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16 Personality Factors and deviant positions

Harry Caufield

I've posted here about various personality tests and psychometrics before and was intrigued to see a new test going around on Facebook recently. I say "intrigued" because the test clearly wasn't just another Meyers-Briggs remix. Instead, it's the Personality Factors test, and at least as far as their website claims, the test is "based on accurate research in psychometrics". It's actually based on Raymond Cattell's 16 Personality Factors.* Versions of the test have been in use since the 1940's and contributed to later methods.

The test is a series of self-assessment statements answered on a 5-point scale from "Very Inaccurate" to "Very Accurate". It reminds me of tests like the Values Based Leader assessment (and the MBTI, of course, but the MBTI is so omnipresent that it's hard to avoid).

I should note there's a mandatory Facebook login at the end of the test, followed by another subtle "Share to Facebook" button and an offer to buy the full version of your results for $10.

A few statements seemed out of the ordinary:

  • "I use swear words." 
  • "I take deviant positions."
  • "I like to stand during the National Anthem."

Some of the statements remind me of the Big Five personality traits. I'm skeptical. (I learned later that Cattell's factor analysis methods directly contributed to development of the Big Five.)

Here's my result:

It's certainly a blob.

It's certainly a blob.

All this result really tells me is that I am high in complexity. Isn't a personality test intended to reduce complexity to simplified categories? To be fair, it also scores me highly for Intellect and Imagination. No surprises here - that's how I assessed myself. I'm still curious about which category statements about the national anthem feed into (dutifulness, perhaps?).

I suppose that summarizing the results of any personality assessment without full interpretation are useless, especially if test subjects hope to learn something new about themselves. I'm also generally skeptical of all psychometrics, but in this case criticizing Cattell's methods may be like criticizing Freud's dream interpretations: sometimes it's enough just to talk about something everyone else disregards. 

Avoid paying ten bucks for the privilege, though.

*That WP article needs editing for neutral point of view.