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2. Know Yourself - Different Types of Test Behavior
4. Eysenck Type Personality Test

3. Cattell 16PF Scales

A widely used personality test is the Cattell 16PF Scales (16 Personality Factors), and the tests developed from this.

Raymond Cattell began with a list of more than 18,000 words that described personality. He reduced this list manually to about 4,500 words and statements. Using factor analysis, he reduced further the list and found 16 "Personality Features" (PF), which describe human personality.

Raymond Cattell
Raymond Cattell 1905-1998

On this basis, Cattell produced a standardized test that can be used to assess people's personality according to these 16 factors.

Factor analysis is a kind of correlation analysis with multiple variables. It measures the degree to which two variables are related by having a tendency to increase or decrease together. For example, if "frequency of exercise" and "blood pressure level" were measured on a large group of people, then inter-correlating these two variables would indicate the degree to which "exercise" and "blood pressure" are related to each other.

Factors which correlate, will appear as "clusters". Words and statements that are different, but still covers the same meaning, are likely to have a close correlation and therefore will show up in the same cluster, and thus can then be reduced to a single statement.

Cattell defined personality as "that which permits a prediction of, what a person will do in a given situation."

16PF Group profiles
16PF Group profiles for pilots, artists and authors.

When the test is given to groups of people from same profession, group profiles can emerge. For example, writers tend to be imaginative, while pilots are unsentimental, and artists are experimenting and thinking abstract.

Cattell had basicly an engineering and mathematical approach to personality. He developed his test independently of the psychiatric hospitals. This distinguishes the 16PF test from the Eysenck, Rorschach and MMPI tests. Cattell test is from the beginning targeting normal persons, and it is not like the others designed to detect pathological mental deviations. One can say that it has a somewhat healthier approach to personality.

In the Cattell 16PF Scales test the test person answers hundreds of questions that scores on the originally 16 different personality traits, which are:

Cool and reserved versus Warm and easy-going
Concrete thinking versus Abstract thinking
Reactive emotionally versus Emotionally stable
Submissive versus Dominant
Factual and serious versus Enthusiastic
Opportunistic versus Dutiful
Shy versus Socially bold
Unsentimental versus Soft hearted
Trusting versus Suspicious
Practical versus Imaginative
Forthright versus Private
Confident versus Insecure
Conservative versus Experimental
Group-oriented versus Self sufficient
Undisciplined versus Self-disciplined
Relaxed versus Tense
Raymond Cattell then again used factor analysis on his 16 personality traits, and thus reduced them to the five second-order personality traits:

      Extraversion.
      Anxiety.
      Tough-mindedness.
      Independence.
      Self-control.

However, a complete personality test is very extensive. Therefore most companies prefer a simpler version, which gives them information about the personality feautures that they want to know something about:

      Extraversion - Introversion.
      Level of anxiety.
      Level of Tough-mindedness/Self-confidence.

Extraversion - Introversion

Very few have a complete extravert or complete introvert personality. Most are somewhere in between. Persons are characterized on a scale between two extremes.

Highly extraverted persons are party lions, who get everything from others, attitudes, opinions as well as knowledge. They have a strong need for social contact all the time. They do not have any independent thoughts. As soon as they are alone they will immediately start to feel bored.

extraverted person
Extraverted person.

Extraverted people find it hard to concentrate on detailed work. They feel that the world goes past them, while they sit messing in these unimportant details.

Extraverted persons will react to stress by turning aggressive. One can say they try to solve the problems socially.

It goes without saying that many actors and politicians are very outgoing personalities, who are really good at social interaction. They simply can not stay away from the limelight.

Highly introverted people want to be left in peace to take care of their own projects and to think their own thoughts. It's not that they do not like social contact. Humans are social beings, and the introverted personalities are too. But they simply do not have the same desperate need for constant social interaction as the extraverts have.

The famous Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, was very introverted. It is said that when he gave lectures at the university, he could completely forget the students' existence. Now and then he stood with his back against the auditorium facing the blackboard and muttered something for himself, while he scratched some equations on the blackboard, which the students could not see.

Introvert person
Introverted person.

Introverted persons have no problems with detailed work. They feel that detailed work is the first trench defence line against the cruel and merciless reality with its ruthless laws of nature.

Unlike extraverts, they will react to stress by withdrawing into themselves. They will, so to speak, try to solve problems individually. They will be more silent and absent-minded professor-like.

It is important not to confuse introversion with anxiety.

Introverted persons have their own inner strength, because they have thought things through. They can withstand stress longer than the very extraverted persons.

One must of course score on introversion or extraversion depending on the position in question.

It is obvious that if you go for a job as a salesman, then you must score well on extraverted, and if you go for a position as a caseworker in an IT development firm, you must score on introverted.

If you apply for a career position in one of the major international companies, it is wise to score well on extraversion. In this kind of firms extraversion is almost synonymous with leadership potential. They prefer handsome young men, who give a good experience, when they talk to them; it gives a sense of a streamlined modern organization.

Level of Anxiety

Most people know the feeling of anxiety and nervousness in an exam situation.

