History of the CPI 260® Instrument

The goal of the CPI 260® instrument, which is derived from the full 434-item California Psychological Inventory (CPI) instrument, is to give a true-to-life description of the respondent in clear, everyday language (Gough & Bradley, 2005). The CPI 260® instrument measures 29 distinct psychological constructs grouped into 6 scale categories:

  • 7 Dealing with Others scales, focusing on the manner in which social participation is expressed
  • 7 Self-management scales, assessing self-discipline and acceptance of societal rules
  • 3 Motivations and Thinking Style scales
  • 3 Personal Characteristics scales
  • 6 Work-Related Measures scales, assessing disposition at work
  • 3 High-Order Measures scales, assessing personal orientations

The attributes of the CPI 260® instrument come from the language of everyday life, more specifically from what may be called “folk concepts” (Gough & Bradley, 2005). A folk concept is a construct about personality that all people everywhere use to comprehend their behaviour and the behaviour of others. The CPI 260® instrument was designed to assess a sufficient number of folk concepts so that any consequential, recurring form of interpersonal behaviour can be forecast, either from a single scale or from a combination of scales.

The scales of the CPI 260® instrument were developed empirically - that is, scale items were selected on the basis of associations with external or nontest specifications of the attribute to be assessed. This method emphasises validity over reliability and was used to design scales capable of predicting important criteria such as managerial performance and a worker’s dependability.

As discussed in the manuals for the 434-item inventory (Gough & Bradley, 2002; Gough & Cook, 1996), abundant empirical and theoretical source material exists for the CPI instrument, which enjoys more than 50 years of usage, translations and study in more than 40 languages, and a bibliography of approximately 2,000 titles. Because of the very strong correlations between CPI 260® scales and their corresponding measures on the 434-item CPI instrument, data found in the CPI Manual and research literature can be safely applied to interpretation of the CPI 260® scales. The CPI Manual reports internal consistency (alpha) coefficients for the CPI 260® instrument scales based on a random sample of 3,000 males and 3,000 females, ranging from .54 to .86 with a median of .75. Test-retest correlations for high school students over a one-year interval range from .52 to .73 with a median of .66. Test-retest correlations for adults over a 10-year interval range from .49 to .85 with a median of .77.


Gough, H. G. & Cook, M. (1996). CPI434 manual. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.

Gough, H. G. & Bradley, P. (1996/2002). CPI manual (3rd ed.). Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Gough, H. G. & Bradley, P. (2005). CPI 260® Manual. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.