16 Personality Factor Questionnaire Test Critique

General Descriptive Information

The psychological test selected for critique is the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). It is an objective test of 16 multidimensional personalities attributes set up in omnibus form. The test serves normed references to each of identified attributes (Cattell & Mead, 2008). This psychological test Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire is an all-inclusive evaluation of normal personalities found to be effective in diverse circumstances (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003).

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The traits defined in the questionnaire are outcome of the year’s factor-analytic research that is concentrated on distinguishing personality’s fundamental structural constituents (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003).

In addition to the identification of 16 normal-range personality traits, the researchers associated with this test also discovered five all-embracing dimensions – a deviation of the ‘Big Five’ factors. Originally, the test sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, was developed by Raymond Cattell (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003). It is a factor-analytically derived questionnaire for assessing individuals’ personality. Raymond Cattell, author of the test significantly used factor analysis to expose the profound, fundamental traits that motivate human behaviour (Cattell & Mead, 2008).

The 16PF scales derived by the author is generally used for assessing disposition that involves an individual’s characteristic style of thinking, comprehending, and behaving over a comparatively long period of time and in an extensive array of diverse conditions. Initially, it was published in 1949 by Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, Inc (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003). This test is appropriate for a wide range of versatile populations (Schuerger, 1992).

It allows for a worldwide depiction of a person’s coping style. As well, a person’s reactive posture to an ever changing and extending environment is also presented with it. In this concern how an individual perceive is identified by assessing his or her personal behaviour (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003).

The 16PF questionnaire involves 185 multiple-choice written at a i¬?fth-grade reading level. It renders scores on 16 primary personality scales and i¬?ve global scales and the administration of test takes approx 30-60 minutes (Garcia-Sedeno, Navarro & Menacho, 2009). This test population admits people of 16 year and above. Purchasing cost of the test varies from $80-$142 depending upon the test, answer sheets, manual, scoring services (Cattell & Mead, 2008).

If all these things are purchased the test cost will go above $130. This test is a proprietary test, as it is commercially published by the Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, Inc. Due to its commercial availability it is used to a large extent (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003).

Purpose and Nature of Test

The main purpose of 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire test is to assess the fundamental nature and psychology of an individual. It is an all-inclusive measure of normal personalities used by individuals. From the time of its inception, this test structure is multi-level, with the 16 primary traits organizing the five global Big-Five factors (Cattell & Mead, 2008). This test has an extensive history of empirical research and is used as a theory to identify individual differences. It is used to measure individuals’ five primary personality factors that are extraversion, anxiety, tough-mindedness, independence and self-control (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003).

These five factors are then used to identify relationship with 16 primary personality traits that are warmth, intelligence/reasoning ability, emotional stability, dominance, impulsiveness/liveliness, conformity/rule consciousness, boldness, sensitivity, suspiciousness, imagination/abstractness, shrewdness, insecurity, radicalism/openness-to change, self-reliance, self-discipline and tension (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003).

This test is used to predict leadership, consciousness, empathy, creativity, social-skills, power dynamics self-esteem, and coping patterns. The 16PF test is now used widely at global level and due to its extensive use it has been translated and adapted into more than 30 languages (Cattell & Mead, 2008). In addition to this, it is also used broadly in counselling and clinical settings to predict an in-depth, unified picture of a person, together with strengths and weaknesses (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003). As well, it is also used to encourage discussion between the clinician and client by encouraging apprehension, understanding, and relationship from the initial session (Hersen, 2004).

It is also used to predict usual areas of daily experience that can be used by professionals to aid conversations, growing self-awareness, and making clients to ensure a feeling of partnership (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003). It is also used by organizations to predict an individual’s capability for insight, self-esteem, change adaptability, cognitive style etc. As well, the test also assists in predicting effective strategies for building a positive work alliance and environment and in selection of effective interventions (Garcia-Sedeno, Navarro & Menacho, 2009).

The 16PF Questionnaire test is also used to predict an objective, inclusive, and efficient source of information in service and career settings. Additionally, it is also used in several other setting of life or profession like basic research, education, medical treatment, military training and sports psychology (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003). In this test, it is required for test taker to identify individuals personality with patience and high considerations as their assessments and results will be used for further strategy development (Hersen, 2004).

The test is manual comprehensive as it includes information on how the test was constructed, its reliability and validity, composition of norm groups, its administration etc. The test is quite easy to read as its administration is not so complicated. The test is designed for extensive population that includes people of 16 year age and above (Cattell & Mead, 2008). The 16 personality factor questionnaire is a behaviour observation as through this personalities of individuals are identified to take further decisions (Coates, 2001).

The format of the test includes 185 multiple-choice items written at a fifth-grade reading level so that everyone can understand it easily. The test approx takes 35-50 minutes to finish in paper-and-pencil format and computer administration takes 25-35 minutes (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003). 16PF test renders scores on 16 primary factor scales, five global scale and three validity scales.

Its each primary scale involves 10-15 items with each item having a three-choice answer layout (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003). The test instructions are simple and straightforward and in addition to this, the test is untimed so its administration necessitates very little supervisions, whether it is administered individually or in a group (Hersen, 2004).

