difficulty were asked to rate a number of specific tests as to whether the tests
gaining admission into testimony. A survey that includes these were considered unacceptable, acceptable, or acceptable and rec-
instruments can provide useful information to help courts decide ommended. The psychologists were also given the option of
which of these new tests, and also which of the more traditional checking “no opinion” and were encouraged to check that option
tests, should be admitted as evidence. if they were not familiar with a test or technique. They were also
In addition to the importance of distinguishing surveys of fo- asked to list the frequency with which they used a test or technique
rensic practice from surveys of standard clinical practice, it is when conducting evaluations in each area of practice. Respondents
important to differentiate between different types of forensic ex- were given the option of declining to give any opinion about a
aminations. General surveys of forensic practice (e.g., Martin et particular area of forensic practice. Because some respondents did
al., 2001) are less useful than surveys that examine test use for not feel qualified to rate some areas of practice and some others
specific types of forensic evaluations (e.g., Borum & Grisso, 1995; were no longer involved in active practice, the number of respon-
Rogers & Cavanaugh, 1983), as a test that may be acceptable for dents who rated tests in a specific area was less than the total
one type of evaluation— competency to stand trial—may not be number of returned surveys (N ⫽ 64). It ranged from a high of 53
for another kind of evaluation— child custody. Finally, if a psy- for the questions about assessing malingering to a low of 40 for
chological test is used by a high percentage of psychologists evaluation of competency to waive Miranda rights.
responding to a survey, then it might be argued that there is general The results are summarized in six categories. The first category
acceptance of the test. However, frequency of use and acceptabil- includes those tests or techniques that at least half of respondents
ity are not the same thing. A test may be infrequently used because rated as recommended for a particular practice area by endorsing
of cost, unavailability, or lack of widespread training on its ad- that the test was “acceptable and recommended.” The second
ministration, and yet there may be general agreement among category, acceptable, includes those tests and techniques that at
experts in the field that it is an acceptable test. In general, surveys least half of the respondents rated as either “acceptable” or “ac-
of psychologists have only asked about use and have not ques- ceptable and recommended.” The third and fourth categories are
tioned psychologists about acceptability. It is the acceptability of a equivocal. Tests or techniques in which at least half of respondents
test, not its frequency of use, that is the legally relevant informa- did not rate them as “acceptable,” “unacceptable,” or “no opinion”
tion that should determine a test’s admissibility. were placed in this category. Equivocal was further subdivided
into whether the largest majority of respondents were divided
The Survey of Forensic Diplomates between whether a test was “acceptable” or “unacceptable” or
The participants of this survey were psychologists who had been whether the largest majority of the respondents were divided
awarded the diplomate from the American Board of Forensic between “acceptable” or “no opinion.” The former are categorized
Psychology (ABFP). The ABFP is the recognized board-certifying as equivocal– unacceptable and the latter are categorized as
agency of the American Board of Professional Psychology equivocal–no opinion. The fifth category includes those tests or
(ABPP). Although there are other boards (e.g., American Board of techniques that at least half of the respondents rated as unaccept-
Psychological Specialties) that award diplomates in forensic psy- able. The sixth category of no opinion was used when at least half
chology, the ABFP was the first national board and the ABPP of respondents felt they could not give an opinion about a test or
board certification is widely recognized by state licensing boards technique for a specific type of evaluation.
and national associations. To apply for a diplomate, a psychologist In conducting evaluations of an individual’s mental state at the
must have been engaged in 1,000 hr of forensic psychology over time of the offense (see Table 1), the Roger’s Criminal Responsi-
a 5-year period and have completed 100 hr of specialized training bility Assessment, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory–2
in forensic psychology. The applicant then must submit two work (MMPI-2), Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), Millon Clin-

Table 1
Mental State at the Time of the Offense Evaluations (n ⫽ 52)

Category Measure

Recommended WAIS–III (60%), MMPI-2 (54%)

Acceptable WAIS–III (96%), R-CRAS (94%), MMPI-2 (94%), Halstead–Reitan

(71%), PAI (69%), Luria–Nebraska (58%), MCMI–III (54%),
Stanford–Binet–Revised (52%)

Equivocal–unacceptable MCMI–II, Rorschach, 16PF

Unacceptable Projective drawings (81%), TAT (65%), sentence completion (60%)

No opinion KBIT (52%), WASI (50%)

