Although Cattell contributed much to personality research through the use of factor analysis his theory is greatly criticized. The most apparent criticism of Cattell's 16 Personality Factor Model is the fact that despite many attempts his theory has never been entirely replicated. In 1971, Howarth and Brown's factor analysis of the 16 Personality Factor Model found 10 factors that failed to relate to items present in the model. Howarth and Brown concluded, that the 16 PF does not measure the factors which it purports to measure at a primary level (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1987) Studies conducted by Sell et al. (1970) and by Eysenck and Eysenck (1969) also failed to verify the 16 Personality Factor Model's primary level (Noller, Law, Comrey, 1987). Also, the reliability of Cattell's self-report data has also been questioned by researchers (Schuerger, Zarrella, & Hotz, 1989).

Cattell and colleagues responded to the critics by maintaining the stance that the reason the studies were not successful at replicating the primary structure of the 16 Personality Factor model was because the studies were not conducted according to Cattell's methodology. However, using Cattell's exact methodology, Kline and Barrett (1983), only were able to verify four of sixteen primary factors (Noller, Law & Comrey, 1987).

In response to Eysenck's criticism, Cattell, himself, published the results of his own factor analysis of the 16 Personality Factor Model, which also failed to verify the hypothesized primary factors (Eysenck, 1987).

Despite all the criticism of Cattell's hypothesis, his empirical findings lead the way for investigation and later discovery of the 'Big Five' dimensions of personality. Fiske (1949) and Tupes and Chris tal (1961) simplified Cattell's variables to five recurrent factors known as extraversión or surgency, agreeableness, consciousness, emotional stability and intellect or openness (Pervin & John, 1999).

Cattell's Sixteen Personality Factor Model has been greatly criticized by many researchers, mainly because of the inability of replication. More than likely, during Cattell's factor analysis errors in computation occurred resulting in skewed data, thus the inability to replicate. Since, computer programs for factor analysis did not exist during Cattell's time and calculations were done by hand it is not surprising that some errors occurred. However, through investigation into to the validity of Cattell's model researchers did discover the Big Five Factors, which have been monumental in understanding personality, as we know it today.

Table 12.3: Primary Factors and Descriptors in Cattell's 16 Personality Factor Model (Adapted from Conn & Rieke, 1994)

Descriptors of Low Range

Primary Factor

Descriptors of High Range

Reserve, impersonal, distant, cool, reserved, impersonal, detached, formal, aloof (Sizothymia)


Warm, outgoing, attentive to others, kindly, easy going, participating, likes people (Affectothymia)

Concrete thinking, lower general mental capacity, less intelligent, unable to handle abstract problems (Lower Scholastic Mental Capacity)


Abstract-thinking, more intelligent, bright, higher general mental capacity, fast learner (Higher Scholastic Mental Capacity)

Reactive emotionally, changeable, affected by feelings, emotionally less stable, easily upset (Lower Ego Strength)

Emotional Stability

Emotionally stable, adaptive, mature, faces reality calm (Higher Ego Strength)

Deferential, cooperative, avoids conflict, submissive, humble, obedient, easily led, docile, accommodating (Submissiveness)


Dominant, forceful, assertive, aggressive, competitive, stubborn, bossy (Dominance)

Serious, restrained, prudent, taciturn, introspective, silent (Desurgency)


Lively, animated, spontaneous, enthusiastic, happy go lucky, cheerful, expressive, impulsive (Surgency)

Expedient, nonconforming, disregards rules, self indulgent (Low Super Ego Strength)


Rule-conscious, dutiful, conscientious, conforming, moralistic, staid, rule bound (High Super Ego Strength)

Shy, threat-sensitive, timid, hesitant, intimidated (Threctia)

Social Boldness

Socially bold, venturesome, thick skinned, uninhibited (Parmia)

Utilitarian, objective, unsentimental, tough minded, self-reliant, no-nonsense, rough (Harria)


Sensitive, aesthetic, sentimental, tender minded, intuitive, refined (Premsia)

Trusting, unsuspecting, accepting, unconditional, easy (Alaxia)


Vigilant, suspicious, skeptical, distrustful, oppositional (Protension)

Grounded, practical, prosaic, solution orientated, steady, conventional (Praxernia)


Abstract, imaginative, absent minded, impractical, absorbed in ideas (Autia)

Forthright, genuine, artless, open, guileless, naive, unpretentious, involved (Artlessness)


Private, discreet, nondisclosing, shrewd, polished, worldly, astute, diplomatic (Shrewdness)

Self-Assured, unworried, complacent, secure, free of guilt, confident, self satisfied (Untroubled)


Apprehensive, self doubting, worried, guilt prone, insecure, worrying, self-blaming (Guilt Proneness)

Traditional, attached to familiar, conservative, respecting traditional ideas (Conservatism)

Openness to Change

Open to change, experimental, liberal, analytical, critical, free thinking, flexibility (Radicalism)

Group-oriented, affinitive, a joiner and follower dependent (Group Adherence)


Self-reliant, solitary, resourceful, individualistic, self sufficient (Self-sufficiency)

Tolerated disorder, unex-acting, flexible, undisciplined, lax, self-conflict, impulsive, careless of social rues, uncontrolled (Low Integration)


Perfectionistic, organized, compulsive, self-disciplined, socially precise, exacting will power, control, self-sentimental (High Self-concept Control)

Relaxed, placid, tranquil, torpid, patient, composed low drive (Low Ergic Tension)


Tense, high energy, impatient, driven, frustrated, over wrought, time driven. (High Ergic Tension)

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >