Can the Personality Assessment Inventory Predict Treatment Behavior in Inmates?

The Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) is a questionnaire used to predict treatment outcomes and is self-administered. For substance use offenders in the criminal justice system, predicting the behavior during treatment and the outcome of treatment is a vital aspect of rehabilitation. “Additionally, several other PAI scales, such as Antisocial Features (ANT), Borderline Features (BOR), Aggression (AGG), and Drug Problems (DRG), assess domains of psychopathology and behavior problems that might disrupt the course and ultimate outcome of treatment for substance abusing offenders,” said Melissa S. Magyar of Texas A&M University, lead author of a recent study measuring the effectiveness of the PAI for rehabilitation purposes in incarcerated substance users. She added that gauging externalizing and internalizing behaviors is another critical part of forecasting treatment effectiveness and should be considered when selecting a tool for evaluation.

The 331 male participants were part of a larger personality disorder study and were all undergoing drug treatment programs while incarcerated or through a residential facility. The men were between the ages of 18 and 46 years old and received treatment for six months. The researchers used the PAI to evaluate motivation, interpersonal style and psychopathology, among other character traits, to predict the progress of the offenders throughout the treatment process. “Certain key findings were generally encouraging, particularly for the AGG scale and the interpersonal style scales,” said the team, referring to the fact that the Aggression Scale revealed the most consistent and accurate predictions. They added that the externalizing scale did forecast behaviors associated with externalization, such as noncompliance, aggression, negative perception of progress and overall unruliness. “Our results suggest that the PAI—particularly the AGG scale—helps to identify individuals who are relatively more likely to misbehave in treatment and/or are less likely to complete treatment.” Magyar added, “Still, individuals with high AGG scores may have been significantly less aggressive in these treatment programs than they would have been outside of them, and they also may be as likely as anyone else to benefit from treatment by showing reduced risk for reoffending.”

Magyar, M. S., Edens, J. F., Lilienfeld, S. O., Douglas, K. S., Poythress, N. G., Jr., & Skeem, J. L. (2011, September 19). Using the Personality Assessment Inventory to Predict Male Offenders’ Conduct During and Progression Through Substance Abuse Treatment. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025359

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Shawn


    October 9th, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    Yes,people different differently to the same treatment and if we are able to see or know how one might react to a treatment beforehand then we can fine-tune it for the individual.It would then have a better effect than just a generic treatment.But it is not all too easy to predict this either and newer techniques for the same are always good.

  • Amy


    October 10th, 2011 at 4:15 AM

    There is some concern for me that we are using these kinds of “predictors” for behavior and this is not always such an indicator of how well someone is or is not going to do in treatment. Yes they can give you an idea of how successful someone could be, but it does not have to be the nd all and be all and should not be treated that way.

  • callum f

    callum f

    October 10th, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    Well,although it is good thinking and is in fact great on paper,how effective or useful will this be in real life? Most of these drug ‘offenders’ are there in deaddiction because they are forced to be there by the court. And if a person doesn’t really intend on it then no treatment or therapy can work.

    Now,can we not do the questionnaire and save a few trees?

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.