Test of 16 Cattell Personality Factors: what it measures

Test of 16 Cattell Personality Factors: what it measures

Personality Test 16 factors of Cattell

Many theorists have tried to describe the functioning of personality and have developed numerous theories about how it develops and how it influences behavior. One of these theories was proposed by a psychologist Raymond Cattell. He created the theory of 16 Personality Traits to describe and explain the individual differences between the personalities of individuals.

Personality, in his opinion, was something that could be studied and organized. Through a scientific study on human characteristics and behaviors, he developed a description of the underlying personality traits.

Cattell had worked with him psychologist Charles Spearman, who was known for his pioneering work in statistics. This is how Cattell would later use the analysis techniques developed by Spearman to create his own personality theory.


  • 1 Cattell's 16 PF
  • 2 Basic factors
  • 3 Second order factors

Cattell's 16 PF

According to Trait Theory, the human personality is composed of a series of general features or dispositions. Some of the first of these trait theories tried to describe each trait that could possibly exist.

According Cattell, in each person there is a continuum in personality traits. In other words, each person contains all these 16 traits to some degree, but may be higher in some traits and lower in others. For example, although all people have a certain level of abstraction, some can be very imaginative, while others are very practical.

The test developed by Cattel called 16PF measures 16 basic factors which are identified as follows: A, B, C, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, Q1, Q2, Q3, & Q4; plus five second order factors. These factors are ordered according to their impact on behavior in general, with Factor A being the most influential.

Basic factors

Factor A (Affectivity): assesses the degree to which the person makes contact with other individuals. People who get high scores (A +) have a greater disposition towards interpersonal relationships, affection, tend to be more expressive, willing to cooperate, affectionate, generous, active, and not afraid of criticism. They enjoy jobs that are based on social interaction such as sales, social work or teaching. Those who score low (A-) tend to be more reserved, formal, cold and distant. They prefer to work alone, are more rigid and can be quite critical and even rude.

Factor B (Reasoning): measures intellectual capacity as predominant abstract thinking or concrete thinking, taking into account that the abstract is characteristic of a person of greater intelligence and the concrete of a lesser intelligence. A person with high scores (B +) captures, analyzes and understands ideas or concepts more easily. Those who get low scores (B-) tend to interpret most things in a more literal and concrete way. They show a greater difficulty in understanding concepts and for learning in general.

Factor C (Stability): assesses the emotional stability of the person and the way he adapts to the environment around him. High scores (C +) are characteristic of realistic, mature individuals, with high ego strength and emotionally stable. Those who get low scores (C-) tend to be people who get frustrated easily, are quickly affected by feelings and when they don't get what they want, reality tends to escape and their ego strength is low. May suffer neuroticism, all kinds of phobias, psychosomatic disorders Y sleeping problems.

Factor E (Dominance): measures the degree of dominance or submission that an individual presents in their social relationships. High scores (E +) indicate that the person is very dominant. This type of person seeks to be in positions of power to control others. They are usually competitive, aggressive and very confident. People who get low scores (E-) tend to be submissive, passive, humble, conformist and docile. They get carried away easily by others and avoid conflicts in their interpersonal relationships, striving to please also seek the approval of others.

F factor (Impulsivity): Evaluate the level of enthusiasm in social contexts. People with high scores (F +) tend to be highly spontaneous, impulsive, expressive and cheerful. Low scores (F-) are characteristics of prudent, serious, introspective and, in general, pessimistic people.

G Factor (Group Compliance): measures acceptance of moral values. According to the theory of Freud, the superego is explored. High scores in this factor (G +) are typical of moralistic, responsible and conscientious people, who tend to always act according to the rules. Those who get low scores (G-) are people who do not like to behave according to the norms, nor do they completely submit to the customs of society or their culture.

H factor (Dare): evaluates the reactivity of the nervous system according to the dominance of sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. People who score high on this factor (H +) are dominated by the parasympathetic system. They are able to function under high levels of stress, love to take risks and are great adventurers. Low scores on this factor (H-) are characteristic of people under the domain of the sympathetic system. They are not attracted to risk or adventure, they look for security, everything predictable and stable.

Factor I (Sensitivity): measures the predominance of feelings over rational thinking. Those who get high scores (I +) are dominated by their feelings. They tend to be very emotional, have great sensitivity and are sometimes unrealistic. Those who get low scores (I-) have a rational thought, they are very practical, realistic, responsible and independent. They can be quite cynical and rude.

L Factor (Suspicion): assesses the level of trust or distrust that an individual has towards others. Those who score high (L +) tend to distrust others, being able to present, in extreme cases, a behavior paranoid. For this reason, the interpersonal relationships of the L + are generally problematic, deteriorating due to the excess of jealousy, suspicions and skepticism of these individuals. People who get low scores (L-) are characterized by being very confident. They are people who adapt easily, care about their peers, are open, tolerant and very little competitive.

