Cattel's Personality Factors

There has been a long-standing discussion among psychiatrists over defining and characterizing personality. The trait personality theory represents one of these basic concepts. Trait theory posits that an individual's personality comprises defining characteristics. Some of the first trait theories attempted to define all possible traits. For instance, American psychologists found that the English language has more than four thousand terms that can characterize different aspects of people's personalities.


In psychology, Cattell is a well-known Englishman of the 20th century. To foreshadow the analytical and mathematical perspective he might take to psychology, he enrolled at the university and physics while attending the University of Oxford. Cattell's interest in psychology was sparked by the cultural upheaval of World War I; he went on to earn a degree in the discipline from London's University of London. Over the next few years, he taught at several American universities, including Columbia and Harvard. After this, Cattell founded the University of Illinois's Lab of Psychological Testing and Behavioral Aspects. After that, he was instrumental in establishing the Society for Multivariate Cognitive Neuroscience and its accompanying publication, Multivariate Behavior Research. Despite these accomplishments,


Raymond Cattell's greatest contribution to psychology occurred after he retired from the University of Illinois. One of the primary differences in Cattell's professional life was his use of statistical models to examine human behavior rather than the research methodology style of trying to measure single variables against one another. While retired, Cattell collaborated with his spouse Heather Birkett on developing the 16-Factor Personality Model.

According to Cattell's theory, people have 16 different character qualities. A person's level of a certain character feature, known as a "primary factor," can be described as low, and a person's level of a different trait, known as a "secondary factor," can be described as high.

The principles are mentioned as follows

  • Sensitivity
  • Logic
  • Emotional stability
  • Domination
  • Playfulness
  • Principle
  • Sociocultural
  • Vulnerability
  • Guardian
  • Abstractedness
  • Privateness
  • Nervousness
  • willingness to adapt
  • Consciousness
  • Obsessiveness
  • Stress
  • Improvements

Considering his scientific or mathematical background, Cattell's personality hypothesis has been criticized. The lack of complete replication is at the heart of most accusations against the hypothesis. This raises doubts about the accuracy of the principal component analysis that formed the basis of Cattell's theory of personality. Cattell hypothesized that this was due to researchers not following his "precise methodology" while attempting to reproduce his results.

Despite the challenges with replication, Cattell's personality theory had an enormous impact on the study of personality within psychology. The "big five" character qualities could not have been discovered without Cattell's sixteen fundamental variables. Others followed Cattell's lead in attempting to improve upon and perfect his sixteen elements for assessing personality. Cattell's research revealed, "global elements" that incorporate several of the sixteen components into five wider features. Psychologists used this discovery as a jumping-off point to develop a more concise personality theory.

  • Open-mindedness
  • Industriousness
  • Extraverted
  • Cooperativeness
  • Psychoticism

Cattell added seven other characteristics: extroversion, zeppia vs. coasthenia, boorishness vs. mature socialization, informality, group commitment with perceived inferiority, and social panache vs. explicit expressiveness. Although the 16 qualities allow us to differentiate between sane and deranged individuals, we can still not fully understand the nature of psychosis or any behavior beyond the norm. Cattell established 12 new criteria to quantify psychopathological features by comparing the most obvious characteristics of normal and disturbed personalities.

Environmental Traits

Cattell makes a distinction between inborn and acquired characteristics. Constitutional qualities are those that an individual brings under his or her biological makeup. At the same time, environmental mold features develop due to a person's exposure to various stimuli in his or her immediate environment. Cattle argues that outward appearances can be attributed to both nature and nurture, with certain qualities created solely by genetics and the environment. He planned to use a statistical method named MAVA (Mixed Abstract Variation Assessment) to examine the extent to which a particular trait was influenced by genetics vs. environmental factors.

Dynamic Traits

A person's dynamic characteristics are those attributes that must be there in the first place for the individual to set his goal. In contrast, his ability characteristics refer to his capacity, his temperament traits reveal his behavior while executing his various activities, and his goal-setting traits speak to his motivation. One's attitude can be considered the dynamic surface features that reveal the particular expressions of one's underlying goals. They are the outward manifestations of the intangible traits that propel a person to pursue his ambitions. One example of a dynamic source feature in the environment that focuses on social objects is sentiment. Comparable to ergs, but stemming from other sources (sociocultural rather than environmental).


Cattell included these 16 traits in his assessment. The 16PF Personality Assessment is a widely-used instrument for assessing candidates for employment and marital compatibility. The test consists of questions with only one correct answer and two possible options. In this way, a person's personality attribute score can be considered to fall along a scale from the highest to the lowest possible value.