Note. The percentage listed after the test in the recommended, acceptable, unacceptable, and no opinion
categories is the percentage of the sample that endorsed that category. Recommended ⫽ majority of respondents
recommended the test; Acceptable ⫽ majority of respondents endorsed the test as acceptable; Equivocal–
unacceptable ⫽ the majority of the respondents did not endorse the test as acceptable, unacceptable, or no
opinion, and the majority was divided between acceptable and unacceptable; Equivocal–no opinion ⫽ the
majority of the respondents did not endorse the test as acceptable, unacceptable, or no opinion, and the majority
was divided between acceptable and no opinion; Unacceptable ⫽ the majority of the respondents endorsed the
test as unacceptable; No opinion ⫽ the majority of the respondents endorsed no opinion for the test.

ical Multiaxial Inventory—III (MCMI–III), Wechsler Adult Intel- Checklist—Screening Version (PCL–SV), Violence Risk Ap-
ligence Scale—III (WAIS–III), Stanford–Binet–Revised, Halstead– praisal Guide (VRAG), MMPI-2, WAIS–III, and PAI were rated
Reitan, and Luria–Nebraska were rated acceptable by the majority as acceptable by the majority of the diplomates. Only the PCL–R
of respondents. However, only the MMPI-2 and the WAIS–III was rated as recommended by more than half of the respondents.
were rated as recommended by the majority of the diplomates. The Both versions of the MCMI (II and III) along with the Stanford–
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory–II (MCMI–II), the Ror- Binet–Revised were in the equivocal– unacceptable category. The
schach, and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) HCR-20, WASI, KBIT, Luria–Nebraska, Stanford–Binet–
were in the equivocal– unacceptable category, where the majority Revised, and Halstead–Reitan received divided endorsement be-
of the respondents were divided between rating the instruments as tween acceptable and no opinion and thus were categorized as
acceptable or unacceptable. The majority of the respondents rated equivocal–no opinion. The Rorschach, 16PF, projective drawings,
the following tests as unacceptable for mental state at the time of sentence completion, and TAT were rated as unacceptable for risk
the offense evaluations: projective drawings, sentence completion, of violence evaluations by the majority of the psychologists. The
and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The last category, no majority of those surveyed had no opinion about the acceptability
opinion, was checked by at least half of the psychologists for the of the Levels of Service Inventory.
Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and the Kauf- In conducting evaluations of an individual’s risk for sexual
man Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT). violence (see Table 3), the majority of the respondents rated as
For evaluations of an individual’s risk of violence (see Table 2), acceptable the PCL–R, PCL–SV, VRAG, Sexual Offender Risk
the Psychopathy Checklist—Revised (PCL–R), Psychopathy Appraisal Guide, Sexual Violent Risk–20, MMPI-2, PAI, WAIS–

Table 2
Risk for Violence Evaluations (n ⫽ 51)

Category Measure

Recommended PCL–R (63%)

Acceptable PCL–R (88%), MMPI-2 (88%), PCL–SV (73%), VRAG (73%),

WAIS–III (67%), PAI (61%)

Equivocal–unacceptable MCMI (II and III), Stanford–Binet–Revised

Equivocal–no opinion HCR-20, WASI, KBIT, Luria–Nebraska, Halstead–Reitan

Unacceptable Projective Drawings (90%), TAT (82%), sentence completion (71%),

Rorschach (53%), 16PF (53%)

No opinion LSI (80%)

Note. See Table 1 note.


Table 3
Risk for Sexual Violence Evaluations (n ⫽ 42)

Category Measure

Recommended PCL–R (62%)

Acceptable PCL–R (91%), MMPI-2 (81%), PCL–SV (71%), WAIS–III (71%),

VRAG (67%), SORAG (62%), penile plethysmograph (60%),
SVR-20 (57%), PAI (55%)

Equivocal–unacceptable MCMI–III, Stanford–Binet–Revised

Equivocal–no opinion Abel Screen, WASI, KBIT, Halstead–Reitan, Luria–Nebraska

Unacceptable Projective drawings (95%), sentence completion (76%), TAT

(76%), 16PF (60%), Rorschach (52%), MCMI–II (50%)

No opinion Aggressive Sexual Behavior Inventory (81%), Coercive Sexual

Fantasies Questionnaire (76%), MASA (76%), RMAS (72%),
MSI (57%)

Note. See Table 1 note.

