HomeTextsReferenceDisordersJournalTestsResearch About  Contact   
 
 

 

Chapter 7: Trait Theory

Section 1: Introduction to Trait Theory

Section 2: Gordon Allport, The Original Trait Theorist

Section 3: Henry Murray and the TAT

Section 4: Raymond Cattell and the 16PF

Section 5: Application of Trait Theory

 


 

Personality Factors

 

Raymond B. Cattell entered the field of psychology almost against his own better judgment.  After working in a hospital during World War I, he decided that understanding human behavior and interaction is the only way to get beyond the irrationality of the times.  While a graduate student at London University, he was hired as a research assistant to Charles Spearman, a mathematician studying the quantification of intelligence.

 

Spearman, a well known name in the field of intellectual assessment, developed a mathematical formula known as factor analysis.  This statistical technique allows one to take raw data and determine groupings of data.  In other words, if you and many others took a general test that had both math and English questions, a factor analysis would likely determine that there were two factors or groupings on this test.  Imagine the power of this technique for lesser understood concepts such as intelligence and personality.

 

By developing questionnaires and tests consisting of personality characteristics, and analyzing data from report cards of students, evaluations from employees, etc., Cattell applied this new statistical technique.  In 1949, he published his findings in an assessment device known as the 16PF.  According to Cattell's research, human personality traits could be summarized by 16 personality factors (PF) or main traits.

 

He described these 16 traits on a continuum.  In other words, everybody has some degree of every trait, according to Cattell.  The key to assessment is determining where on the continuum an individual falls.  The 16 traits are shown in the chart below.

 

Cattell's 16 Personality Factors

Abstractedness

imaginative versus practical

Apprehension

insecure versus complacent

Dominance

aggressive versus passive

Emotional Stability

calm and stable versus high-strung and

Liveliness

enthusiastic versus serious

Openness to Change

liberal versus traditional

Perfectionism

compulsive and controlled versus indifferent

Privateness

pretentious versus unpretentious

Reasoning

abstract versus concrete

Rule Consciousness

moralistic versus free-thinking

Self-Reliance

leader versus follower

Sensitivity

sensitive versus tough-minded

Social Boldness

uninhibited versus timid

Tension

driven and tense versus relaxed and easy going

Vigilance

suspicious versus accepting

Warmth

open and warmhearted versus aloof and critical

 

 

 

The information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient, site visitor, or student and his/her existing psychologist, mental health provider or college instructor.

Copyright 1999-2003, AllPsych and Heffner Media Group, Inc., All Rights Reserved.  Last Updated November 29, 2011

  visitors since September 23, 2002