What Is The 16PF In Behavioral Science?

The 16PF (Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire) is a widely-used self-report personality assessment instrument developed by psychologist Raymond Cattell in 1949. The test is designed to measure 16 primary personality traits, or factors, that represent a comprehensive and multidimensional understanding of an individual’s personality. The 16PF is grounded in Cattell’s factor-analytic research, which utilized a statistical technique called factor analysis to identify and group together related personality traits.

16 Personality Factors

The 16 primary personality factors assessed by the 16PF are:

1. Warmth (A)

The degree to which an individual is warm, caring, and approachable.

2. Reasoning (B)

The individual’s capacity for abstract thinking and problem-solving.

3. Emotional Stability (C)

The level of emotional resilience and ability to cope with stress.

4. Dominance (E)

The extent to which a person is assertive, forceful, and in control of their environment.

5. Liveliness (F)

The degree of enthusiasm, energy, and spontaneity.

6. Rule-Consciousness (G)

The importance of adhering to social rules, norms, and expectations.

7. Social Boldness (H)

The level of comfort and confidence in social situations.

8. Sensitivity (I)

The extent to which an individual is empathetic, perceptive, and aware of the feelings of others.

9. Vigilance (L)

The tendency to be cautious, suspicious, and watchful of others.

10. Abstractedness (M)

The preference for daydreaming, imagination, and abstract thinking.

11. Privateness (N)

The inclination to be reserved, private, and reluctant to disclose personal information.

12. Apprehension (O)

The tendency to worry, feel guilt, and doubt oneself.

13. Openness to Change (Q1)

The willingness to adapt and embrace new experiences and ideas.

14. Self-Reliance (Q2)

The preference for independence, autonomy, and self-sufficiency.

15. Perfectionism (Q3)

The drive for orderliness, accuracy, and high standards.

16. Tension (Q4)

The level of impatience, restlessness, and agitation.

Global Factors

In addition to the 16 primary factors, the 16PF also assesses five global or second-order factors, known as the Global Factors, which provide a broader overview of an individual’s personality. These include:

1. Extraversion

Sociability, assertiveness, and positive emotions.

2. Anxiety

Emotional instability, worry, and apprehension.

3. Tough-Mindedness

Practicality, decisiveness, and skepticism.

4. Independence

Autonomy, self-reliance, and nonconformity.

5. Self-Control

Responsibility, dependability, and persistence.


The 16PF is widely used in various settings, such as clinical and counseling psychology, education, career guidance, and personnel selection. The questionnaire has been revised and updated several times since its original publication, with the most recent version being the 16PF Fifth Edition. Critics of the 16PF argue that it lacks the parsimony of other personality models, such as the Five-Factor Model (FFM), also known as the Big Five. Nonetheless, the 16PF remains an influential and widely used personality assessment tool in psychology and related fields.

Related Behavioral Science Terms