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Psychological structure of the personality according to Cattell: model of the 16 factors.

personalidad cattell

Raymond Cattell (1905-1998) defines the personality like that that says us what a person will do when it find  in a determinate situation. The basic structural element of the personality is the shot, that involves reactive tendencies generals and does reference to characteristics relatively permanent.

In accordance with his origin, the shots can be constitutional or environmental. In function of his content, can divide  in shots of capacity or aptitudinales (resources to solve problems), of personality or temperamentales (peculiar form of behaviour of each person or stylistic tendencies) and dynamic shots (related with the motivation or cause of the behaviour).

Types of Shots.

In accordance with the rank of application, distinguishes between common or applicable shots to all the individuals, and specific, exclusive of a person, although his work centres  in the common. Finally, in function of his significance, can find us with:

  • Shots superficiales: they do reference to behaviours that appear joined to superficial level but that really no covarían jointly neither have a common causal root.
  • Shots source or deep: determined by behaviours that covarían jointly, so that they constitute a dimension of unitary and independent personality. The sphere of the personality would remain constituted by these shots.

Lexical criterion

To determine empirically which were the fundamental shots of the personality, Cattell. It split of the analysis of the language, using what knows  like lexical criterion. It was against of the utilisation of terms of common use in the language (as sociable, responsible, etc.) to designate to the structural elements or shots. It proposed the utilisation of a new consistent nomenclature in using the letters of the alphabet (To, B, C,…) or universal indexes, followed of a number, or Greek terms, or neologisms formed by the first syllables of the words used in the description of these shots.

  • It distinguished three types of data:
    • Data L: they do reference to ordinary facts of the real life that are contrastables.
    • Data Q: they proceed of questionnaires, are therefore data informed by the person.
    • Data T: they do reference to proofs in which the person evaluated is not conscious of the existent relation between his answer and the characteristic of personality that pretends  measure (are the preferred of C.).

The structure of the personality: 16 factors of the personality according to Cattell

The terms of the language could classify  in four different categories:

  • Shots or terms that express a consistent and stable tendency of behaviour.
  • States of temporary spirit.
  • Terms that do reference to the effect that the behaviour of the subject has on others.
  • A mixed category.

Of the 16 factors found, pertinent of the data Q, 12 coincided with the obtained previously with the data L (To, B, C, And, F, G, H, I, L, M, N and Or) and 4 were exclusive with the data Q (designated with the letter Q and subscripts of the 1 to the 4).


Shot Low punctuations High punctuations
To Sizia Or sizotimia (reserved, solitary, critic, independent) Affectia Or afectotimia (open, participatory, warm, easy)
B Low intelligence (clumsy) High intelligence (smart)
C Little strength of the I (unstable emotional) A lot of strength of the I (stable and mature)
And Submission Dominancia
F Desurgencia (Serious, taciturno, pessimistic, introspective) Surgencia (Cheerful, enthusiastic, sociable, forceful, hablador)
G Little strength of the super I A lot of strength of the super I
H Trectia (Shy, susceptible, autocontenido) Parmia (Brave, risky)
I Harria (Hard, asertivo, realistic, autosuficiente) Premsia (Delicate, impatient, imaginative, anxious)
L Alaxia (Unsuspecting, adaptable to the circumstances) Protensión (suspicaz, desconfiado, jealous)
M Praxernia (Practical, realistic, conventional, logical) Autia (Imaginative, bohemio, demanding, no conventional)
N Simplicity Cunning
Or Imperturbable Culpability
Q1 Conservatism Radicalism
Q2 Adhesion to the group Autosuficiencia
Q3 Low integration of feelings A lot of control of his autoimagen
Q4 Little tension érgica (relaxed, no frustrated) A lot of tension érgica (taut, frustrated)



Cattell Speaks of dynamic shots to do reference to the questions of the causes or reasons of the behaviour. The dynamic shots divides them in attitudes, feelings and ergios. The basic unit is the attitude, that expresses the strength of the interest for doing a course of action in particular.

For averiguar the components of the attitudes analysed  factorialmente the pertinent punctuations of distinct measurements of an only attitude, and in the different studies obtained  five factors components:

  • Factor alpha or This conscious: it does reference to the research of satisfaction without considering the possible consequences.
  • Factor beta or Expression of the I: it refers  to a mature interest in contact with the reality, as well as to the interests purchased by the habits and the obligations. It represents the strength of the conscious interest and knowingly developed.
  • Factor gamma or Súper I: it does allusion to an I would have to be interested.
  • Factor delta or This unaware: it includes the answers motivated of physiological nature in front of the stimuli related with the interest.
  • Factor épsilon or unaware Conflict: it refers  to the repressed and unaware fact because of the conflict.

The factorial analysis of second order of these five components discovered that they are related, by what could reduce  to two components, one integrated or conscious (I and Súper I) and another no integrated or unaware (This, physiological expressions and complexes repressed).

The ergios do reference to the factors that reflect innate biological impulses, whereas the feelings do allusion to those that are determined by the environment, purchased fundamentally through the family and the school.

An ergio is an innate impulse, that  active by environmental stimuli and that ceases when it put it attains . The feelings are complex attitudes that incorporate interests, opinions and lower attitudes; they are environmental shots.

The dynamic shots organise  of complex way forming an entramado dynamic. It enters the concept of subsidiación to explain the process whereby some dynamic shots are subsidiary or dependent of other shots. Like this, the feelings depend on the ergios, and the attitudes depend on the feelings.

The entramado dynamic describes a complicated network of interrelationships between interests, attitudes, feelings and put érgicas and can change like result of emotional states like fatigue, fault, anxiety or depression, or by changes in the environment.

Model econético.

This model represents the effort of Cattell for remedying the problem of the that suffers from systematically the psychology of the shots, to the not taking into account to the situation in the prediction of the behaviour and base exclusively in the shots.

It expresses the different elements that considers important for the prediction of the behaviour in the equation of specification, that specifies the way in that shots and situations combine  to predict the behaviour. The answer of the subject in a situation given, that is what want to predict, is determined by the combination ponderada of:

  • Shots source of the person.
  • States and roles of the person.
  • The cultural and social meanings of the situation for the person.
  • The combination ponderada of any another factor that have not specified .

Questionnaire of personality of cattell.

The work of Cattell is very tied to the development of one of the proofs of evaluation of the most known personality and used, the 16PF, since it employs  so much in investigation as in the labour field and the clinical.



Cattell, R.B.; Cattell, To,K., Cattell, H.And.P. (1995). 16 PF-5. Factorial questionnaire of Personality. TEA editions.


Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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