Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Date of Defense

7-17-2008

Graduate Advisor

Brian Vandenberg, PhD

Committee

Robert Calsyn

Steven Bruce, Ph.D.

Carl Bassi, Ph.D.

Abstract

Competency to stand trial evaluations serve as the most frequently requested type of forensic evaluation. Despite the court?s need for accurate and credible information, defendants referred for competency evaluations may be motivated to malinger incompetency in order to avoid trial and gain personal liberty (Rogers, Sewell, Grandjean, & Vitacco, 2002). Furthermore, motivated malingerers can obtain information about tests prior to evaluations, particularly from the Internet and their attorneys. Previous research has demonstrated that coaching on test-taking strategies helps malingerers avoid detection on psychological tests like the MMPI-2 (e.g., Storm & Graham, 2000), but no research has examined the effects of test-strategy coaching on competency measures. This study investigated the detection of malingering on two measures of competency to stand trial: the Georgia Court Competency Test (GCCT) and the Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial ? Revised (ECST-R). Using a simulation design, undergraduates (n = 101) were randomly assigned into Control (instructed to respond honestly), Uncoached Malingerer (instructed to feign incompetency without receiving tips to elude detection), and Coached Malingerer groups (instructed to feign incompetency and received tips to elude detection) and presented with a hypothetical criminal case scenario that required them to undergo a competency evaluation. Scores on the GCCT and the ECST-R Factual Scale served as indicators of competency, while scores on the GCCT Atypical Presentation and ECST-R Atypical Presentation scales served as indicators of malingering. MANOVA and profile analysis were employed. As expected, results indicate that both malingering groups appeared markedly impaired on overall competency scores in comparison to the Control group. Furthermore, the two malingering groups appeared markedly elevated on malingering scale scores in comparison to the Control group. Contrary to expectations, test-strategy coaching exerted little impact on competency and malingering scale scores. Both malingering scales effectively discriminated between malingerers and honest responders. The findings allow for cautious optimism in the ability of these measures? malingering screens to detect feigned incompetency, even when individuals receive coaching on how to defeat the measures. Moreover, this study adds to the growing body of literature underscoring the importance of the assessment of malingering as a routine component of competency evaluations.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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