This test’s administration and scoring procedures are very easy as paper-and-pencil version has easy hand-scoring instructions. Computer scoring and interpretive reports are also available via the OnSite software program (Cattell & Mead, 2008). As well, for administration and scoring answer sheets can also be mailed or faxed to the publisher. Computerized administration and scoring are also available online (Pietrzak & Page, 2001). For global users, it can be administered and scored in number of different languages from website (www.16PFworld.com).

In 16PF test, a test administration need to have knowledge about human behaviour and as well as he should be given training to identify actual behaviour by asking about actual behavioural situations (Coates, 2001). In this, a test-taker is not force to make self-ratings and assessment of behaviour. In spite of this he is trained in a way so he can become able in involving participants’ in actual behaviour situations and then judge their personalities and basic traits. The test also has high face validity (Schuerger, 1992).

Technical Evaluation

In 16PF questionnaire, there are two norm groups that are male and females. It includes secondary/high school students, college, and adult norm groups. Number of norms related to administration, scoring and computerization are established in 16PF questionnaire test. As well, norms are also based on age, sex, race, and education level. The norm groups are selected on the basis of global big five personality factors and their relationship with 16 primary scales (Cattell & Mead, 2008). These norm groups are also divided into sub-groups like secondary and high school students or on the basis of age like individuals with 16 years or individuals with 20-24 years etc (Coates, 2001).

In 16PF questionnaire’s test reliability evidence is done with the help of test-retest reliabilities that measure temporal consistency or stability. It is documented in the 16PF Fifth Edition Technical Manual (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003). For primary scales of 16PF, test-retest reliabilities average 0.80 over a two-week interval and 0.70 over a two-month interval. As well, the five global scales of the test demonstrate higher test-retest reliabilities. It has average 0.87 for a two week interval and 0.78 for a two-month interval (Essentials of 16PF Assessment, 2003).

16PF dimensions were explicated through factor analysis due to this construct validity is furnished by studies for its factor structure. This factor structure has been designed in a number of languages (Cattell & Mead, 2008). A wide-spread research dating back a half century appropriates evidence of the test’s applied validity and its value in counselling, career development, clinical, educational, personnel selection and development, and research settings. The standard error of measurement for 16PF lies within the range for the test (Matthews, Deary & Whiteman, 2003).

Test Reviews

Numbers of reviewers have reviewed this test and they think that subsequent are the strengths and weaknesses of the 16PF questionnaire test:


Substantial strengths of this test are reliability of its manual, reasonable scoring method, quantitative measurement and scientific approach (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003).

Being a personality assessment test is its biggest strength.

It is the most renowned instrument for assessing normal adult populations’ personality attributes (Cattell & Mead, 2008).

The test also has strong reliability coefficient and standard error of measurement within the range of the test along with distinct justification and normed sample (Grossman & Craig, 1995).


The most substantial weakness of this test is the absence of validation reports in technical manual.

As well, there is also absence of published data.

Interpretation is quite complex and necessitates advanced training (Cattell & Mead, 2008).

Use of question mark suggested as the middle response may direct towards an infrequency response style.

It may be difficult for a new user to understand the 16 factor personality structure due to its complexity (Coates, 2001).

The test has also received some criticism due to the complexity of the factor analytical approach.

The use of random scale presents that test responses are not associated to specific content.

Reading level also deviates from 5th grade level in the technical manual (Cattell & Mead, 2008).

Certain questions necessitate sight ability so it is not appropriate for blind individuals (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003).

Clients, for whom English is second language, this assessment may present difficulties.

Numbers of studies that use the test as a measurement instrument have been published in peer-reviewed journals. It includes studies related to education, research, clinical research, student behaviour, counselling and employees’ behaviour study etc (Coates, 2001). The test may perform positively or negatively, when researchers or test users, other than the test developer or publisher, use it.

It depends upon their understanding of technical manual and several others above discussed factors like language and skills (Grossman & Craig, 1995). If they follow all ethical consideration as described in the American Counselling Association, they will definitely complete it successfully (Watkins & Campbell, 2000).


With the help of above discussion, it can be said that the 16PF Questionnaire is a wide-ranging and extensively used instrument of normal, adult personality. It was explicated from factor-analytic research into the fundamental structural elements of personality (Coates, 2001). Initially it was published in 1949 but now its fifth edition is used that shows its extensive use and adaptability to assess personalities. It is significantly used in clinical and an array of organizational settings (Cattell & Schuerger, 2003).

It is quite significant in several aspects of clinical and counselling practice due to its capability to present a well-to-do, inclusive and objective image of a person’s lasting personality structure (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008). The 16PF outcomes also offer different field professionals with an apprehension of fundamental interpersonal, observed, exciting and motivational dynamics that in turn help them in effective treatment planning, mainly in time bound situations (Cattell & Mead, 2008). The test is also used by organizations for their own benefit in several functions like hiring, promotion, growth, training, outplacement, collaboration, team building and coaching (Grossman & Craig, 1995).

In addition to all these advantages and strengths of the 16PF, it also has several weaknesses like it is not applicable for all especially for those whom second language are English. The test is also complex due to factor analysis approach as well it also lack in published data. Ethical and legal considerations also present difficulty (Coates, 2001). If all the above discussed weaknesses are handled carefully, this test can assist with substantial benefits.

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