Personality Traits

Cattell's 16 Personality Factors

Last updated:
27 Jul 2004

Cattell's 16 Personality Factors

Cattell (1905 - present) viewed language is a useful source of information about personality. A quality described by many words, he figured, was likely to be a more important part of personality. Cattell used this lexical criterion in determining his original list of trait names.

Cattell narrowed Allport and Odbert’s (1936) listing of 17,000+ words down to 4,500 words and then narrowed these down further to 171 trait names. Cattell then collected self-ratings on these words and then conducted factor analysis. He used both observer and behavioural data. The result was his 16 personality factors (16

  • reserved v warm

  • concrete reasoning v abstract reasoning

  • reactive v emotionally stable

  • deferential v dominant

  • serious v lively

  • expedient v rule-conscious

  • shy v socially bold

  • utilitarian v sensitive

  • trusting v vigilant

  • practical v imaginative

  • forthright v private

  • self-assured v apprehensive

  • traditional v open-to-change

  • group-oriented v self-reliant

  • tolerates disorder v perfectionist

  • relaxed v tense