California Psychological Inventory (CPI)


(a.k.a, California Psychological Inventory; CPI).

Description of Measure:

A 472-item measure of personality (revised versions are shorter) designed to assess mentally healthy individuals’ personality characteristics. Each item is answered as either “True” or “False”. About 50% of the items from the CPI were taken directly from the MMPI (Hathaway & McKinley, 1943).

The CPI is divided into the following scales:

Dominance 36 items Good Impression 40 items
Capacity for Status 28 items Communality 38 items
Sociability 32 items Well-Being 38 items
Social Presence 38 items Tolerance 32 items
Self Acceptance 28 items Achievement via 38 items
Independence 30 items Conformance  
Empathy 38 items Achievement via 36 items
Responsibility 36 items Independence  
Socialization 46 items Intellectual Efficiency 42 items
Self Control 38 items Psychological 28 items

Female/Male                32 items              Mindedness

Flexibility                     28 items The entire test takes approximately 50-60 minutes to finish.

Abstracts of Selected Related Articles:

McCrae, R. R., Costa, P. T., & Piedmont, R. L. (1993). Folk concepts, natural language, and psychological constructs: The California Psychological Inventory and the Five-Factor Model. Journal of Personality, 61, 1-26.

Both the California Psychological Inventory (CPI; Gough, 1987) and the five-factor model of personality have roots in folk concepts of personality. The present article offers a conceptual analysis of CPI scales in terms of the five-factor model. In the first study, judges rated the item content of CPI scales in terms of the five factors. In the second, CPI scales were correlated with the factors as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI; Costa & McCrae, 1985b) in a sample of 348 men and women ages 19 to 92. Both studies showed meaningful links between CPI scales and four of the factors; Agreeableness appeared to be underrepresented in CPI scales. The utility of systematic rational item analysis in terms of the five factors and the evolving relation of folk concepts to psychological constructs are discussed.

Craik, K. H. (1986). Personality research methods: An historical perspective. Journal of Personality, 54, 18-51.

Personality research methods are examined from a historical perspective, beginning with a review of scholarly resources. Five historical periods in personality research are demarcated: the pre-identity era, the pre-WWII era, the post-WWII era, the contemporary era, & the current situation. Three types in the historical development of methodologies are identified: laboratory methods, observer judgments, personality scales, & projective techniques illustrate continued development; biographical/archival methods & field studies illustrate interrupted methods; & reputational analysis using naturalistic observational assessment illustrates arrested development. Recommendations for promoting integrative methodological pluralism in research planning, institutional arrangements, & graduate training are made.

Loehlin, J. C. (1982). Are personality traits differentially heritable? Behavioral Genetics, 12, 417-428.

Two existing bodies of data were examined using model-fitting procedures. The very large Swedish twin study showed evidence of differences in heritability for the sexes and for three birth cohorts, but not for the two personality scales in the study—Swedish versions of Eysenck’s Extraversion and Neuroticism Scales. Using the data of the National Merit twin sample, seven orthogonal factor scales were derived from the California Psychological Inventory item pool. Statistically significant differences were found across the seven scales, for both heritability and the effects of common family environment. It was concluded that differences in the heritability of personality scales may be found if one extends the search to lesser personality dimensions independent of Extraversion and Neuroticism, and it was suggested that earlier difficulties in demonstrating differential heritability may have resulted from the pervasive influence of the two major factors on the scales of typical personality inventories.


The CPI is available for purchase.


Gough, H. G. (1951). The California Psychological Inventory. Berkeley, California: The University of California Press.