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Cattell’s 16 Factors

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Cattell was the creator of the 16 PF Test. However, among the most significant interventions of the author are the development of an outstanding theory of personality, the creation of new methods for statistical analysis, and the development of the clear and fluid intelligence theory (later produced by his student John Horn).

In this text, we will develop the description of the 16 traits measured in Cattell’s test. It is noticeable that there are no right or wrong answers in the 16 PF test. Each person should answer the test questions as honestly as possible so that we can get an idea of the candidate’s personality. Nor can we say that a low or high score on a particular factor is good or bad, although there exist social perceptions that tend to see one extreme as desirable. In general, the characteristics of the position are the ones that will determine which values are most appropriate.

A Affability

This scale would describe a person who can range from apathetic and reserved to a very social person. A person with A- might be cautious in their relationship with others and would rather be alone than work with others or in a team. On the other hand, an A+ candidate would be the opposite, opting to work in a group and would bond optimally with others.

B Reasoning

This factor describes a candidate’s reasoning ability. It measures their intellectual capacity. We must clarify that to measure a person’s intellectual capacity, a battery of tests is necessary. It is impossible to evaluate a person’s intelligence with a single test, much less with a single scale.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that a candidate with a B- may be poorly educated or schooled.

 C Stability

The original name given by Cattell was the Strength of Self. This scale measures a candidate’s emotional stability, that is, their ability to cope with the problems that arise and their self-perception of well-being.

E Dominance

It measures a person’s ability to dominate or submit. That is, whether a candidate is competitive or collaborative.

F Liveliness

This scale evaluates a person’s level of extraversion. That is, whether they are spontaneous or calm, enthusiastic or cautious.

G Attention to rules

It calculates whether a candidate tends to follow the rules or not. If they can abide by norms or ordinances or if they use to defy them. 

H Boldness

It measures feelings of inhibition. That is, whether the person is shy or outgoing. An A+ on this scale is essential for candidates for customer service and sales positions.

I Sensitivity 

Here we would measure the feeling or thinking as an evaluation tool when facing a conflict or problem. That is, if you are a logical and rational person or if you are intuitive and sensitive.

L Vigilance

This scale measures the candidate’s sense of alertness to the opinions and behaviors of others. If they are confident and relaxed or if, on the contrary, they are distrustful with a vigilant attitude.

M Abstraction

This scale is a measure of practical feeling. It evaluates whether a candidate directs their thinking and attention toward mental processes or whether, on the contrary, they are guided by practical and concrete aspects.

N Privacity 

This factor evaluates whether a person tends to be open about their private life (or not). An N+ would be a discreet candidate, reluctant to provide information about their personal life. An N+ is a person who is transparent and open to providing information about their personal life. 

O Apprehension 

It assesses whether a person is self-confident or tends to worry too much about the problems or diverse situations that come their way. An O- is a candidate who can cope with stressful situations, and an O+ can be more cautious and even anticipate problems.

Q1 Openness to change

This scale evaluates a candidate’s attitude to change. A person may be open to change and even enjoy it or prefer routine and the unchanging nature of everyday situations. 

Q2 Self-sufficiency

 It would oscillate between independence and preference for working alone and that person who prefers to work in a group and is dependent on it. It is good to consider that roles such as Junior or with little work experience may require (and it is recommended) that you work with a group or be dependent on someone else.

Q3 Perfectionism

This scale would evaluate the candidate’s ability to reach an idealization of their SELF. That is, if they are a goal-oriented and detail-oriented person or if they are a person who tolerates ambiguity and is tolerant of disorder. 

Q4 Tension

This factor measures the level of anxiety or frustration a person possesses. A person with Q4+ is highly effective because of their motivation and restlessness; however, they may be extremely anxious and detrimental in resolving situations. A Q4- is patient and calm.

If you are looking for a test to measure Cattell’s 16 factors (or other psychometric tests) for your recruitment and selection processes, you can register on Evalart for free and start using our online tests.