Ami Kunimura,  Geneviève Marcellino, Jacqueline Thomas, Jaime Vannote

Psych 542



Summary and Review of the NEO-PI-R Personality Test



The NEO-PI-R was designed to provide a general description of normal personality relevant to clinical, counseling and educational situations.  Based on the Five-Factor model of personality, the NEO-PI-R is comprised of 243 items; the 240 facet and domain items are rated on a 5-point scale (3 validity items are also included).  The test may usually be completed within 45 minutes.  NEO-PI-R items and materials were designed to be easily read and understood.  The manual includes information on administration, scoring, interpretation, test development and validation, as well as norms for college students and adults.  The purpose of the test is to establish an accurate assessment of a client's personality using the five facets of personality.  The five domains (factors) measured by the NEO-PI-R provide a general description of personality, while the facet scales allow more detailed analysis.  These five factors and their facet scales include: NEUROTICISM: Anxiety, Hostility, Depression, Self-Consciousness, Impulsiveness, Vulnerability; EXTRAVERSION: Warmth, Gregariousness, Activity, Excitement-Seeking, Positive Emotions; OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE: Fantasy, Aesthetics, Feelings, Actions, Ideas, Values; AGREEABLENESS: Trust, Modesty, Compliance, Altruism, Straightforwardness, Tender-Mindedness; CONSCIENTIOUSNESS: Competence, Self-Discipline, Achievement, Deliberation, Dutifulness, Order. 

Factor analysis, which discovers personality traits through data analysis, let data tell us what personality traits there are, which items on a test tend to correlate, sorts items together that all measure the same trait, and assess the agreeability between people which correlate more than others. 

The test was constructed by many researchers in the 1950’s and 1960’s who used an adjective list developed by Cattell in their studies on personality.  There were about 17,953 adjectives originally defined by Allport and Odbert.  When all of the ratings were analyzed in the studies, five “clumps” of adjectives emerged.  The NEO is based on the Five-Factor Model of personality established by Goldberg. 

The test is designed to be used in many circumstances.  Mental health care fields have dramatically changed in the past twenty years.  Therapy used to be more personable and very time consuming – now the average person only attends for six months.  Due to insurance companies demanding therapists to get results in less amount of time, personality tests have taken the place of the time therapists use to take to get to know their clients.  The test provides a sound method for measuring the degree in change of a client after therapy.  It clinically provides clear evidence about the psychological state of the client, which helps the clinician to understand the problems of a client. 

The first domain of the NEO-PI is Neuroticism, and it assesses adjustment vs. emotional instability (Leong & Dollinger, 1991).  A high score in Neuroticism does not mean a person is neurotic; this person could simply be very emotional.  The six subscales of Neuroticism are (from Costa & McCrae, 1985): anxiety, hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness, and vulnerability. 

The second domain is Extraversion, and it assesses the how often and how intense interpersonal interactions are.  The six subscales include: warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement-seeking, and positive emotions (Costa & McCrae, 1988).  High scores are not intended as a means to group people as an extravert versus as an introvert.

The third domain, often called Openness, is actually labeled Openness to Experience.  This is an assessment of behavior, which affects how one sees new and strange experiences.  In addition, it is an assessment of toleration for these experiences.  The six subscales are: fantasy (imaginative vs. realistic), aesthetics (sensitive vs. insensitive to art and beauty), feelings (empathetic towards surroundings vs. insensitive to surroundings), actions (seeks variety vs. preference of the familiar), ideas (intellectually curious vs. factually orientated), and values (broadminded and tolerant vs. dogmatic and conforming) (Leong & Dollinger, 1991). 

Agreeableness is the fourth domain.  These facets include trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, and tender-mindedness (Costa &McCrae, 1992). 

The fifth domain, Conscientiousness, includes the facets: competence, order, dutifulness, achievement striving, self-discipline, deliberation (Costa &McCrae, 1992). 

            The NEO-PI-R is known to be an inventory with high reliability. It has high internal consistency with coefficients that range from .86 to .95 for domain scales and .56 to .90 for facet scales.  In longitudinal studies of the NEO factors, stability coefficients of .51 to .83 were found.  This test has also been found to have higher validity than other personality inventories.

            The NEO-PI-R should be administered or available to individuals with a masters degree and have completed a course in psychological testing.  Administrators should have also been trained under the supervision of a psychologist.  The report should be interpreted within the current environment, which the test taker is living in.  It should also be interpreted with regard to other factors in that person’s life.  The results for the NEO are used for the test taker to get a better understanding of himself.  The test was designed to be a tool for growth where the test taker may be able to see where he or she can be more efficient or improve their current situation.  When interpreting results, strengths in one area may mean a weakness in another.

            Some strengths of the test is its use in matching people with occupations and identifying personality requirements for certain jobs.  In addition, some of the scales were based on research, and all of the scales are approached in a theoretical and rational way.  Factor analysis was used, however some researchers argue more studies on the validity of the test need to be done to show the factors measure the constructs accurately. 

Works Cited


Piedmont, R.L., (1998).  The Revised NEO Personality Inventory: Clinical and Research Applications.  Plenum Press, New York.