Jon Doyle, Kristen Gage, Matt Mellos, Carissa Contreras

Gunsalus, A. C., & Nelly, K. R., (2001). Korean cultural influences on the millon clinical†† multiaxial inventory-III. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 23(2), pp. 151-162.



The role of culture is of great importance when a counselor undergoes the task of personality assessment.The authors define culture as ďthe accumulation of behavioral patterns, attitudes, and symbols of individuals over timeĒ (Gunsalus & Kelly, 2001, p. 152).Personality traits are thus shaped and molded by the relative culture that sets guidelines and rules for behavioral development.

††††††††††† The authors mention that the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III (MCMI-III) is one of the more valid and popular tests used to assess personality.However, one aspect of the MCMI-III that has not been validated is how the test accounts for diverse cultural groups.The authorsí research topic is focused on how the Korean culture influences scores on the MCMI-III.

††††††††† The authors were able to find only two articles that discussed Korean personality assessment.Both studies found that Koreanís scored higher than normative samples on such things as the Depression and Schizophrenia scales on the MMPI-2 and the Lie and Neuroticism scales on the Eysenck Personality Questionaire (Han, 1996; Eysenck & Lee, 1985).These findings show that perhaps culture it to blame for the consistently divergent scores between normative samples and Koreans. The authors contend it is imperative that researchers examine if similar biases might be found within the MCMI-III; if so, assessments made may be the result of cultural factors, not deviant or maladaptive personalities.

††††††††††† Millon theorized that personality can be understood by examining three bipolar dimensions:self-other, passive-active and pleasure-pain (Strack, 1994).Each personality type is made up of a combination of the three dimensions.Millonís theory can also be extended to include the variances that occur as a function of culture.In the self versus other dimension, much data supports the notion that culture will dictate heavily where an individual lies on the dimension.This is known as the collectivism (Eastern) versus individualism (Western) debate.A collectivist is more likely to be high in ďotherĒ qualities, which, from a Western view, would suggest a personality that lacks assertiveness.The second dimension is passive versus active.Some cultures are more likely to change slowly and act in more accommodating styles (passive).Others are more akin to a society that changes rapidly and in dynamic fashion (active).The final dimension is pain versus pleasure.Some culture use pain to regulate behavior, while other utilize benevolence.

††††††††††† The authors contend that Koreans come from a culture that is high in other and passive tendencies (because of lack of research, the authors omitted any examination of the pain-pleasure dimension).Because of this, the hypothesis is that Koreans will score higher on the Dependant and Compulsive scales on the MCMI-III.


††††††††††† The participants were 147 students from a university in Seoul, Korea.All spoke English well.The control group was 132 American college students.

††††††††††† The MCMI-III has 24 scales, including 11 clinical personality disorder (e.g. Avoidant), three personality pathology (e.g. Borderline), seven clinical syndromes (e.g. Anxiety), and three sever clinical syndromes (e.g. Thought Disorder).The test-retest reliability ranges from .82 to .96.Because the test was standardized on a psychiatric population, clinicians must be weary when diagnosing a non-clinical population with the MCMI-III.

††††††††††† The Independent variable was culture and the dependant variable was scores on the MCMI-III.


††††††††††† Results were obtained using a MANOVA.The first hypothesis was supported; Koreans scored significantly higher than Americans on the Dependant scale.†† There was no significant difference on the Compulsive scale.


††††††††††† The most salient thing implied by the study that a universal model for assessment is not possible when there are different cultural norms present.Therefore, counselors should be careful when assessing first and second generation Koreanís, realizing that other and passive qualities were important in their home culture.††††††††

Research Paper

Presentation Outline


Korean Cultural Influences on the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III


I. Introduction

A.   Background of Study

1.     Korean culture and the Millon Multiaxial Inventory III

B.    Empirical Findings

1.     Eyseneck and Lee (1985)

2.     Han (1996)

3.     Choca et al., (1992)

4.     Walters, Greene, Jeffrey, Kruzich, & Haskin (1983)

II. Overview of Millonís Personality Theory

A.   3 Bipolar Dimensions

1.     Self-other

2.     Passive-active

3.     Pleasure-pain

B.    Millon and Davis (1996)

III. Extension of Millonís Theory to the Sociocultural Level

A.   Escovar (1997)

B.Self vs. Other

1.     Collectivists give high priority to maintaining good relationships therefore; they are likely to suppress negative communications and to tell others what they want to hear in order to avoid negative feelings and conflicts (Triandis, 1994).

C.   Passive vs. Active

1.     Some cultural groups have a passive orientation and prefer to preserve their environment and change slowly, while other groups have an active orientation that leads to a more dynamic and rapidly changing society.

D.   Pain vs. Pleasure

1.     A Preference for enhancing life and experiencing pleasure or for preserving life and avoiding pain

IV. Millonís Personality Theory and Koreans

A.   Escovarís (1997) extension of the Millonís theory was used to categorize Korean culture on 2 of the 3 bipolar dimensions

1.     Self-other

2.     Passive-active

B.    Hypotheses

1.     A collectivist orientation is reflected in the personality profiles of Koreans

2.     The Korean personality profile will reflect a passive orientation

V. Method

A.   Participants

1.                             147 students from a major university in Seoul, Korea

B.    Procedures

C.   Measure

D.   Independent Variable

VI. Results

A.   The results support the first hypothesis, but not the second

VII. Discussion

A.   Implications, Future studies

B.    Limitations/Problems with the study