The problem of overly anxious people is that they feel that they are in exam all the time. And not only that. They do not know what they are examined in. They feel they have lost track of their life.

A film poster for Kafkas process by Orson Welles
A film poster for Kafka's The Process by Orson Welles - spanish version.

In Kafka's novel "The Process" the main character Josef K is summoned for a court, which he never had heard about before. He is never told what he is charged for. He's just being informed that it is a very serious matter. He ends up realizing that there must be something about it, although he did not find out what was his crime. Eventually he is executed by two polite gentlemen dressed in black suits.

It must be something like that overly anxious people feel.

Woody Allen has represented the neurotic and overly anxious personality on film. He tries desperately to orientate himself in life and argue his way out of any resposibility.

Companies and human resources consultants will make considerable efforts to weed out candidates with high level of anxiety. It is one of the main purposes of a personality test.

It would be a disaster for a human resources company, if they by mistake should recommend an applicant who later shows up to have such personality problems. It would get about throughout the industry and among the consumers. Therefore, they will properly not take any chances in this regard. If there is any suspected high levels of anxiety, they will point on another candidate, regardless of the qualifications of the first applicant. We believe that the test report will be filed for years.

excessive anxiety
Excessive anxiety.

It is very important for candidates that they are able to identify statements that will score on excessive anxiety and as good as possible to avoid them.

Statements that scores on anxiety will be something with a certain flight from responsibility and the feeling that all the others in reality is much better than yourself.

A statement, that the reason for poor grades were nervousness, or that the teacher did not like you, will most likely score on anxiety.

A statement, that you have not received a fair treatment in connection with this and that, will certainly score on excessive anxiety.

A football coach can say, that it was not fair that his team lost the match, as they had the ball most of the time.

But the rules of football says loudly and clearly, that the team, that scores the most goals, is the winner. It says nothing about the nature of the artistic presentation. And this the trainer knew in advance.

Just as the ball passes unpredictably back and forth on the field, when the two teams of lousy players meet each other, in the same way it can be quite random, who are employed and who is promoted in companies. Leaders employ and promote those, they like, and those, they believe that their own chief executives best can accept.

Being able to identify statements, that scores on anxiety may create a more favorable personality test and thus influence the delicate difference between success and failure in the chaotic career game.

Concerning anxiety see also: "2. Know Yourself - Different Types of Test Behavior" (internal link above).

Level of Self-confidence

A tough-minded person is a self confident person. It is not an either or. It can be described as a continous scale from totally dominating to totally self-doubting.

Adolf Hitler and Mohammed must be assumed to have been one hundred percent dominant persons. They received a revelation early in their life and thereafter they had patent on truth. They were completely sure that they were always right.

A very self confident young person
A very self confident young business man.

Completely dominating people are impervious to any form of logic, reasoning or empirical data. They may have heard about arguments and logic - in theory, but basically they do not know, what it is good for. They already know the truth, why make it so complicated?

Mohammed did not have the slightest doubt, that the whole world in the very end would profess to his beliefs. Adolf did not have a shred of doubt that he would win. It was their extreme self-confidence, which gave them their impressive mental power over their followers.

Completely dominating persons spell binds their many supporters thanks to their intense ardent beliefs. They have only little use for actual arguments.

You will often see a kind of symbiosis between a highly dominant type and a large group of anxious and less self-confident persons. They need each other. The anxious persons feel that the dominant's unshakable certainty in all matters, gives them a fixed point in life, and the dominant needs to be admired and applauded. This short-circuits the organization, and analytical and constructive initiatives are suppressed.

Highly dominant types can be found everywhere. Adolf and Mohammed had some limited success, but it is not the rule. They see the light, seize the power in their union, parish, faculty, company or nation, and in sovereign contempt for the cruel merciless reality with its ruthless laws of nature, they lead their devoted followers and their entire organizations towards stagnation and defeat.

A self confident and a less self-confident person got senseless drunk together. They went to a bar, threw off all their clothes and danced naked on the tables singing dirty songs.

The next day they could not remember anything. When the worst headache was gone, they met some of their friends, who told them about the evening's events.

The self confident person gave a tough smile and shook his head. "My goodness. We were really that drunk?". Together with the night's spectators, he could laugh about the details.

The less self confident nude dancer turned glowing red in his face, when he realized, what he had done. He turned around and ran back to his room. He locked his door from inside, and did not come out the next several days.

A self confident person do not think that he has any personal secrets that the others may not know about. This means apart from password and this kind of stuff. He feels that he's actually very nice and clever and intelligent and everything. It can not hurt to show it a little. Well, he had really danced naked on the tables in a bar. I have better not do too often, he will think.

Highly self-confident people do not think there is any contradiction between what they think about themselves and what others think about them. They do not mind that others are interested in them them.

A less self confident person thinks that he has his own ways and quirks and his own thoughts. He fears that if others knew them, they would not accept him.

Most companies are interested in candidates, who have the confidence to take action as necessary. They must be able to deliver a speech and in all to represent the company in a dignified manner. But they are often afraid that very dominant persons will make troubles and irritate the customers.

