Raymond Cattell’s Theory of Personality

The ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving differ from person to person; this is known as personality. Once the personality arises within an individual, it remains constant throughout the life of that individual. The word "personality" is derived from the Latin word "persona," which refers to a mask used by an actor to portray several roles or to conceal their actual identity. The main features of personality are consistency, which means that the personality of an individual remains the same in a variety of situations, affects behaviors and actions, which means that personality controls our movement in the current environment and motivates us to act in a particular manner in a specific situation, and multiple expressions, which means that the personality of an individual can be understood in the way of thinking, feeling, and interacting with others. Raymond Cattell’s Personality Theory is based on several traits. According to Cattell personality was rigidly experimental based on behavioral follow-ups and the huge amount of data. His main area of study was to understand the personality of the individual and how he/she will behave in a particular situation. Raymond Cattell used the psychometric research method and factor analysis methods for the development of his Theory of Personality.

Personality Theory

In the field of psychology, Raymond Cattell has many contributions but he is most famous for his personality theory. Cattell to the study of personality uses countable data rather than observations. He studied personality by applying the factor analysis method. He divided the data into 3 types to get a huge and proper method of sampling. The three methods are:

  • Life Data (L) - Data on the behavior of individuals and way of behaving which includes marital conditions, interaction with others, and many more.

  • Experimental Data (D) - Recorded data of an individual's behavior that how that individual reacted in a particular situation.

  • Questionnaire Data (Q) - Data of answers of the individuals to some questions about behavior and feeling which is not understandable from observing behavior.

The main aim of Raymond Cattell’s theory of personality was the basic categorization of the characteristics of personality.

The 16 Main Characteristics of Personality Theory

Raymond Cattell’s personality theory discussed 16 features of personality that each and every individual consists of varying personalities.

  • Warm
  • Intellect
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Assertiveness
  • Energy
  • Consciousness of rule
  • Standards regarding delicacy
  • Responsiveness
  • Abstraction
  • Surveillance
  • Privacy
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of upheavals
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Perfection
  • Tenacity

From the 16 features of personality, 16 Personality strand surveys arrived. It is a test that is adopted by psychologists, individuals, and health institutes to analyze a patient. In this exam, the individuals will be asked about some situations and their reactions to those particular situations. Cattell’s 16 main characteristics of personality helped in the development of the ‘big five’ features later. The five big factors are:

  • Open-Mindedness
  • Dutifulness
  • Forwardness
  • Cordialness
  • Weirdness

Everyone has the above personality characteristics to some degree and through that, they react to different situations in different ways. Nowadays the big five tests of personality are more in use than the 16 personality characteristics questionnaire.

Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence

In addition to Raymond Cattell’s contribution to the theory of personality which is in use nowadays also contributed to the distinction between fluid and crystallized intelligence. Cattell introduced these two concepts in 1963.

The fast-decision-making ability of an individual and reasoning ability is known as fluid intelligence. The presence of this type of intelligence in an individual helps him/her in solving problems easily. These individuals are also known as street smart.

Applying the gained skills and knowledge in any situation is known as crystallized intelligence. Individuals with this type of intelligence are known as book smart. These two types of intelligence are independent but are connected to one another.


From the above discussions, it can be concluded that Raymond Cattell made an enduring impression on the ground of psychology, mainly in the theory of personality. Intelligence and personality trials take part in an integral way in analyzing functions of psychology. There are several advantages and disadvantages of the theory of personality of Cattell. The trait approach has the capability to differentiate the behaviors based on observation and this approach uses unbiased paradigms to classify and calculate the behaviors of individuals. These are the advantages of the Trait approach of Cattell. Some of the disadvantages of Cattell’s personality trait approach are that it is not able to predict any behavior of a particular situation, to calculate or understand the personality of an individual personal observation or report of self is needed, and the trait approach cannot properly give any explanation that why an individual behaved in a particular way. These are some of the criticism of the theory of personality by Raymond Cattell.

Updated on: 12-Dec-2022

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