Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 368-374

First online:

Differentiating Bipolar Disorder from Major Depressive Disorder Using the MMPI-2-RF: A Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) Analysis

  • Chris WatsonAffiliated withClinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • , Lena C. QuiltyAffiliated withClinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • , R. Michael BagbyAffiliated withClinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Email author 

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We examined the utility of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2-Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) to differentiate patients with lifetime bipolar disorder (BD) from patients with lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD), and to differentiate patients with BD who are currently depressed from patients with current MDD. Sixty-one patients with BD (BD-I n = 51, BD-II n = 10) and 381 patients with MDD were administered the MMPI-2; MMPI-2-RF scale scores were derived from these MMPI-2 protocols. Receiver operating characteristics analysis revealed that the MMPI-2-RF Activation (ACT) scale had the largest Area Under the Curve (AUC), which was 0.74. Using a cut-off score of 4 on the ACT scale resulted in 71% of patients being correctly classified as having BD or MDD (sensitivity = 0.67, specificity = 0.71). An examination of currently depressed patients with BD (n = 29) and a randomly selected sample of MDD patients (n = 29) revealed that the ACT scale correctly classified 72% of patients (AUC = 0.75, sensitivity = 0.69, specificity = 0.76). Implications and limitations of these findings were discussed.


Bipolar disorder Major depressive disorder MMPI-2-RF Activation scale ROC analysis