III, and penile plethysmograph. Only the PCL–R was recom- Adjudication (MacCAT-CA), Competency to Stand Trial Assess-
mended by the majority of the diplomates for a risk of sexual ment Instrument, WAIS–III, Competency Screening Test, Inter-
violence evaluation. The survey respondents were divided between disciplinary Fitness Interview—Revised, Georgia Court Compe-
acceptable and no opinion (or equivocal–no opinion) about the tency Test, MMPI-2, PAI, Stanford–Binet–Revised, Halstead–
Abel Screen, WASI, KBIT, Halstead–Reitan, and Luria–Nebraska. Reitan, and Luria–Nebraska. Of all those tests, only the
The MCMI–III and the Stanford–Binet–Revised both were cate- MacCAT-CA and the WAIS–III were recommended by the ma-
gorized as equivocal– unacceptable. At least half of the diplomates jority of respondents. The diplomates were divided between ac-
felt that the following tests and techniques were not acceptable: ceptable and no opinion about the acceptability of using the WASI,
MCMI–II, Rorschach, 16PF, projective drawings, sentence com- Georgia Court Competency Test–Mississippi Hospital, and Com-
pletion, and TAT. The majority of the psychologists had no opin- petency Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants With Men-
ion about the use of the following tests and techniques for evalu- tal Retardation for a competency to stand trial evaluation. The
ating risk for sexual violence: the Multiphasic Sex Inventory, Burt MCMI–III, which the majority of respondents were divided be-
Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, Multidimensional Assessment of tween acceptable and unacceptable, was categorized as equivocal–
Sex and Aggression, Aggressive Sexual Behavior Inventory, and unacceptable. At least half of the sample viewed as unacceptable
Coercive Sexual Fantasies Questionnaire. the MCMI–II, Rorschach, 16PF, projective drawings, sentence
For evaluations of individual’s competency to stand trial (see completion, and TAT. At least half of the respondents also had no
Table 4), at least half of the respondents rated the following tests opinion about the use of the Computer Assisted Determination of
as acceptable: MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool–Criminal Competency to Proceed and KBIT.

Table 4
Competency to Stand Trial Evaluations (n ⫽ 52)

Category Measure

Recommended WAIS–III (62%), MacCAT–CA (56%)

Acceptable MacCAT–CA (90%), WAIS–III (90%), CAI (85%), CST (77%),

MMPI-2 (73%), GCCT (65%), Halstead–Reitan (64%), IFI–R
(62%), Stanford–Binet–Revised (54%), PAI (52%), Luria–
Nebraska (50%)

Equivocal–unacceptable MCMI–III

Equivocal–no opinion GCCT–MSH, CAST*MR, WASI

Unacceptable Projective drawings (87%), TAT (77%), sentence completion

(69%), Rorschach (60%), 16PF (58%), MCMI–II (50%)

No opinion CADCOMP (85%), KBIT (50%)

Note. See Table 1 note.