M factor (Imagination): measures the capacity of abstraction of the individual. People with high scores (M +) are characterized by intense internal life. These people easily immerse themselves in their thoughts, and are distracted from what is happening around them. They have a great imagination, they are very creative and unconventional. Those who score low (M-) are very realistic and practical people, they are interested in the concrete and the obvious, but they are unimaginative. In emergencies, they tend to remain calm and are able to resolve the situation.

Factor N (Cunning): assesses the ability to analyze reality in an exhaustive manner and describes to what extent people hide, showing only those traits that generate the responses they want from others. People who get high scores (N +) tend to be calculating, cold, refined, diplomatic and very socially aware. Those who score low (N-) are open, direct, genuine and sincere people who do not strive to impress others.

Factor O (Guilty): assesses the ability of a person to take responsibility for their actions. Explore the self esteem based on tendencies to experience guilt or insecurities. High scores (O +) are characteristic of suffering people, who tend to blame themselves for everything. They have very high personal expectations, worry too much, are insecure and often feel unaccepted. Those who score low (O-) have a very positive view of their person, are confident and are not likely to experience guilt.

Q1 Factor (Rebellion): measures the predisposition towards change and mental openness. High scores in (Q1 +) are more open and willing to change. They tend to be liberal and reject the traditional and conventional. People who offer low scores in (Q1-), are very conservative and traditional. They accept what is established without questioning it, they are not interested in analytical thinking and demonstrate a marked resistance to change.

Q2 Factor (Self-Sufficiency): measures the degree of dependence or personal independence. Those who get high scores on this factor (Q2 +) are eminently self-sufficient individuals, who know how to make decisions regardless of the opinions of others, prefer to be alone most of the time and do their things without asking others for help. The low scores in (Q2-) are typical of preferring to be in a group and usually make their decisions based on what others think or what society establishes. They need to feel that they belong to a group and that they are accepted and loved.

Q3 Factor (Self Control): measures emotional and behavioral self-control. People who get high scores (Q3 +) strive to show an ideal and socially accepted image. They tend to control their emotions, they are very self-conscious, compulsive and perfectionist. The (Q3-) do not strive to control themselves to match social ideals of behavior. These people lead a more relaxed and less stressful life than the Q3 +, but tend to be less successful and recognized.

Q4 Factor (Voltage): measures the level of tension or nervous anxiety of the subject. People who score high (Q4 +) experience extreme levels of nervous tension. They are impatient and are distinguished by their inability to remain inactive due to their high degree of nervousness. They are often easily frustrated, because their behavior results from an excess of impulses that are often expressed improperly. Those who score low on (Q4-) are characterized by the low presence of nervous tension. They usually lead a quiet and relaxed existence, governed by calm, patience, conformity and a high degree of general satisfaction.

Second order factors

From the combination of several interrelated factors arise the 16PF second order factors.

Second-order factors offer information for a broader understanding of personality, as a smaller number of general features describe it.

QS1 (Introversion vs. Extroversion). This factor arises from the combination of the primary factors A, F, H and Q2. People who score low on this factor are eminently introverts. They tend to be shy, inhibited, but self-sufficient. Those who get high scores are extroverts, socially uninhibited and have the ability to establish and maintain numerous interpersonal contacts.

QS2 (Anxiety vs. tranquility). It leaves the combination of the primary factors O, Q4, C, Q3, L and H, and measures the levels of anxiety of the person. People with low scores have a low level of anxiety and are characterized by being serene, realistic, emotionally stable and self-confident. High scores are typical of individuals with a high level of anxiety. They tend to be insecure, emotionally unstable, shy, tense and distrustful.

QS3 (Susceptibility vs. Tenacity). The third second order factor is based on the combination of the factors: I, M, A, Q1, F, E, & L. Those who get low scores are people with great emotional sensitivity and very influenced by their emotions. They are also imaginative, distracted, gentle and affectionate people towards others. They have artistic and cultural interests, and are liberal people open to new experiences. The subjects who score low on this factor are practical, independent, realistic, conservative, dominant, assertive, competitive and reserved. They maintain distances, are distrustful and tend to criticize others.

QS4 (Dependency vs. Independence). This fourth second order factor combines the factors E, H, Q1, L, O, N, G, Q2 and M. The low scores are typical of submissive, docile, shy, humble, conservative and insecure people, and depend entirely of the group they belong to. High scores are typical of independent people. They are self-sufficient, distrustful, aggressive, uninhibited and radical people who show no need to be socially accepted.

QS5 (High self control vs low self control). The fifth and final second order factor arises from the combination between the G and Q3 factors to measure the level of control of the person's superego. Those who get high scores people very self-controlled, persistent, conscientious, compulsive and tenacious. Those who get low scores have low control of their superego and easily carried away by their impulses and needs