Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Cattell's 16 Personality Factors for writers

If you've checked into schemes that categorize personalities, most sort them into good and bad extremes. It takes some imagination to add depth and nuances.

Raymond Cattell sorted personality words into more or less of a factor. Which, even if personality researchers ultimately reject it, is much easier to work with for writers!

Play around with the 16 factors until you find something you like. Look for connections, contrasts and conflicts. A cold empath? Enthusiastically absorbed by ideas? Uninhibited, self absorbed and careless of social rules?

Edit: I made a few changes in the order and added a few words. Now if you read across the top 4 in each category, it's a spectrum with 2 negative extremes on either end and 2 positive though opposite traits in the middle.

Randomize the 16 Personality Factors

















The 16 Personality Factors
Way too little
Less
More
Way too much
WARMTH
anti-socialconnected to selfconnected to othersintrusive
unkindreservedwarmsmothering
coldimpersonaloutgoingnosy
uninvolveddistantattentive to others

coolkindly
detachedeasy going
formalparticipating
alooflikes people
self-centeredsociable
ungenerousfriendly
socially inhibitedcompassionate
helpful
nurturing
EMOTIONAL STABILITY
obsessiveexcitablecalmunresponsive
frenziedemotionally reactiveemotionally stableemotionally shut down
hystericalaffected by feelingsmature
fickleemotionally less stablefaces reality
histrionic (dramatic)changeable moodsadaptive
easily upsetunsentimental
high strungimpartial
DOMINANCE
passivecooperativeassertivedomineering
dronedeferentialforcefuldictatorial
avoids conflictdominantantagonistic
submissiveaggressivevindictive
humblecompetitivevengeful
obedientstubbornunforgiving
easily ledbossyhostile
docilewillful
accommodating
subdued
compliant
agreeableness
LIVELINESS
apatheticprudentsparklyextravagant
humorlessrestrainedlivelyundependable

seriousanimatedwhirlwind
taciturnspontaneous
introspectiveenthusiastic
silenthappy go lucky
dourcheerful

expressive
energetic
passionate
indulgent
RULE CONSCIOUSNESS
lawlessimpulsivedependablerule bound
nihilistnonconformingrule-consciousmoralistic
anarchistdisregards rulesconscientiousjudgmental
dishonestself indulgentconformingcritical
manipulativedisobedientstaid
unrestrainedself-controlled
expedientdutiful
responsible
SOCIAL BOLDNESS
inhibitedmodestuninhibitedattention seeker
reclusivethreat-sensitivesocially boldblind to social cues
agoraphobictimidventuresomeself-aggrandizement
hesitantthick skinned
easily intimidatedcan take stress
shy
SENSITIVITY
insensitiveobjectivesensitivehypersensitive
utilitarianaestheticmanic
unsentimentalsentimental
tough mindedtender minded (tender hearted)
self-reliantintuitive
no-nonsenserefined
roughempathetic
resolutereceptive
determinedhistrionic
open-minded
VIGILANCE
gullibletrustingskepticalprejudiced
naiveunsuspectingvigilantcynical
acceptingsuspiciousbiased
unconditionaldistrustful
easyoppositional
uncooperative
ABSTRACTEDNESS
unimaginativepracticalimaginativeout of touch with reality
groundedabstracted
prosaicabsent minded
solution orientedimpractical
steadyabsorbed in ideas
straightforwardidealistic
PRIVATENESS
gossipforthrightdiscreetsecretive
blabbermouthindiscreetprivate
artlessnon-disclosing
openshrewd
guilelesspolished
unpretentiousworldly
involvedastute
genuinediplomatic
APPREHENSION
arrogantconfidentconcernedfear-bound

unworriedapprehensive
complacentself doubting
secureworrying
free of guiltguilt prone
self-assuredinsecure
self satisfiedself blaming
self confidentnervous
OPENNESS TO CHANGE
close mindedtraditionalfree thinkingnovelty seeker
fear of the unknownattached to familiarexperimentingsensation seeker
dogmaticconservativeliberal
respecting traditional ideasanalytical
consistentcritical (evaluating not censorious)
cautiousopen to change
conventionalflexible
pessimisticoptimistic
predictableinventive
seeker of answersasker of questions
unpredictable
surprising
curious
self-transcendent (seeing self as an integral part of the universe)
adventurous
SELF-RELIANCE
leechgroup-orientedself-relianttightfisted 
self-sacrificingaffiliativesolitaryloner
people pleasinga joiner and followerresourcefulselfish
narcissisticdependentindividualisticgreedy
extrovert (gets recharged being with others)self sufficientrude
accommodatingintrovert (needs alone time to recharge)
selflessindependent
generousself-interested
self-monitoringself-focused
other-focused
altruistic
humble (modest)
considerate
tolerant
PERFECTIONISM
obliviousflexibleperfectionistobsessive
chaoticbig picture orientedorganizedhoarder
tolerates disordercompulsiveworkaholic
undisciplinedself-disciplinedhyper-focused on flaws
laxsocially precise
self-conflictexacting will power
careless of social rulescontrolled
uncontrolledself-sentimental
seeker of 'good enough'careful
focused on what's workingdeliberation
unexactingpersistence
simplicity
thorough
seeker of 'the best'
goal oriented
success oriented
efficient
focused on what's not working
TENSION
apatheticrelaxedtenseoverwrought
indolentType BType A
listlessplacidhigh energy
torpidtranquilimpatient

patientdriven
composedfrustrated
low drivehigh drive
easy goingtime driven
low anxietyhigh anxiety
relaxedtense
imperturbableperturbable
well-adjusted
REASONING
concrete thinkingabstract-thinking
lower mental capacitymore intelligent
less intelligentbright
slow learnerhigher mental capacity
fast learner


I made some changes to Cattell's list. I suspect some words have shifted meanings since Cattell listed them, such as, critical meant evaluating but is now commonly used to mean condemning. So, I added a few words, removed a couple, and moved one. I listed his "5 Global Factors" under the categories where they seemed to best fit with the 16. (They're global because Cattell felt they fit several categories.)

The "way too" words in the columns to left and right I added. These aren't traits people are born with. Environment or life events warped the person in these directions. These are also where characters have the potential for the most (story) growth.

HISTORY: Back in the 1930s Gordon Allport collected 17,953 personality words -- by scanning through the dictionary! He whittled them down to 4505. Cattell whittled them further to 171 then categorized them.
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