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The Sixteen Personality Factor
Questionnaire (16PF)
Heather E.P. Cattell and Alan D. Mead
INTRODUCTION
The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire
(16PF) is a comprehensive measure of normalrange personality found to be effective in a
variety of settings where an in-depth assessment of the whole person is needed. The 16PF
traits, presented in Table 7.1, are the result of
years of factor-analytic research focused on
discovering the basic structural elements of
personality (Cattell, R.B., 1957, 1973).
In addition to discovering the sixteen
normal-range personality traits for which the
instrument is named, these researchers identified the five broad dimensions – a variant of
the ‘Big Five’ factors (Cattell, R.B., 1957,
1970). From the beginning, Cattell proposed
a multi-level, hierarchical structure of personality: the second-order global measures
describe personality at a broader, conceptual
level, while the more precise primary factors
reveal the fine details and nuances that make
each person unique, and are more powerful
in predicting actual behavior. In addition, this
factor-analytic structure includes a set of thirdorder factors, also discussed in this chapter.
Due to its scientific origins, the 16PF
Questionnaire has a long history of empirical
research and is embedded in a well-established
theory of individual differences. This questionnaire’s extensive body of research
stretches back over half a century, providing
evidence of its utility in clinical, counseling,
industrial-organizational, educational, and
research settings (Cattell, R.B. et al., 1970;
H.E.P. Cattell and Schuerger, 2003; Conn and
Rieke, 1994; Krug and Johns, 1990; Russell
and Karol, 2002). A conservative estimate of
16PF research since 1974 includes more than
2,000 publications (Hofer and Eber, 2002).
Most studies have found the 16PF to be
among the top five most commonly used
normal-range instruments in both research
and practice (Butcher and Rouse, 1996;
Piotrowski and Zalewski, 1993; Watkins et al.,
1995). The measure is also widely used internationally, and since its inception has been
adapted into over 35 languages worldwide.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE
16PF QUESTIONNAIRE
The history of the 16PF Questionnaire
spans almost the entire history of standardized
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Table 7.1
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THE SAGE HANDBOOK OF PERSONALITY THEORY AND ASSESSMENT
16PF Scale Names and Descriptors
Descriptors of Low Range
Reserved, Impersonal, Distant
Concrete, Lower Mental Capacity
Reactive, Affected By Feelings
Deferential, Cooperative, Avoids Conflict
Serious, Restrained, Careful
Expedient, Nonconforming
Shy, Timid, Threat-Sensitive
Tough, Objective, Unsentimental
Trusting, Unsuspecting, Accepting
Practical, Grounded, Down-To-Earth
Forthright, Genuine, Artless
Self-Assured, Unworried, Complacent
Traditional, Attached To Familiar
Group-Orientated, Affiliative
Tolerates Disorder, Unexacting, Flexible
Relaxed, Placid, Patient
Primary Scales
Descriptors of High Range
Warmth (A)
Warm-hearted, Caring, Attentive To Others
Reasoning (B)
Abstract, Bright, Fast-Learner
Emotional Stability (C)
Emotionally Stable, Adaptive, Mature
Dominance (E)
Dominant, Forceful, Assertive
Liveliness (F)
Enthusiastic, Animated, Spontaneous
Rule-Consciousness (G)
Rule-Conscious, Dutiful
Social Boldness (H)
Socially Bold, Venturesome, Thick-Skinned
Sensitivity (I)
Sensitive, Aesthetic, Tender-Minded
Vigilance (L)
Vigilant, Suspicious, Skeptical, Wary
Abstractedness (M)
Abstracted, Imaginative, Idea-Oriented
Privateness (N)