Adjective Check List


Authors: Harrison G. Gough & Alfred B. Heilbrun, Jr.

The Adjective Checklist (ACL) consists of 300 adjectives and adjectival phrases commonly used to describe a person’s personality. It may be administered to an individual to elicit a self-evaluation or a characterization of someone or something else.

The ACL is unique in that the number of items checked is unspecified so that adjectives selected are ones that are salient for the person being evaluated. The 37 original scales provide a powerful assessment of personality. For these scales, the standard scores are adjusted according to the number of items that are endorsed. Administration time varies from ten to fifteen minutes.

Two reports are available, The original 37 scale report and the Success Factors at Work (SFW) report. The SFW report presents results on 30 carefully chosen scales to assess 6 Work Success Factors, that is, collections of characteristics, skills, and competencies which over time have proven to be central and important to success at work. The six Work Success Factors are: Managing Self, Thinking and Deciding, Getting Things Done, Managing Work, Working with People and Leading People.

With key ACL scale results aligned under key factors for work success, perceived strengths and possible blind-spots at work for the client can readily be determined. Individual and Multi-rater versions of the SFW report are available.

Copyright © 1952, 1965, 1980, 1984, 2007 by Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

  • Buy It
  • Sample Items
  • Product Specs
  • Translations
  • ACL Research and Uses
  • Related Products
Showing 1 - 8 of 8 items
  • $50.00
    Includes details on reliability, validity, scoring, etc. and a review-only copy of the ACL form. PDFs are not refundable.
    In Stock
  • $15.00
    Builds a report that interprets an individual's ACL Original 37 Scale scores. You invite participants to take the survey and Transform™ generates their reports.
    In Stock
  • $15.00
    Builds a report that interprets an individual's ACL Success Factors at Work scores. You invite participants to take the survey and Transform™ generates their reports.
    In Stock
  • $20.00
    Interprets and reports on the ACL 37 original scale scores. You complete the survey and Transform™ generates your report. Transform will connect this report to the "Send To" email provided at checkout. Note: This product is for a single use, with automated survey administration. For multiple uses, buy instead the Individual Report product in quantity needed.
    In Stock
  • $20.00
    Interprets and reports on your ACL Success Factors at Work scores. You complete the survey and Transform™ generates your report. Transform will connect this report to the "Send To" email provided at checkout. Note: This product is for a single use, with automated survey administration. For multiple uses, buy instead the Individual Report product in quantity needed.
    In Stock
  • $2.50
    Minimum purchase of 20. Allows you to administer the ACL Original Scales as an online survey using Mind Garden's Transform™ System. Includes data collection: data file with participants' raw data and raw scale scores. Optionally, Individual Reports can be generated from the collected data - requires the purchase of report licenses. Customization services are available.
    In Stock
  • $2.50
    Minimum purchase of 50. Allows you to administer the ACL as an online survey via a non-Mind Garden survey system or as a paper and pencil survey. The downloadable PDF file includes one copy of the ACL, scoring key, and permission to administer the ACL up to the quantity purchased. The PDF is non-refundable.
    In Stock
  • $60.00
    Includes details on reliability, validity, scoring, etc. and a review-only copy of the ACL form. This is a paper product. The manual will be printed, bound, and shipped to you (FedEx shipping costs apply).
    In Stock

Features of the ACL

Purpose: assess psychological traits of an individual

Length: 300 adjectives 

Average completion time: 10-15 minutes

Target Population: High School and older

Administration: For individual or group administration

Norms: Education Level by Gender

Validation: Valid across cultures

Learn more about research and uses of the ACL

Uses of the ACL

  • Self-Evaluation
  • Clinical evaluation
  • Clinical research
  • Marketing research
  • Recording of cultural personality attributes


Original ACL Scales

The ACL offers a full sphere of psychological trait assessments. The Adjective Check List Standard Scales are:

Modus operandi: Four scales assessing ways in which the respondent has approached the task of describing self or others.

  • Number Checked: The total number of adjectives checked
  • Favorable: The number of socially desirable adjectives checked
  • Unfavorable: The number of unfavorable (socially undesirable) adjectives checked
  • Communality: Correspondence of responses to the pattern of checking typically found among people-in-general

Need scales: Fifteen scales assessing psychological needs or wants identified as important in Henry A. Murray’s need-press theory of personality.

