Starke Rosecrans Hathaway, Ph.D.

Test Developed:
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
(MMPI; with J. Charnley McKinley)

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"With his consistent emphasis on objectivity and eclecticism, his insistence on data in preference to inference, his commitment to collegiality and scientific openness, and his scholarly respect for both the biological and psychological dimensions of human personality, Starke Hathaway has an assured place as one of the founders of modern clinical psychology"—"so read the obituary for the co-developer of the MMPI, a test that in "its many versions and in nearly 50 languages... has been employed in hundreds of different research uses and practical applications for nearly five decades" (Dahlstrom, Meehl, & Schofield, 1986).

Born in Michigan, Hathaway spent much of his youth in Marysville, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree at Ohio University in Athens and his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Through the efforts of a psychiatrist at the University Medical School, J. Charnley McKinley, Hathaway was granted a position in the neuropsychiatry division. The two men would subsequently collaborate in the development of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI; Hathaway & McKinley, 1940).

Dahlstrom, Meehl, and Schofield (1986, p. 835) remind us that

Hathaway’s identification with the MMPI overshadowed his equally important contributions as a teacher and therapist. He was a master clinician to whom medical colleagues frequently

referred puzzling or difficult patients for diagnosis or treatment. The more difficult and challenging the case was, the more intense, persistent, and innovative were Hathaway’s efforts. He rarely failed to achieve a significant result.... Many of Hathaway’s treatment methods anticipated the behavioral interventions of today, including such methods as mild aversive shock, suggestion and hypnosis, modeling, and habit retraining.

  Hathaway’s long list of lifetime achievements includes being recipient of the American Psychological Association’s award for Distinguished Contributions for Applications in Psychology. Hathaway retired from the University of Minnesota in 1971, and he died in his home in Minneapolis on July 4, 1984.

"When I came to the University hospitals in about 1937 and began to work with patients, I started to change from a physiological psychologist toward becoming a clinical psychologist. As we went on grand rounds, I with my white coat and newly developing sense of role, expected that the medical staff would want the data and insights of a psychologist. I still remember one day when I was thinking this and suddenly asked myself,

suppose they did turn to me for aid in understanding the patients’ psychology; what substantive information did I have that wasn’t obvious on the face of the case or that represented psychology rather than what the psychiatrist had already said. I could, perhaps, say that the patient was neurotic or an introvert or other such items suggested from my available tests. I had intelligence tests,... and a few other inventories. I didn’t have any objective personality data that would go deeper or be more analytically complex than what would suggest general statements, such as that the patient was maladjusted.... [As] I then perceived [personality inventories, the] variables and interpretation were not in current jargon nor did they develop suggestions that would be of value to a staff required to make routine diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment decisions.

"The real impetus for the MMPI came from reports of results with insulin shock treatment of schizophrenia. The early statistics on treatment outcomes, as is characteristic of new treatment ideas, promised everything from 100% cure to no effect and no value. It occurred to me that the enormous variance in effectiveness as reported from hospital to hospital depended partly upon the unreliability of the validity criterion—"the diagnostic statements. If there were some

way in which we could pick experimental groups of patients using objective methods, then outcome tests for treatment efficacy should be more uniform and meaningful. I did not have any objective personality instrument that was adaptable to such a design; and, thinking about the needs, I got the idea of an empirically developed inventory that could be extended indefinitely by development of new scales." (S. R. Hathaway, quoted in Mednick et al., 1975, pp. 350–"351)


Dahlstrom, W. G., Welsh, G. S., & Dahlstrom, L. E. (1972). An MMPI handbook: A guide to use in clinical practice and research. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hathaway, S. R., & McKinley, J. C. (1940). The MMPI manual. New York: Psychological Corporation.

McAllister, L. W. (1988). A practical guide to CPI interpretation (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Mednick, S. A., Higgins, J., & Kirschenbaum, J. (1975). Psychology. New York: Wiley.

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