A General & Powerful System for Assessing Temperament & Personality
Software for the PAD Temperament Scales
Details of the PAD Temperament Model and tests are given in the following paragraphs; however, it is important to first mention that software for administering, scoring, and interpreting the PAD Temperament Scales (Trait Pleasure, Trait Arousability, Trait Dominance) is now available and greatly simplifies administration, scoring, and interpretation of scores with these three scales. It runs on IBM compatible machines and, for each of the scales, provides (a) a total score, an
equivalent percentile score, an equivalent z-score, and interpretation of scores for each person tested
and (b) a database of scores for all individuals tested. The software also supplies scores for each of
the eight temperament types listed below (e.g., exuberant, bored, anxious). It is easy to use and is password protected so that the Administrator can control access to the database
of results. In this way, individuals being tested cannot have access to the results, unless the
Administrator chooses to report such results to them.
Comparison of the PAD Temperament Model with the Big Five
Mehrabian (1996) reported studies comparing the PAD with the Big Five.
The PAD Temperament Model and Tests
A key article by Mehrabian (1996) contains the theoretical rationale plus a review of evidence on the PAD Temperament Model. The PAD Temperament Model is a very general descriptive system for the
study of temperament and personality. The model is based on evidence
showing that the following three nearly independent dimensions provide a
general description of emotional states: pleasure-displeasure (P),
arousal-nonarousal (A), and dominance-submissiveness (D).
"Pleasure-displeasure" distinguishes positive versus negative emotional
states, "arousal-nonarousal" refers to a combination of physical
activity and mental alertness, and "dominance- submissiveness" is
defined in terms of control versus lack of control (Mehrabian, 1995a).
Within this descriptive system, experimental findings have shown, for
instance, that, "angry" is a highly unpleasant, highly aroused, and
moderately dominant emotional state. "Sleepy" consists of a moderately
pleasant, extremely unaroused, and moderately submissive state, whereas
"bored" is composed of highly unpleasant, highly unaroused, and
moderately submissive components (Mehrabian, 1995a).
"Temperament" is distinguished from emotional states in that it refers
to an individual's stable or lasting emotional characteristics (i.e.,
emotional traits or emotional predispositions). More precisely,
temperament is an average of a person's emotional states across a
representative variety of life situations. A set of three PAD
temperament scales has been developed and shown to provide a reasonably
general description of emotional traits or temperament (Mehrabian, 1987,
1991, 1995b, 1996).
The three basic dimensions of temperament in the PAD Model are Trait
Pleasure-displeasure, Trait Arousability, and Trait
Dominance-submissiveness. The relative predominance, across situations
and over time, of a person's positive affective states over negative
ones defines that person's Trait Pleasure-displeasure. Trait
Arousability refers to the strength of an individual's arousal reactions
to high-information (i.e., unusual, complex, or changing) situations.
Stated somewhat imprisely, but simply, arousability indexes the strength
of a person's emotional reactions to both positive and negative
situations. Trait Dominance is defined in terms of characteristic
feelings of control and influence over one's affairs and surroundings
versus typical feelings of being influenced and controlled by situations
A three-dimensional temperament space is defined by the three nearly
independent PAD temperament traits. Various personality dimensions
and/or measures are straight lines passing through the
intersection-point of the three axes. Description of various personality
scales is facilitated by dichotomizing each of the three
temperament-space axes, as follows: +P and -P for pleasant and
unpleasant, +A and -A for arousable and unarousable, and +D and -D for
dominant and submissive, temperament, respectively.
The following labels were used to describe the resulting octants of
temperament space (Mehrabian, 1987, 1991):
Extroverted, arousal seeking, exhibitionistic, nurturing, and
affiliative persons are exuberant (i.e., pleasant, arousable, dominant).
They differ, however, in terms of the weights of Trait Pleasure (P),
Trait Arousability (A), and Trait Dominance (D) associated with each.