  • Achievement: To strive to be outstanding in pursuits of socially recognized significance
  • Dominance: To seek and maintain a role as leader in groups, or to be influential and controlling in individual relationships
  • Endurance: To persist in any task undertaken
  • Order: To place special emphasis on neatness, organization, and planning in one's activities
  • Intraception: To engage in attempts to understand one's own behavior or the behavior of others
  • Nurturance: To engage in behaviors that provide material or emotional benefits to others
  • Affiliation: To seek and maintain numerous personal friendships
  • Heterosexuality: To seek the company of and derive emotional satisfaction from interactions with opposite-sex peers
  • Exhibition: To behave in such a way as to elicit the immediate attention of others
  • Autonomy: To act independently of others or of social values and expectations
  • Aggression: To engage in behaviors that attack or hurt others
  • Change: To seek novelty of experience and avoid routine
  • Succorance: To solicit sympathy, affection, or emotional support from others
  • Abasement: To express feelings of inferiority through self-criticism, guilt, or social impotence
  • Deference: To seek and maintain subordinate roles in relationships with others

Topical scales: Nine scales assessing a diverse set of attributes, potentialities, and role characteristics.

  • Counseling Readiness: Readiness to accept counseling or professional advice in regard to personal problems, psychological difficulties and the like
  • Self-Control: The extent to which self-control is imposed, and valued
  • Self-Confidence: Self-confidence, poise, and self-assurance
  • Personal Adjustment: Good adjustment in the sense of the ability to cope with situational and interpersonal demands, and a feeling of efficacy
  • Ideal Self: Strong sense of personal worth; or, harmony between what one is and what one wants to be
  • Creative Personality: The desire to do and think differently from the norm, and a talent for originality
  • Military Leader: Steadiness, self-discipline, and good judgment of the kind required in positions of military (or related) leadership
  • Masculine: Role-qualities such as ambition, assertiveness, and initiative associated with everyday notions of masculinity
  • Feminine: Role-qualities such as helpfulness, sympathy, and affection associated with everyday notions of femininity

Transactional Analysis scales: Five scales, an Egogram, assessing components of ego functioning from the Transactional Analysis (TA) theory of personality developed by Eric Berne.

  • Critical Parent: Attitudes of evaluation, severity, and skepticism associated with the concept of a "critical parent"
  • Nurturing Parent: Attitudes of support, stability, and acceptance associated with the concept of a "nurturing parent"
  • Adult: Attitudes of independence, objectivity, and industriousness associated with the concept of a "mature adult"
  • Free Child: Attitudes of playfulness, impulsivity, and self-centeredness associated with the concept of a "free" or very expressive child
  • Adapted Child: Attitudes of deference, conformity, and self-discipline associated with the concept of an "adapted" or very dutiful child

Origence-intellectence scales: Four scales assessing the balance between preferences for affective-emotional and rational-realistic modes of functioning from George Welsh’s structural dimensions of personality.

  • High Origence-Low Intellectence: Feelings and emotion (high origence) valued more highly than detachment and rationality (low intellectence). High scores suggest informality, vitality, and playfulness
  • High Origence-High Intellectence: High value place on both affect (origence) and rationality (intellectence). High scores suggest versatility, unconventionality, and individuality
  • Low Origence-Low Intellectence: No particular value placed on either origence or intellectence. High scores suggest contentment, conventionality, and optimism
  • Low Origence-High Intellectence: Rationality and analysis (intellectence) valued more highly than feelings and emotion (origence). High scores suggest logicality, industriousness, and cognitive clarity
Success Factors at Work Scales

The 6 Work Success Factors and Scales for each Factor presented in the reports are:

Managing Self

  • Self-control
  • Positive Attitude
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Self-esteem
  • Communality

Thinking and Deciding

  • Independence
  • Persistence
  • Risk Tolerance
  • Intuitive Mode
  • Analytic Mode

Getting Things Done

  • Achievement Drive
  • Initiative
  • Task Focus
  • Self-confidence
  • Originality

Managing Work

  • Order
  • Industriousness
  • Dutifulness
  • Self-determination
  • Efficacy

Working with People

  • Involvement
  • Patience
  • Acceptance
  • Nurturance
  • Trust

Leading People

  • Influence
  • Visibility
  • Competitiveness
  • Social Insight
  • Innovation

Available with ACL License to Administer:
These translations are available free of charge with your purchase of the license. Translations are provided in a separate pdf-format file. Select the language from the Translation drop-down list. Need multiple translations? Contact us.

