Malingering and Deception Evaluation

Psychologists are frequently asked to assist the courts in answering a psycholegal question. Such psychological assessment is subject to malingering or deception. Examinees may attempt to either fake good or fake bad in both the interview and testing. The forensic psychologist must always be wary of the examinee’s attempt to malinger due to the secondary gain present in most forensic assessments. For example, an individual charged with a crime may feign mental illness to avoid going to trial, or may fake or exaggerate symptoms in order to attempt to be found not criminally responsible and therefore, not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). Another instance in which an individual may attempt to feign mental illness is the evaluation of psychological damages in a personal injury lawsuit.


The psychologist needs to be able to recognize faked or exaggerated symptoms. Malingering is not necessarily an either-or situation. The psychologist must be able to distinguish the actual psychological impairment or suffering from exaggerated or feigned symptoms. The detection of malingering requires clinical acumen as well as sound psychological assessment and psychological testing. Psychologists need excellent clinical skills to detect the presence and extent of malingering during an evaluation and Dr. Vincent has extensive experience in this area. Dr. Vincent relies on a review of records for evidence or lack thereof of mental impairment or disability. She also relies on specialized psychological testing when conducting such an evaluation. Most of the psychological testing that is designed to detect malingering is based on the assumption that the examinee will exaggerate or produce symptoms not generally seen in clinical populations.