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.
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
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.
Need scales: Fifteen scales assessing psychological needs or wants identified as important in Henry A. Murray’s need-press theory of personality.
Topical scales: Nine scales assessing a diverse set of attributes, potentialities, and role characteristics.
Transactional Analysis scales: Five scales, an Egogram, assessing components of ego functioning from the Transactional Analysis (TA) theory of personality developed by Eric Berne.
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.
The 6 Work Success Factors and Scales for each Factor presented in the reports are:
Thinking and Deciding
Getting Things Done
Working with People
Available with ACL License to Administer:
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"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.