Dependent persons are pleasant, arousable, and submissive. Anxious or
neurotic persons are unpleasant, arousable, and submissive, whereas
aggressive persons are unpleasant, arousable, and dominant (e.g.,
Mehrabian & O'Reilly, 1980; Mehrabian, 1995b). Mehrabian (1996)
provided equations showing relationships of specific personality
measures to the PAD temperament dimensions.
- Exuberant (+P+A+D) vs. Bored (-P-A-D)
- Dependent (+P+A-D) vs. Disdainful (-P-A+D)
- Relaxed (+P-A+D) vs. Anxious (-P+A-D)
- Docile (+P-A-D) vs. Hostile (-P+A+D)
Comparison of the PAD Temperament Model with the Big Five
The Big-five personality factors were investigated using the Trait Pleasure-Arousability-Dominance (PAD) Temperament Model to assess overlap, and, specifically, similarities and differences, among the five dimensions. Results showed that Extraverts were primarily dominant and secondarily pleasant (Mehrabian, 1996). Agreeableness resembled dependency with pleasant, arousable, and submissive characteristics, but involved greater pleasantness. Conscientiousness included equal degrees of pleasant and dominant qualities. Emotional Stability involved almost equal degrees of pleasant and unarousable characteristics, lacking the important dominant feature in this trait. Sophistication was weighted primarily by dominant, and secondarily by arousable, characteristics. The PAD scales explained approximately 75% of the reliable variance in three of the factors (Extraversion, Emotional Stability, Agreeableness) that have been identified, albeit sometimes with differing labels, in alternative general approaches to personality description. PAD components of the Big-five factors helped explain the substantial overlap among the factors.
The PAD Temperament Scales
The PAD Temperament Model and its scales and equations are intended
primarily for experimental use. In the event they are used in clinical
or applied settings, it is strongly advisable that findings based on the
scales and formulas be checked against additional data from alternative
tests and interview materials.
- Administration: does not require tester to be present; can be used with individuals or groups
- Test format: semantic differential format (for Trait Pleasure) and questionnaire (for Trait Arousability and Trait Dominance)
- Appropriate population: English fluency, ages 15 and older
- Time required for administration: approximately 20 minutes
- Scoring: hand scoring yields three total-scale scores; with software, scoring is automated and many additional scores are make available in an organized form
- Manual: includes equations for computing various personality characteristics plus all three PAD scales,
scoring directions, and norms
- Background literature: includes background articles on the PAD Temperament Model (Mehrabian, 1991, 1995b, 1996)
- Possible uses: for experimental research and hypothesis testing in applied situations.
- Validity data: Experimental data bearing on validity of the PAD Temperament Model are reviewed in the articles listed in the references section below.
More details on the PAD Temperament Model are given in the
Mehrabian, A. (1987). Eating characteristics and temperament:
General measures and interrelationships. Springer-Verlag, New York.
Mehrabian, A. (1991). Outline of a general emotion-based theory of
temperament. In J. Strelau and A. Angleitner (Eds.), Explorations in
temperament: International perspectives on theory and measurement
(pp. 75-86). Plenum Press, New York.
Mehrabian, A. (1995a). Framework for a comprehensive description and
measurement of emotional states. Genetic, Social, and General
Psychology Monographs, vol. 121, pp. 339-361.
Mehrabian, A. (1995b). Relationships among three general approaches to
personality description. Journal of Psychology, vol. 129, pp.
Mehrabian, A. (1996). Pleasure-arousal-dominance: A general
framework for describing and measuring individual differences in
temperament. Current Psychology, vol. 14, pp. 261-292.
Mehrabian, A., & O'Reilly, E. (1980). Analysis of personality measures
in terms of basic dimensions of temperament. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, vol. 38, pp. 492-503.
Mehrabian, A. (2000). Beyond IQ: Broad-based measurement of individual
success potential or "emotional intelligence." Genetic, Social, and
General Psychology Monographs, 126, 133-239.