  • Chinese-Cantonese
  • Chinese-Mandarin
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English--UK
  • Finnish
  • French
  • French--Canada
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Portuguese--Brazil
  • Spanish
  • Spanish--Argentina
  • Spanish--United States
  • Swedish
  • Thai - 330 items
  • Vietnamese

No translations are available with ACL Transform™ Survey Hosting

Note: We cannot assure translation quality — many are made by individual researchers and we are not necessarily familiar with the particular language or dialect. Some of the translations are partial and typically do not have validation data. Basically, we offer whatever is available to facilitate your work.

If you are unable to find the translation you need, you can request permission to make a translation

"The ACL offers several advantages. It is self-administering, may be completed in 10 to 15 minutes, arouses little resistance or anxiety, and has proved useful in studies of highly effective persons in occupations other than politics such as architecture, mathematics, law, medicine, and management.

"Further, as a multidimensional instrument, which taps several domains of personality, the ACL affords an appraisal of positive as well as negative factors in human behavior, thus avoiding the frequently found preoccupation with psychopathological bases of political activity. Additionally, as an established standardized, and quantitative assessment procedure, the ACL reduces the problems of reliability and comparability entailed in studies relying on interviews or on ad hoc, limited use or abbreviated personality measures.” (p. 645)

--From Edmond Constantini & Kenneth H. Craik (1980), "Personality and Politicians: California Party Leaders, 1960-1976," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"We propose that the Gough-Heilbrun Adjective Check List is another broad-range instrument with considerable promise as a general cross-cultural research tool. The argument is based on: the nature of the task, which seems appropriate in many cultural settings; the versatility of the method in addressing a variety of research questions; the fact that the instrument has been translated into many different languages; and the successful use of the method in recent cross-cultural studies." (p. 164)

--From J.E. Williams & D.L. Best (1983), "The Gough-Heilbrun Adjective Check List as a Cross-Cultural Research Tool," in J.B. Deregowski, S. Dziurawiec, & R.C. Annis (Eds.) Expiscations in Cross-Cultural Psychology (Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger B.V.)

Types of Assessment with the ACL

When you select adjectives to describe yourself using the 300 possible adjectives of the ACL, it enables us to compute percentile scores for each of the 30 ACL scales with regard to your self-perception. Your self-perception percentile scores in the report indicate your ACL scale score compared to those in the ACL normative database. In turn, aggregating your various ACL scale scores within the various Success Factors, allows us to gauge how you view your own performance with regard to competencies that are valued in the world of work.

If you choose the Multi-rater Report, you will ask a number of individuals with whom you interact to similarly choose from among the 300 ACL adjectives to describe the breadth and depth of their interactions with you. Again, we present percentile scores of their perceptions of your performance, aggregated to the same 6 Work Success Factors.

Examining this rater data will vastly expand your understanding of your performance. You will be able to consider and compare your personal evaluations of strengths and style against the perceptions of others. Sometimes, your self-perception will closely match how others see you. At other times, your view of how you are performing will be at odds with the opinions of others. It is essential to your personal development and professional growth that you understand and act upon these differences.

Barron-Welsh Art Scale
A non-verbal and remarkably valid measure of creativity.
California Q-Sort for Adults
Arrange one hundred personality statements for easily quantifiable personality research.
California Q-Sort for Children
Arrange one hundred personality statements for easily quantifiable personality research about children.
Group Embedded Figures Test: A measure of cognitive style
A classic measure of the cognitive styles of field dependence-independence.
Multifactor Leadership Questionnaireâ„¢
The benchmark measure of transformational leadership.
Personality Adjective Check List
The PACL is a 153-item self-report and rating measure of Theodore Millon's eight basic personality patterns for use with normal adults and counseling or psychotherapy clients.
Personality Disorder Adjective Check List
A brief screening measure for the assessment of personality disorders. It consists of 175 adjectives and adjectival phrases the client uses to describe their attributes.
Psychological Capital Questionnaire
Measuring the Resource of Psychological Capital - Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism
Social Skills Inventory
A measure of verbal, non-verbal social competence and emotional intelligence.
Welsh Figure Preference Test
A non-verbal, visually oriented personality measure incorporating the well-known Barron-Welsh Art Scale. It consists of 400 black and white figures to which the subject responds "like" or "dislike."