In conducting evaluations of an individual’s competency to 85% for mental state at the time of the offense evaluations. Within
waive Miranda rights (see Table 5), the majority of the diplomates each practice area, the psychologists reported that they used, with
rated as acceptable Grisso’s Instruments for Assessing Under- at least some frequency, an average of 3.9 (competency to waive
standing and Appreciation of Miranda Rights (Grisso instru- Miranda rights evaluations) to 5.8 (assessing malingering) differ-
ments), the MMPI-2, WAIS–III, Stanford–Binet–Revised, ent tests or techniques. Not surprisingly, almost all (either 99% or
Halstead–Reitan, and Luria–Nebraska. The Grisso instruments and 100%, depending on the practice area) of the respondents rated the
the WAIS–III were the only tests that were recommended by the tests and techniques that they used as being at least acceptable.
majority of the respondents. The majority of the psychologists However, across the different practice areas, most diplomates
were divided between acceptable and no opinion (equivocal–no listed a number of tests and techniques (average ranged from 3.4
opinion) for the PAI, WASI, and KBIT. The majority of the to 6.6, depending on the practice area) that they did not use in their
respondents were divided between acceptable and unacceptable practice but which they rated as acceptable to use for the specific
(equivocal– unacceptable) for the MCMI–III. The majority of the type of forensic evaluation.
survey’s respondents rated the following tests as unacceptable to In summary, the results clearly indicate that frequency of use is
use in an evaluation of an individual’s competency to waive not the same as general acceptance. Almost without exception, if
Miranda rights: MCMI–II, Rorschach, 16PF, projective drawings, a test or technique was used with at least some frequency, the
sentence completion, and TAT. responding diplomates rated that test or technique as acceptable.
For the evaluation of malingering (see Table 6), the majority of However, there was almost an equal number of tests and tech-
the respondents rated as acceptable the Structured Interview of niques that were not used by the respondents but that were judged
Reported Symptoms (SIRS), Test of Memory Malingering, Valid- as acceptable for use. This illustrates why just examining the
ity Indicator Profile, Rey Fifteen Item Visual Memory Test, frequency of use is not a sufficient measure for judging whether a
MMPI-2, PAI, WAIS–III, and Halstead–Reitan. The SIRS and the test meets the general acceptance criteria. Although some tests
MMPI-2 were recommended by the majority. The psychologists were rated as acceptable across the different types of evaluations,
were divided between acceptable and unacceptable about using the strength of endorsement varied by type of evaluation. In
either version of the MCMI (II or III). They were also divided, addition, some tests were rated as acceptable for one area and not
although between acceptable and no opinion, for the WASI, KBIT, for another. This highlights the importance of examining the
Luria–Nebraska, and Stanford–Binet–Revised. The diplomates acceptability of tests by type of forensic evaluation.
viewed as unacceptable for evaluating malingering the Rorschach,
16PF, projective drawings, sentence completion, and TAT. The Implications
majority gave no opinion on the acceptability of the Malingering
Probability Scale, M-Test, Victoria Symptom Validity Test, and The results of the survey can help inform and guide both
Portland Digit Recognition Test. entering as well as established forensic psychologists about the
In addition to being asked their opinion about the acceptability choice of tests that are used for specific forensic evaluations. It is
of various tests and techniques in different areas of forensic important to note that although a test may be recommended by the
practice, the diplomates were asked to list the frequency with majority of the diplomates for a particular type of evaluation, this
which they used the tests and techniques in their practice (see is not the same as stating that the standard of care requires the use
Table 7). The majority of the respondents provided information of such a test. It is interesting to note that across the different
about the frequency of use. Specifically, the number of respon- practice areas, a number of the recently developed FAIs were rated
dents providing information about frequency of use ranged from a favorably by the surveyed psychologists. In fact, in five of the six
low of 64% for assessments of risk for sexual violence to a high of evaluation categories, FAIs were rated by the majority of the

Table 5
Competency to Waive Miranda Rights Evaluations (n ⫽ 40)

Category Measure

Recommended WAIS–III (83%), Grisso instruments (55%)

Acceptable WAIS–III (100%), Grisso instruments (88%), MMPI-2 (70%),

Halstead–Reitan (68%), Stanford–Binet–Revised (63%), Luria–
Nebraska (55%)

Equivocal–unacceptable MCMI–III

Equivocal–no opinion PAI, WASI, KBIT

Unacceptable Projective drawings (95%), TAT (78%), sentence completion (70%),

Rorschach (63%), 16PF (63%), MCMI–II (55%)

No opinion

Note. See Table 1 note.


Table 6
Malingering Evaluations (n ⫽ 53)

Category Measure

Recommended MMPI-2 (64%), SIRS (58%)

Acceptable MMPI-2 (92%), SIRS (89%), WAIS–III (75%), Rey (68%), PAI
(53%), VIP (53%), TOMM (64%), Halstead–Reitan (51%)

Equivocal–unacceptable MCMI (II or III), Stanford–Binet–Revised

Equivocal–no opinion WASI, KBIT, Luria–Nebraska

Unacceptable Projective drawings (89%), sentence completion (72%), TAT

(72%) 16PF (66%), Rorschach (55%)

No opinion VSVT (72%), M-Test (64%), Portland Digit Recognition Test

(60%), MPS (58%)

Note. See Table 1 note.

diplomates as not only acceptable but also recommended. Clearly, were also positively rated in MSO, CST, and Miranda waiver
although courts and attorneys, and even many psychologists, may evaluations. In addition, the Halstead–Reitan was rated as accept-
be less familiar with these instruments, many of the FAIs are able for assessing malingering. Some objective personality tests
strongly endorsed and accepted by experts in the field. In 1995, did not fare so well. The MCMI–III was only rated as acceptable
Borum and Grisso predicted that these instruments would be in MSO evaluations and was viewed equivocally in the other areas.
increasingly used and valued by clinicians; these results support This less-than-glowing endorsement probably reflects some of the
their prediction. Not all FAIs were positively endorsed; a number criticism of the instrument that has been raised recently in the
were categorized as either equivocal–no opinion or no opinion. literature (Rogers, Salekin, & Sewell, 1999). There was greater
This may reflect either some controversy about a particular instru- consensus about the 16PF; in five of the practice areas, the ma-
ment or that a test is just not very well known in the field. jority of respondents rated it as unacceptable. This negative eval-
A number of tests were fairly uniformly endorsed across the uation may reflect some of the weaknesses that critics have pre-
evaluation types. This includes the stalwarts of the MMPI-2 and viously identified (Rotto, 1995).
the WAIS–III, and, to a lesser degree, the relative newcomer, the Projective tests were also not viewed favorably by the majority
PAI. The two traditional neuropsychological batteries (Luria– of the respondents. Specifically, projective drawings were over-
Nebraska and Halstead–Reitan) and the Stanford–Binet–Revised whelmingly— between 81% and 95% of the respondents, depend-

