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Is Basically Just a Big 5 Test?

This article will compare and contrast the items from the 16p test with the items from the NEO and BFAS tests. There is no resource available for the allocation of the test items so guesswork combined with the 16p descriptions of each trait will be used to map each item to each "aspect".

I/E (Extraversion, "Mind")

Introverted (low E)

Description: "Introverted individuals prefer solitary activities and get exhausted by social interaction. They tend to be quite sensitive to external stimulation (e.g. sound, sight or smell) in general."

Items: Reluctant to meet new people. Avoid leadership roles in group settings. Try not to draw attention to themselves. Avoid making phone calls. Prefer solitary work.

Extraverted (high E)

Description: "Extraverted individuals prefer group activities and get energized by social interaction. They tend to be more enthusiastic and more easily excited than Introverts."

Items: Regularly make new friends. Strike up conversations with strangers. Enjoy group activities. Prefer company to solitude. Not fatigued by social interaction. Initiates social activities. Prefer busy places to quiet ones.

N/S (Openness, "Energy")

Observant (low O)

Description: "Observant individuals are highly practical, pragmatic and down-to-earth. They tend to have strong habits and focus on what is happening or has already happened."

Items: Uninterested in interpreting and analysing creative work. Not artistic. Bored by theoretical discussions. Do not ponder the "big questions". Uninterested in philosophy.

Intuitive (high O)

Description: "Intuitive individuals are very imaginative, open-minded and curious. They prefer novelty over stability and focus on hidden meanings and future possibilities."

Items: Interested in a wide variety of topics. Like books and movies that are open to interpretation. Ponder the "big questions". Like art museums. Interested in views that conflict with their own. Intrigued by controversy.

T/F (Agreeableness, "Nature")

Thinking (low A)

Description: "Thinking individuals focus on objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotions. They tend to hide their feelings and see efficiency as more important than cooperation."

Items: Follow their head rather than their heart. Value rationality over feelings. Find arguments interesting. Impatient with people who are inefficient. Struggle to understand the feelings of others.

Feeling (high A)

Description: "Feeling individuals are sensitive and emotionally expressive. They are more empathic and less competitive than Thinking types, and focus on social harmony and cooperation."

Items: Empathic. Sentimental. Happiest when helping others. Avoid making others look bad. Selfless.

J/P (Conscientiousness, "Tactics")

Judging (high C)

Description: "Judging individuals are decisive, thorough and highly organized. They value clarity, predictability and closure, preferring structure and planning to spontaneity."

Items: Make backup plans. Finish one project before starting another. Like schedules and lists. Complete chores promptly. Likes to "get back on track". Methodical.

Prospecting (low C)

Description: "Prospecting individuals are very good at improvising and spotting opportunities. They tend to be flexible, relaxed nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open."

Items: Don't rely on plans and routines. Do things at the last possible moment. Postpone making decisions. Spontaneous rather than consistent. Struggle with deadlines.

-T/-A (Neuroticism, "Identity")

Assertive (low N)

Description: "Assertive individuals are self-assured, even-tempered and resistant to stress. They refuse to worry too much and do not push themselves too hard when it comes to achieving goals."

Items: Stay calm under pressure. Not worried about making a good impression. Don't second guess themselves. Rarely feel insecure. Believe things will work themselves out.

Turbulent (high N)

Description: "Turbulent (-T) individuals are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They are likely to experience a wide range of emotions and to be success-driven, perfectionistic and eager to improve."

Items: Self-doubting. Worried about future misfortunes. Highly changeable moods. Worry about past mistakes. Feel that they are controlled by their emotions. Worry about how they are perceived. Often feel overwhelmed.

Does the test deviate from the big 5 in any conspicuous manner?

Most of the descriptions and items consist of concepts that are typical of the big 5. The one exception is Thinking. The references to being more oriented towards rationality and logic rather than feelings (this notion describes the majority of the test items for thinking) bear virtually no resemblance to low agreeableness. This feature is presumably derived more from the Myers-Briggs conception of Thinking than from any big 5 resource. The reference to thinkers valuing "efficiency" is likewise not a feature of either the NEO or BFAS.

What is missing from the NEO and the BFAS?

