Screening for Malingering/Exaggeration of Psychiatric Symptomatology in Prison Inmates Using the PICTS Confusion and Infrequency Scales


  • The assertions and opinions contained herein are the private views of the author and should not be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the United States Department of Justice.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Glenn D. Walters, Ph.D.
Psychology Services
PO Box 700
Minersville, PA 17954


Abstract:  A sample of 76 federal prison inmates with a history or current complaints of significant psychiatric symptomatology at intake were followed for a period of 4–39 months by a psychologist who rated the inmate as malingering (n = 12), substantially exaggerating (n = 32), minimally exaggerating (n = 23), or honestly reporting (n = 9) signs and symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, or severe anxiety disorder. The Confusion-revised (Cf-r) and Infrequency (INF) scales of the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles, which had been administered routinely at intake, revealed that only the INF successfully predicted malingering and exaggeration of psychiatric symptomatology even after pre-existing group differences in age, race, and overall criminal thinking were controlled. These results suggest that the INF scale can potentially serve as an effective initial screening measure for malingering/exaggeration in inmates presenting with mental health complaints.