Table 7
Frequency of Use and Acceptability of Tests and Techniques

No. of tests
No. of tests not used rated
% reporting reported used % of tests as acceptable
frequency used rated as
Type of evaluation of use M SD acceptable M SD

MSO 85 (44/52) 4.7 2.0 100 3.8 3.6

Risk for violence 82 (42/51) 5.1 2.7 99 3.8 3.0

Risk for sexual violence 64 (27/42) 5.7 3.1 99 5.7 3.3

CST 83 (43/52) 5.4 2.5 99 6.6 4.0

Miranda waiver 73 (29/40) 3.9 1.7 100 3.4 2.9

Malingering pathology 74 (39/53) 5.8 2.2 99 3.7 2.9

Note. % reporting frequency of use ⫽ percentage of respondents who reported the frequency of use of any tests
and techniques; values in parentheses are the number of respondents who reported the frequency of use over the
total number of respondents who provided ratings for the evaluation area. No. of tests reported used ⫽ number
of tests reported used with at least minimal frequency; % of tests used rated as acceptable ⫽ percentage of tests
used with at least minimal frequency that were also rated as acceptable; No. of tests not used rated as
acceptable ⫽ number of tests reported as not being used but still rated as acceptable; MSO ⫽ mental state at the
time of the offense; CST ⫽ competency to stand trial; Miranda waiver ⫽ competency to waive Miranda rights.

ing on type of evaluation—rated as unacceptable. This uniformity easily decide that endorsement by a third of the professionals in a
of opinion is consistent with the concerns about projective draw- field would constitute general acceptance. Also, the endorsement
ings that I raised in an earlier article (Lally, 2001). With somewhat by the majority of respondents to this survey does not substitute for
less uniformity of opinion, the TAT and sentence completion tests the court’s assessment of the relevance and reliability of the
were also rated as unacceptable across the different evaluation evidence. Under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
types by the majority of the respondents. Although the Rorschach (1993), general acceptance is only one criterion for deciding
was not rated as negatively as other projective tests, it was still whether evidence based on a test should be admissible. Tests or
rated by the majority of respondents as unacceptable in five of the techniques that have not attained general acceptance— however
six evaluation areas. The appropriateness and acceptability of that is defined by the court—may still be admitted under other
using the Rorschach in forensic evaluations has recently been the criteria. Some recent articles (e.g., Grove et al., 2002; Lally, 2001;
focus of vigorous debate (e.g., Grove, Barden, Garb, & Lilienfeld, Rogers et al., 1999; Sachsenmaier & Lally, 2001) have examined
2002; Ritzler, Erard, & Pettigrew, 2002a, 2002b). various psychological tests and techniques with regard to the other
This survey examined forensic experts’ opinion about the ac- Daubert criteria, but more work should be done in this area.
ceptability of using various tests and techniques within six areas of Currently, courts often decide about whether a test or technique
forensic practice. However, a test may be seen as acceptable in has gained “general acceptance in the particular field” (Frye v.
other areas of clinical or forensic practice. For example, a test that United States, 1923, p. 1014) based on the testimony of a single
is rated as unacceptable in evaluating risk for violence might be mental health professional, who may not even be a psychologist.
judged differently in an assessment of psychosis. In addition, The results of this study provide the courts with a firmer scientific
although a test may be rated favorably in a particular practice area, foundation on which to make a determination of admissibility.
that does not mean that test might be used in a manner that would
not either be considered acceptable by the experts or admissible in References
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Rogers, R., Salekin, R. T., & Sewell, K. W. (1999). Validation of the Received January 6, 2003
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory for Axis II disorders: Does it meet Revision received May 9, 2003
the Daubert standard? Law and Human Behavior, 23, 425– 443. Accepted May 16, 2003 䡲