Therefore, one should score of self-confidence, but with caution.

Typical Questions in a 16PF Type Personality Test

1.
Do you like to talk to strangers?

It is easy to see that a yes scores on extraversion, and a no scores on introversion.

2.
Do you consider yourself to be shy?

A yes scores evidently on low self-confidence and introverted, and a no scores on self confidence and extraverted.

3.
Do you like parties?

It is not hard to realize that a yes scores on extraverted and a no on introverted.

4.
Do you feel bad about meeting new people?

Note that this question is a mirror of questions 1. It is a control question in order to detect cheaters. If you answered yes to question 1, you must necessarily say no to this one.

5.
Do you easily get bored?

Of course, a yes scores on extraverted and a no on introverted.

6.
Do you like detailed work?

Obvious, yes scores on introverted and no on extraverted?

7.
Do you find it easy to concentrate on such work as proofreading?

A yes scores on introverted and a no on extraverted.

8.
Are you a perfectionist?

A candidate in his right mind can not answer yes to something like this. Thus you would tell that you are a person that can never complete your tasks. It is not your fault, because you're a perfectionist. It would surely score high on anxiety! Psychologists believe that pronounced perfectionism is caused by some kind of a basic sense of inferiority.

Of course we all would like to do our job properly. So if the question about perfection occurs in connection with a scale, for example from 1 to 5, one can choose 1 or max. 2 if the position in question is a sort of caseworker or specialist.

9.
Do you find that you often worry about little things?

Can it be clearer? A yes will surely score on eccessive anxiety. Answer no.

10.
Have you ever spoken untrue?

How can they ask? Everybody lies a little now and then.

11.
Do your friends sometimes say about you that you are a somewhat self-important person?

Real friends do not speak so badly of us. But if we want score on self confidence, we will have to answer yes.

If you go for a career position in a major international company, it also seems to be an advantage.

12.
Would you wish that you were more persuasive?

A yes scores certainly on less self confident.

13.
Do you find it hard to make you feel embarrassed?

Highly self-conscious people will not get embarrassed. No matter what they do or say, then it is just right. A yes scores surely on self confidence.

14.
Are you always open and honest about your feelings?

Imagine that you are visiting a customer and that you basically feel that he is an overweight windbag. Would you then be open and honest about your feelings? You probably would not.

Imagine that you join a party together with your wife. One of the other female guests has a low-cut that exposes a good part of her rather big attributes. It arouses some of your deeper animal emotions. Would you then be open and honest about your feelings? Well, it is not wise.

We must assume that if the issue is on: "Are you always open and honest .." then it is a test question, which should detect cheaters, and we should answer no.

But if the question is, whether you in general are open and honest about your feelings, you can answer yes and thereby score on self confidence.

15.
Do you think that most people are more aggressive and self-confident than you are?

It is quite clear that a yes scores on less self confident and a no scores on self confident.

16.
A type of question is, if our friends or colleagues believe that you belong to this and type, followed by some options. Later there may come a question whether you believe you are of this and that type, then follows the same choices worded a little differently and in a different order.

Here we must remember that self-confident persons feel no real difference between, what their friends think, and what they think themselves. Less self-confident persons, however, have secrets.

Other Five Factor Models

Big Five model af personlighed Big Five model of Personality

Many human resources consultants felt that Cattell's sixteen factors were too many. Tests became too cumbersome and too costly. On the other hand, Eysenck's three factors were too few, and did not offer descriptions enough, they thought. Therefore, Cattell's five second-order personality features were further developed into various other five factor models, of which "Big Five" is the most well known.

The five traits in Costa and McCrae' Big Five model are:

1. Openness to experience.
2. Conscientiousness.
3. Extraversion.
4. Agreeableness.
5. Neuroticism.

Extraversion and neuroticism in the Big Five are similar to Eysenck's traits of the same name. However, what Eysenck called the trait of psychoticism corresponds to two traits in the Big Five model, namely conscientiousness and agreeableness. Cattel's anxiety is rather close to Eysenck's and Big Five's neuroticism.
Try an online Cattell-16PF personlighedstest fra "Similar Minds", udfyld "gender" og klik "next".

On the page: Personality Tests - Great Ideas in Personality are several tests based on the 5-factor model or "The Big Five", which was developed from "Cattell 16PF" - Scroll down to "Five-Factor Model". On this page is also a lot of of materials on personality theory.

A test based on Big Five: What is your personality type? - Quendom The land of test

On "personality Test Center" is: The IPIP-NEO test - Personality Test Center which is another five faktor model.

See a thorough decription of The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) (pdf) by Heather E.P. Cattell and Alan D. Mead.

In the article Faking your Type to "pass" a personality test - Seattle Times by Kyung M. Song, is discussed for and against faking. Some, especially the consultants, who are economically dependent on the tests, believe that it is not possible to "fake" their tests. But what they do not know, they can not feel sorry for. Only the culprit knows the perfect crime.


This article is a contribution to the debate on personality tests and Dalum Hjallese Debate Club assumes no liability for a use of the article in real life.
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