Raymond Cattell and his personality theory best help (2023)

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Psychology and mathematics are usually viewed as two separate entities. As a social science, psychological research generally focuses on qualitative research and human experience. However, some psychologists choose to merge the two in a field known as psychometric research. One such psychologist is Raymond Cattell, known for his theory of personality.

Who is Raymond Cattel?

Raymond Cattelis a famous 20th-century psychologist from England. He studied chemistry and physics at the University of London, which shaped his scientific and mathematical approach to psychology.

Cattell first became interested in psychology in the context of the culture shock of World War I. He decided to pursue a career in this field and eventually earned a degree in Psychology from the University of London. He later accepted several professorships at universities in the United States, including Columbia University and Harvard University.

Cattell then founded the Group Behavior and Personality Assessment Laboratory at the University of Illinois. He later helped found the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology and a related journal, Multivariate Behavior Research. One of the key differences in Cattell's career was his use of multivariate statistics to study human behavior, rather than following the traditional research style of measuring individual variables against one another.

Despite these great achievements, Raymond Cattell's greatest contribution to psychology came after his retirement from the University of Illinois. After his retirement, Cattell worked with his wife, Heather Birkett, to develop the 16-factor model of personality.

Psychometric Research

Raymond Cattell took a different approach to psychological research than many of his predecessors. Key to his research techniques was psychometrics, the field of study focused on measuring qualities such as intelligence, personality traits, skills and attitudes. Instead of working as a therapist, Cattell spent his career in psychology as a dedicated researcher.

Psychometric research focuses on differences between individuals. The method has two main components: the development of instruments and tools for measuring characteristics and the refinement of measurement approaches.

(Video) Cattell Trait Theory of Personality - Simplest Explanation Ever

Psychometrics was originally developed to measure intelligence, but was later expanded to study personality traits. Most of Raymond Cattell's research has focused on the latter. Psychometric research attempts to quantify human qualities. Critics argue that these things cannot be quantified, but supporters of psychometrics claim that many critics misuse psychometric research. Still, the process of defining measurements for a social science like psychology proved challenging for the pioneers of psychometrics.

Despite these challenges, the field of psychometrics is broad. For example the popular oneMyers-Briggs-Typenindikator(MBTI) is a product of the psychometric movement.

Factor analysis

One of the key practices of psychometric research isFactor analysis. Raymond Cattell helped develop this statistical method in the 1920s to improve current measurement models in psychology. Factor analysis is a method to find underlying relationships in large research groups. It can be a valuable tool to simplify large searches to find common features.

Raymond Cattell is known for using factor analytic methods instead of more subjective or qualitative methods to study personality traits. He pioneered the use of factor analysis to study behavior. The method of factor analysis has led Cattell to identify the 16 individual characteristics that are fundamental to his theory of personality.

personality theory

Raymond Cattell has made many contributions to psychology, but he is perhaps best known for his theory of personality. Cattell developed this theory later in life, and his work in psychometric research and factor analysis culminated in this unique perspective on personality.

As with all of his work, Cattell took a statistical and measurable approach to studying personality rather than using observational and qualitative research. He wanted to apply factor analysis to personality. To do this, he classified the data into three parts for a comprehensive and comprehensive sampling procedure. The three types were:

  • Vital Data (L-Data): L-Data contain information about a person's everyday behavior and behavior patterns. This includes things like the grades they got in school, their marital status, their social interactions, and more.

  • Experimental data (T-data): T-data include responses recorded in standardized experiments in a laboratory setting to test participants' responses to specific situations.

  • Questionnaire Data (Q-Data): Q-Data contain responses to questions about participants' behavior and feelings. This data provides a deeper insight into an individual's personality that behavioral data does not always reveal.

The goal of Cattell's personality theory was to establish a "common taxonomy" of personality traits. It refined previously created lists of personality traits and narrowed the categories to simplify personality descriptions even more than its predecessors. The previously established taxonomy, created by psychologists Gordon Allport and Henry Odbert in 1936, contained thousands of personality traits divided into four categories. However, this taxonomy contained some "ambiguous category boundaries",to Cattle, which reduces the importance of the work. Raymond Cattell's theory of personality attempted to refine the earlier taxonomy and create stricter boundaries that increased the importance of the theory.

The 16 Key Traits of Cattell's Personality Theory

Cattell's personality theory described 16 personality traits that each person possesses to varying degrees. Personality traits are known as "primary factors" where someone can be in the low or high range. Within these areas are descriptions of attributes one might possess or ways in which one might act. The 16 primary personality factors described by Cattell's personality theory are as follows:

  • warmth

  • Argumentation

    (Video) Raymond Cattell Personality Theory Biography

  • emotional stability

  • Domain

  • liveliness

  • knowledge of the rules

  • social courage

  • sensitivity

  • monitoring

  • abstraction

  • privacy

  • seizure

  • opening for change

  • independence

  • perfectionism

    (Video) Personality Chapter 8 (Cattell and others) Lecture Part 1

  • voltage

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The 16 Personality Factors Questionnaire (16PF) was created in connection with Cattell's personality theory. EITHER16PFis a personality test used by individuals, psychologists, and mental health organizations to assess patients. Unlike personality tests, which explicitly ask the respondent about their personality traits, the 16PF asks about specific situations and their reaction to those situations.

the big five

Despite his scientific and mathematical expertise, Cattell's theory of personality has its criticisms. Most of the criticism relates to the fact that the theory has never been fully replicated. Therefore, the reliability of the factor analysis calculations that shaped Cattell's theory of personality can be questioned. Cattell claimed this was because those trying to replicate his findings were not using his precise methodology.