I/E: Half of the NEO extraversion facets (Activity level, Excitement seeking, Cheerfulness) are absent. Cheerfulness and activity level are featured in the BFAS but excitement seeking is not. Cheerfulness is the most prominent aspect of extraversion that is missing from the 16p test.

N/S: The NEO facet "imagination" is referred to in the 16p description of this aspect but isn't dealt with explicitly in any of the items. In the NEO or the BFAS there will be references to "daydreams" or "flights of fancy" but there's nothing like that here. The Emotionality facet of the NEO is located in T/F (references to empathy) instead of in N/S. However, this is the same with the BFAS, so 16p is closer to the BFAS in this regard. Adventurousness is referred to in the descriptions but does not feature in the items. Again, this is a manner in which the 16p test is closer to the BFAS. The same trend applies for Liberalism, which is yet again absent from 16p but also from the BFAS. Overall this "aspect" follows the BFAS fairly closely except for the absence of any clear reference to daydreams, fantasy etc.

T/F: Trust is missing here but is also missing from the BFAS. Morality ("taking advantage of others"), modesty ("think they are superior") and cooperation ("Don't want to be pushy") occur in the NEO and BFAS but not here. If we consider these three missing facets and pair that with the unorthodox inclusion of "rationality" and "efficiency" then it would appear that this "aspect" makes a rather poor proxy for big 5 agreeableness.

J/P: Self Efficacy (self-assured) is featured in the NEO and the BFAS but not here. Dutifulness is not mentioned here but only features in the BFAS in a very minor way. This aspect is not too different from the conventional big 5 version of conscientiousness.

-T/-A: Anger and Depression are totally absent despite being central to NEO and BFAS Neuroticism. Immoderation is absent but this facet doesn't feature in the BFAS either. Removing all references to anger and depression make this "aspect" almost unrecognisable.

Why have they changed the big 5?

Let's recap the changes that have been made:

I/E: Cheerfulness is missing.
N/S: Imagination is missing.
T/F: "Rationality" and "Efficiency" were added (to Thinking). Morality, Modesty and Cooperation are missing.
J/P: Self-Efficacy is missing.
-T/-A: Anger and Depression are missing.

What do these facets have in common? You may note that most, if not all of them are facets that tend to have a value judgment attached to them. Consider some of the items associated with these missing facets.

Not fond of joking around (low cheerfulness). Manipulative (low morality). Think they are better than others (low modesty). Vengeful (low cooperation). Ill-tempered (High anger). Dislike themselves (High depression).

Not all the missing facets have obviously negative connotations. The test is a mere 60 items long. That's half the length of the NEO test hosted by It is reasonable to assume that some of these facets are absent for reasons of concision. However, it seems clear that the majority of the changes made to this test were done with the intent of removing the more negative elements of the big 5, presumably in order to give test takers a result that feels "balanced", perhaps even "flattering". Note, for example, the elements that were added to agreeableness: Rationality and Efficiency. Low agreeableness is arguably the big 5 trait with the strongest negative connotations. If we remove these references to rationality and efficiency then the only indicators for low agreeableness left over are "struggles to understand the feelings of others", along with the inverse of the indicators of high agreeableness, i.e. not empathic, not selfless, not interested in helping others.

When we consider these changes as a whole it seems clear that the lion share of the changes serve to take the 2 most culturally biased traits (agreeableness and neuroticism) and reconfigure them so that they give a more balanced and flattering account of the test subjects, regardless of what result they receive.


This article has compared the 16p test to what are probably the 2 most common versions of the big 5; the BFAS and NEO. Some of the 16p traits are very similar to the other big 5 tests. It is reasonable to suggest that I/E (extraversion), N/S (openness) and J/P (conscientiousness) are similar enough to their big 5 equivalents that a 16p test result could be taken as a good proxy for a proper big 5 test, in regard to those traits.

However, Anger and Depression are the 2 most conspicuous elements of big 5 neuroticism and are entirely absent from this test. Likewise, Agreeableness (T/F) has been abbreviated and reconfigured to the point where it scarcely resembles the big 5 version. The big five has been redesigned to the point where it no longer provides a sound assessment of an individual's personality, at least for 2 out of the 5 traits.

So is 16p a proper big 5 test? For O, C and E: yes. For A and N: no.

NEO Facets Key (
BFAS Scoring Keys
16Personalities - Theory/Our Framework

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