Cattell trait theory of Personality

Cattell trait theory

According to Cattell, Human behavior can be Determined on the basis of personality traits. He created a taxonomy of 16 different personality traits that was used to describe difference between people’s personality. He used a technique called factor analysis and Shorted down the list of 16 factors. Each person contains all these 16 traits to a certain degree, but they might be high in some traits and low in others.

Cattell trait theory
Cattell trait theory of personality

Three data types are collected –

  • L- Data ( Life Data) – It is obtained by gathering life history of person (personal records)
  • Q- Data ( Questionnaire data) –  It is obtained by asking people to describe themselves in response to a set of standard questions (Multiple choice, true/false). 
  • T-Data (Experiment data) – It is obtained by asking people to take various tests (projective, physical, reaction times) in which the purpose of the test isn’t obvious. It involves the creation of Special situations in which the person’s behavior may be objectively scored

Raymond Bernard Cattell has identified two type of traits general traits which are those possessed by everyone to a certain degree or possessed by all and Specific traits which are those typical of only one person.

Cattell, by adopting a method called factor analysis has recognized 16 ‘source traits’ as building blocks of our personality. These factors are known as Sixteen Personality Factor (16PF) Questionnaire and this 16 traits describe in below–

Cattell’s 16 personality factors or 16PF

The Sixteen Source Traits: Factor Low-Scores High-Scorers

  1. Warmth – Reserved versus Outgoing
  2. Reasoning or Intelligence– Less Intelligent versus More Intelligent
  3. Emotional Stability – Low Ego Strength versus High Ego Strength
  4. Dominance – Humble versus Assertive
  5. Liveliness – Sober versus Happy-go-lucky
  6. Rule Consciousness – Lack of internal standard versus Strong conscience
  7. Social Boldness – Shy versus Adventuresome
  8. Sensitivity – Tender-minded versus Tough-minded
  9. Vigilance – Suspicious versus Trustiing
  10. Abstractedness – Practical versus Imaginative
  11. Privateness – Forthright versus Shrewd
  12. Apprehension – Self-assured versus Apprehensive
  13. Openness to Change – Conservative versus Experimental
  14. Self-Reliance – Self- sufficient versus Group- dependent
  15. Perfectionism – Controlled versus Casual
  16. Tension – Tense versus Relaxed
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About Raymond Cattell

Raymond Bernard Cattell
  • Raymond Bernard Cattell (1905 – 1998) was a British and American psychologist who was born March 20, 1905, West Bromwich.
  • He is well known for his exploration of many areas in psychology. 
  • He attend London University where he was drawn to the burgeoning field of chemistry.
  • In 1997, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the American Psychological Foundation.
  • Raymond Cattell Died February 2, 1998, leaving his 16 personality factors that governs our development.

After working in a hospital during World War 1, he decided that understanding human behavior and interaction is the only way to get beyond the irrationality of the times. After analyzing psychologist Gordon Allport studies he was able to limit it to 171 characteristics then he used factor analysis and that is how he got the 16 personality factors.

  • Its an assessment on human behaviour (Test/ Questionnaire) .
  • Predicts how a person is likely to behave and interact with others.
  • How well suited they are to the requirements of the job and if they will fit into the existent team.
What are Traits?

These are the relatively permanent reaction tendencies that are the basic structural functions of the personality.

  • Common Traits: possessed by everyone to a certain degree.
  • Unique Traits: possessed by one or a few.
  • Ability Traits: determines how efficiently we will work toward a goal .
  • Temperament Traits: general style of responding.
  • Dynamic Traits: driving forces of our behavior.
  • Source traits – Single, stable, permanent elements of our behavior. Each source trait gives rise to some aspect of behavior. All have same source traits in differing degrees.

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