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Personality test of the 16 factors of Cattell (16 PF)

Personality test of the 16 factors of Cattell (16 PF)

June 24, 2021

Each one of us has his own way of being . We observe the world of determined in a way, we relate to others in concrete ways and, in general, we express a tendency to do certain things and to respond in more or less stable ways.

Put another way, and although it sounds redundant, each person has their own personality. This concept, which defines who and how we are, has been an object of classic study of psychology, having created numerous instruments of measurement to evaluate it known as personality tests.

Of all of them, the Factorial Personality Questionnaire or Test of the 16 Personality Factors , also known as 16PF, originally created by psychologist Raymond Cattell.


  • Related article: "Types of psychological tests: their functions and characteristics"

A brief introduction: what is personality?

As we mentioned earlier, Personality is a general pattern of behavior, interaction, coping modes and relationship and perception of the reality that each individual possesses. This general pattern is a stable and consistent element that is generated throughout the life of each person, especially forging from childhood to the beginning of adulthood through a combination of biopsychosocial elements (genetics, environment and experiences from each person).

The personality can vary in some aspect in response to situations and concrete life evolutions, but usually it is maintained throughout the life cycle, observing constant in most of the areas and through the different situations we live. This does not mean that specific aspects are unchangeable, but it requires a high level of effort and work, maintaining in general the set of characteristics that make up the personality.


The study of personality

The study of personality has had as main objectives to find and explain the main individual differences between subjects in relation to their behavior, based on the measurement of different traits. Based on these measurements, an assessment of the characteristics of the individuals can be made from the comparison with the population mean, contributing to make predictions about their own behavior and that of others and assess their adaptation to the environment .

But we must bear in mind that personality is not an easily identifiable objective element, but rather an abstract construct that is difficult to quantify. To develop instruments that measure personality, different types of criteria have had to be used, such as empirical or rational criteria.

One of the methods of construction of instruments for measuring personality is based on factorial criteria, in which the relationship between different characteristics is sought in order to establish groups of traits, which are known as personality factors. Taking into account this type of criteria, Raymond Cattell built in 1957 one of the most famous personality tests, the 16 PF .


Entering subject: 16 PF

The Personality Factor Questionnaire or 16 PF is one of the most well-known personality measurement instruments used throughout the young history of Psychology. Created as has already been said by Raymond Cattell based on factorial criteria, this evaluation instrument has as its main function to study and assess personality traits from various factors (sixteen main and five secondary or global in the latest version).

These factors are bipolar, that is, they go in a continuum that goes from one end of the trait to the other, situating the score of the person evaluated at some point of the continuum.

To make it easier to understand: If one of the factors is dominance, one of the poles reflects an authoritarian, competitive and independent person while the other would indicate a submissive, conformist and dependent person, with most of the population in an intermediate situation.

Internal organization of the personality test

This personality test is organized from a total of 185 closed questions with three response options, being one of the indicative options that is not known to answer, with the exception of some questions posed as problem solving to assess intelligence . As it is based on questions and does not require very advanced technologies to produce a result, It has been widely used in companies and all kinds of organizations at the time of selecting the personnel that can become part of the team or receive a promotion.

The score obtained from the 16 PF is calculated from templates, which take into account the value of each of the items in the prediction of the factor that corresponds to them, having between about ten and fourteen per factor, and passing said direct score to baremated decatypes.

The 16 PF consists of different types of scales . In its fifth version there are three scales used to detect response styles, being able to assess the sincerity and verifiability of the data obtained, four global or secondary scales and finally sixteen personality factors that are valued in this personality test. .

Population in which to apply it

The type of population for which the 16 PF is thought is located in those subjects from sixteen years of age, needing a level of understanding similar to that of a student of the second year of ESO to be able to do it correctly. This is necessary, among other things, to ensure that everyone has sufficient skills to Understand the basic operation of the test and how to apply it .

In spite of this, there are different variants of this personality test, some versions being more aimed at people with difficulties with reading or sociocultural problems.

Objectives and application

The 16PF is designed to do an analysis of the features and response styles of the person to evaluate, being able to obtain with his interpretation a basic profile of the personality of the subject.

This personality test is very useful, being frequently applied in areas such as research, psychology of organizations and human resources and clinical psychology. However, the idea of ​​this questionnaire is to evaluate typical personality, not being focused on the analysis of psychopathology (although through its observation could be seen features that tend some anomaly, it is not their goal and is not prepared for the diagnosis of disorders).

Interpret the 16 PF

When analyzing the results, the general steps are to observe the response styles first to observe if the test results are reliable, for later assess global dimensions and extreme decatypes , which serve as a general idea of ​​the patient's situation and profile when extracted from the scores of the other scales and finally analyze and interpret the score of each of the 16 primary scales, with the help of the test itself and external guides.

The scales and factors of the 16 PF

These are the different scales that make up the 16 PF:

1. Response style scales

The main function of the response style scales is to ensure the validity and reliability of the data collected about the patient, observing if they answer correctly and sincerely or if there are tendencies that distort the data and therefore the analysis of the personality.

2. Manipulation of the image

This scale is responsible for assessing whether the answers given to the questions are sincere or move by social desirability, either to give a good image or to appear worse than what is, with secondary objectives.

3. Aquiescence

In this scale, the tendency to always answer questions positively is valued, with something that could indicate lack of sincerity that hinders the correct analysis of the situation.

4. Infrequency index

It is used to detect infrequent responses. It may be due to the fact that the evaluated person answers randomly, although each answer and its correspondence with the personality test set should be analyzed.

The 16 main factors

The main or first order factors reflect in a broad and specific way the different personality traits. They are the following.

A: Affectivity: Schizotymy (little affectivity) vs Cyclothymia (high affectivity)

This factor values ​​emotional expressivity . High score on this scale implies being affectionate and expressing one's emotions, being pleasant to bond with others and having some facility for it. On the other hand, scoring low would bring the personality closer to the schizophrenic pole, being not very affective, with poor expressiveness and a high level of rigidity and tendency to isolation.

B: Reasoning: High Intelligence vs. Low Intelligence

Although this factor is more linked to intelligence than to personality, can not be ignored that having more or less intellectual capacity affects the way we see the world and act on it .

A high score would make someone think with ease to learn, understand and understand the abstract and adapt to the circumstances. Scoring low implies a lower ability to face the environment, having greater rigidity and fewer response options and it is difficult to understand the world.

C: Stability: Strength of Self vs. Weakness of the Self

This factor refers mainly to the stability of the person . It is considered that a person who scores high has a tendency to be able to maintain composure and have a stable emotionality. A low score would reflect neuroticism, lability and little emotional control.

D: Dominance: Dominance vs. Submission

The dominance factor refers to the ability to be independent . High score means that the pattern of behavior is competitive, independent and even authoritarian, while low scores indicate submission and conformism.

E: Impulsivity: Surgency (impulsivity) vs Desurgency (inhibition)

Indicates the motivational capacity and the desire to do things , as well as the ability to self-control. A person who scores high will be sociable, motivated, impetuous and impulsive, while people with low scores will tend to be worried, prudent and anxious.

F: Group conformity: Strong Superego vs. Weak Superego

It refers to the ability of self-control, decision and assessment of others . A person who scores high will be determined, stable, committed and will value others but not be swept away by them. Low scores can indicate frivolity, negligence and immaturity,

G: Daring: Parmia (daring) vs. Trectia (shyness)

It is about the ability to transform thoughts and wills into acts . High punctuation implies daring and spontaneity, while low scores indicate inhibition and shyness that prevents doing things.

H: Sensitivity: Premsia (sensitivity) vs Harria (hardness)

This factor indicates the presence of sensitivity in the person . High score suggests an emotional person, kind and shy, labile. Low scores indicate emotional hardness, pragmatism and little ability to be excited.

I: Suspiciousness: Alexia (confidence) vs. Protension (distrust)

The level of trust or distrust of others . People who score high are distrustful of the intentions of others, while low scores reflect interest and trust towards others, as well as the ability to bond.

J: Imagination: Praxemia (pragmatism) vs Autia (imagination)

The ability to abstract . Having a high score refers to the ability to be eccentric and unconventional, imaginative. To score low in this aspect reflects a personality centered on reality, with little artistic and conventional interest.

K: Cunning: Subtlety vs. Ingenuity

Ability to analyze reality comprehensively and observe the different options and perspectives . People who score high have the ability to detect and analyze both reality and themselves, while those with low scores are more naive, credulous and somewhat more awkward in their relationships.

L: Guilt: Consciousness vs. Imperturbability

It refers to the ability to take responsibility for things . High scores indicate apprehension and ease to blame. Low scores reflect safety and serenity.

Q1: Rebellion: Radicalism vs Conservatism

This 16 PF scale indicates the capacity for open-mindedness or respect for traditional ways of doing . High score indicates interest in the intellectual and mental openness. Low scores indicate conservatism, traditionality and respect.

Q2: Self-sufficiency: Self-sufficiency vs. Dependency

It reflects the ability to make one's own decisions , scoring these people high on the scale, or the preference for making decisions agreed by the group and depending on other people, being in this case the lowest score.

Q3: Self-control: Self-esteem vs. Indifference

It involves measuring emotional and behavioral control . High score suggests the presence of controlled personality, while a low score reflects nonchalance

Q4: Tension: Tension vs. Tranquility

It refers to the level of anxiety of the person . Nervous and irritable individuals would score high while quiet people would have a lower score

Second order or global scales

The second order scales are obtained from the analysis of the sixteen main factors, serving as a general summary of the patient's situation, although providing more general and less precise information than the detailed analysis of each scale.

QS1: Introversion and extraversion

People with ease to relate have a high score in this secondary factor, being extraverted. In contrast, introverts or people who tend to social inhibition tend to have a low score.

QS2: Anxiety-Tranquility

Serenity and safety are common characteristics in people who score low on this scale. On the other hand, anxious and insecure people tend to have a high score on this scale.

QS3: Susceptibility-Tenacity

People who worry, become frustrated or discouraged easily tend to score low, regardless of their level of kindness. They are also usually analytical. On the other hand, a high score indicates decision capacity and stability, but also a lower level of risk assessment.

QS4: Dependence-Independence

It reflects in its high scores independence, assertiveness, disinhibition and radicalism, while if it is scored low it indicates insecurity, humility, shyness and moralism.

Bibliographic references:

  • Cattell, R.B .; Cattell, A, K., Cattell, H.E.P. (nineteen ninety five). 16 PF-5. Personality Factorial Questionnaire. TEA editions.
  • Cohen, R.J. & Swerdlik, M.E. (2002). Psychological tests and evaluation. McGraw Hill. Madrid
  • Karson, M., Karson, S., & O'Dell, J. (2002). 16PF-5. A guide for its interpretation in clinical practice. Madrid: TEA editions
  • Schuerger, J. M. (2009). The 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire: 16PF. In C. E. Watkins, Jr., and V. L. Campbell (Eds.), "Testing and Assessment in Counseling Practice" (pp. 67-99). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Personality (व्यक्तित्व क्या है?) & Raymond Bernard Cattell theory (June 2021).


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