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People have long struggled to understand personality and numerous theories have been developed to explain how personality develops and how it influences behavior.

One such theory was proposed by a psychologist named Raymond Cattell. He created a taxonomy of 16 different personality traits that could be used to describe and explain individual differences between people's personalities.

It is used for career counseling in education and vocational guidance. In business, it is used in personnel selection, especially for choosing managers. It is also used in clinical diagnosis and to plan therapy by assessing anxiety, adjustment, and behavioral problems. Born in , Cattell witnessed the advent of many 20th-century inventions such as electricity, telephones, cars, and airplanes. He was inspired by these innovations and was eager to apply the scientific methods used to make such discoveries to the human mind and personality.

Personality, he believed, was not just some unknowable and untestable mystery. It was something that could be studied and organized. Through scientific study, human characteristics and behaviors could then be predicted based on underlying personality traits.

Cattell had worked with psychologist Charles Spearman, who was known for his pioneering work in statistics. Cattell would later use the factor analysis techniques developed by Spearman to create his own personality taxonomy. Psychologists have long debated exactly how personality should be defined and described. One of these key ideas is known as the trait theory of personality.

According to trait theory, human personality is composed of a number of broad traits or dispositions. Some of the earliest of these trait theories attempted to describe every single trait that might possibly exist. For example, psychologist Gordon Allport identified more than 4, words in the English language that could be used to describe personality traits. While this approach was good at identifying different types of traits, it is unwieldy and difficult to infer meaning.

Many of these traits, for example, are highly similar, making it difficult to distinguish some traits from others. Such ambiguity also makes it difficult to study these personality traits. Later, Raymond Cattell analyzed this list and whittled it down to characteristics, mostly by eliminating terms that were redundant or uncommon.

He was then able to use a statistical technique known as factor analysis to identify traits that are related to one another. Factor analysis can be used to look at enormous amounts of data in order to look for trends and to see which elements are the most influential or important. By using this method, he was able to whittle his list to 16 key personality factors. According to Cattell, there is a continuum of personality traits. In other words, each person contains all of these 16 traits to a certain degree, but they might be high in some traits and low in others.

While all people have some degree of abstractedness, for example, some people might be very imaginative while others are very practical. The following personality trait list describes some of the descriptive terms used for each of the 16 personality dimensions described by Cattell. Cattell also developed an assessment based on these 16 personality factors. The test is composed of forced-choice questions in which the respondent must choose one of three different alternatives.

Personality traits are then represented by a range and the individual's score falls somewhere on the continuum between highest and lowest extremes. The pencil and paper version of the test takes around 35 to 50 minutes to complete, while the computer version of the questionnaire takes around 30 minutes. Once complete, the scores can be interpreted using a number of different systems, depending upon why the test is being used. Some interpretive reports take a clinical approach looking at personality, while others are more focused on topics such as career selection, teamwork development, and leadership potential.

A number of studies have supported the test's validity, including its use in career development and personality assessment.

The test is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or medical diagnosis. Talk to a mental health provider or career testing service to have a professional administer the test and interpret your results. Ever wonder what your personality type means? Sign up to find out more in our Healthy Mind newsletter. The sixteen personality factor questionnaire 16PF.

More in Theories. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign Up. What are your concerns? Article Sources. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

In Boyle GJ. Related Articles. Life and Career of Psychologist Raymond Cattell. How Do Personality Tests Work? What Are the Big 5 Personality Traits? What Are the 4 Perspectives on Personality? Verywell Mind uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience.

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Cattell , Maurice Tatsuoka and Herbert Eber. The 16PF provides a measure of normal personality and can also be used by psychologists, and other mental health professionals, as a clinical instrument to help diagnose psychiatric disorders , and help with prognosis and therapy planning. Thus, the 16PF instrument provides clinicians with a normal-range measurement of anxiety , adjustment, emotional stability and behavioral problems. Clinicians can use 16PF results to identify effective strategies for establishing a working alliance, to develop a therapeutic plan, and to select effective therapeutic interventions or modes of treatment. Beginning in the s, Cattell used several techniques including the new statistical technique of common factor analysis applied to the English-language trait lexicon to elucidate the major underlying dimensions within the normal personality sphere.


The 16PF Personality Questionnaire

The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire 16PF is a multiple-choice, comprehensive measure of normal range personality found to be effective in a variety of settings where an in-depth assessment of the whole person is needed. Developed over several decades, Raymond Cattell began to work on it in the s when he shifted from the physical sciences to psychology and was shocked at the lack of empirical research available to enquire into the psychological nature of human beings. He wanted to develop a psychological test based on a list generated by Gordon Allport and H. Odbert, who had methodically gone through two comprehensive dictionaries to come up with around 18, words to describe personality. Allport and Odbert in a second round reduced their list to adjectives which they believed described observable, permanent personality traits. Cattell got hold of the list, added some terms known from psychological research, and eliminated synonyms, reducing the total to He used the then-new techniques of factor analysis combined with emergent computer technology to discover and measure the fundamental traits of human personality Wikipedia, d; Cattell and Mead,

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