The Relationship between Feigned Psychiatric Symptoms and Feigned Lack of Legal Knowledge among a Multi-Site Sample of Forensic Inpatients

Emily D. Gottfried, Michael J Vitacco, Jennifer A. Steadham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The accurate assessment of feigning is a cornerstone of forensic evaluations. This study examined two feigning strategies defendants may use for the purpose of being found not competent to stand to trial: feigning psychiatric symptoms and feigning lack of legal knowledge. Participants included 203 forensic inpatients undergoing competency to stand trial assessments at two state hospitals. Each participant was administered the Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test and the Inventory of Legal Knowledge. Results indicated that there was a significant relationship between these two types of feigning (manual cut scores: χ2 (1, 203) = 23.02, p <.001) and the presence of one feigning strategy increased his or her risk for engaging in the other feigning strategy (e.g., using the manual cut scores, participants shown to be feigning psychiatric symptoms were 2.23 times more likely to feign lack of legal knowledge than those not feigning psychiatric symptoms). This article provides evidence of an increased risk of defendants employing a second feigning strategy when it is determined they are already using one strategy. These results encourage forensic evaluators to be cognizant of the nature of feigning and various strategies employed by individuals undergoing evaluations of competency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Forensic Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017



  • ILK
  • M-FAST
  • Psychiatric feigning
  • feigning lack of legal knowledge
  • malingering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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