Personality and Obese Body Mass Index

  • Michael Pickren Valenti Hawaii School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Hawaii
  • Michael M. Omizo Hawaii School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Hawaii
  • Lewis Mehl-Madrona Hawaii School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Hawaii


This study investigated the relationship between obese range Body Mass Index (BMI) and personality variables as measured by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). The sample consisted of 129 obese participants referred for preoperative psychological evaluation. Each completed an MMPI-2 and clinical interview. Multilevel linear regression analysis was used to assess the contribution of personality variables to the prediction of variance in obese range BMI. Age, Scale 9 (Hypomania), and Scale 4 (Psychopathic Deviate) emerged as statistically significant predictors of BMI. Each predicted 7.8%, 6.4%, and 3.1% of the variance of participant BMI, respectively, with a combined prediction power of 17.3%. F-scores for the final, best fit model, with age on Level 1 and Scale 9 and Scale 4 on Level 2, were statistically significant (p<.0009). Results suggest severely obese bariatric surgery candidates may be more prone to impulsivity, irritability, and instability. However, limited predictive power of MMPI-2 scales indicates restricted clinical utility.


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