Despite the difficulties of replication, it is undeniable that Cattell's theory of personality had a major impact on the field of personality within psychology. Cattell's 16 major factors were important in the later discovery of "Big Five"Personality Traits.

Just as Cattell sought to improve upon and refine the findings of his predecessors in the field of personality research, others have done so with Cattell's 16 Factors. The psychologists were able to take Cattell's theory of personality as a starting point and break it down into five personality traits that "define human personality." Cattell recognized these factors in his research as "global factors" that encompass many of the 16 factors. The Big Five personality traits are:

  • opening

  • conscientiousness

  • extroversion

    (Video) Cattell's trait theory of personality || Personality Psychology

  • friendliness

  • neuroticism

As with Cattell's original 16 factor theory of personality, the idea behind the Big Five isn't whether or not someone has those traits. Rather, everyone is believed to have these qualities, but to varying degrees. Your placement in the range for each of the five traits can be a good indicator of how you react in different situations. Today, the Big Five personality test is more common than the original 16PF questionnaire.

liquid andCrystalized Intelligence

The personality theory is not the only contribution by Cattell still in use today. In addition to his 16 factors, Cattell is also credited with distinguishing themliquid and crystallized intelligence.

When Raymond Cattell introduced the concepts of liquid and crystallized intelligence in 1963, he was the first to officially distinguish between two different types of intelligence.

Fluid intelligence refers to logical thinking and decision-making skills on the ground. It can be helpful to solve problems and recognize patterns. Fluid intelligence can be viewed as similar to what many people say when referring to someone with "street intelligence".

Crystalized intelligence, on the other hand, may be closer to what people call "book intelligence." It is about the ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned. For example, applying a mathematical theory to solve an equation requires crystallized intelligence. Learning new words and incorporating them into your general vocabulary is also an example of crystallized intelligence in action.

Although the two types of intelligence may appear independent, they are related. Interestingly, while crystallized intelligence may not affect a person's fluid intelligence, high levels of fluid intelligence can have a positive impact on crystallized intelligence. Today, most intelligence tests focus on both types of intelligence, although you can do individual tests for each type.

The Legacy of Raymond Cattell

Cattell has had a lasting impact on the field of psychology, particularly with regard to personality theory. Today, employers often use the Big Five personality tests to screen potential employees. Fig. 5 tests are considered an excellent way to determine a person's suitability for a particular position or career.

Alongside employers, psychologists regularly administer the Big Five test to clients to help them discover their strengths. The test can also help people understand why they react the way they do in situations and the characteristics behind their behavior. If you are interested in it, you can mention it with aAdvisor. They can help you sort the results and figure out how you can use the results to improve your life.

Cattell died in 1998 with around 8,900 scholarly citations to his name. Twenty years later, psychologists are still using his work on human personality. For example,a dissertation in 2018(PDF download) found evidence that their 16PF taxonomy accurately predicted marital satisfaction. If you're concerned about compatibility in a relationship, a licensed therapist can use the 16PF or a Big Five personality assessment.

If you have questions about yourself or your partner's personality, online therapy can provide answers and treatment.online therapyproved to be as effective as face-to-face therapy. Withbetter help, you can have therapy online without leaving your home and you can communicate with your therapist via in-app messages. Read what others have to say about their experiences with online therapy.

“Stella can listen to me very well! She never makes me feel judged, even though it sounds like some of my most anxious thoughts. He also understood my personality and what works for me and gave me strategies to help me function better in life.”

(Video) Trait Theories (Allport's Traits Theory, Cattell'sTraits Theory & Eysenck's Traits Theory)


Although Raymond Cattell did not work as a therapist, his discoveries about personality impacted the lives of many. If you have questions about personality traits and their implications, an online therapist can help you assess your own traits. Get in touch today to be matched with alicensed therapist.


1. PSY405|| Lecture # 28 & 29 || Factor Analytic TraitTheory || Raymond Cattell
(Cut it Short by Iqra)
2. Cattell Trait Theory
(Quick Psychology)
(Ch 04: SAARASWAT [Social Science-II])
4. Personality Chapter 8 (Cattell, etc.) Lecture Part 2
(Fredy Aviles)
5. Trait Theory - History of Personality Psychology
(Practical Psychology)
(Esense of Lyf)


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