The 7 dimensions of the PAPI test

The Personality and Preference Inventory (PAPI) is a personality assessment test designed to support human resource management. It is mostly used in counseling and discussion sessions by organizations during the recruitment process.
Dimensions of the PAPI test

It was created in the 60s by Max Kostick who believed that a person’s personality traits and preferences are complex and, thus, could have different degrees of intensity. According to Kostick, an individual can not be correctly defined by dichotomous terms (e.g. extrovert or introvert). 

The PAPI test was developed to support companies and organizations in their assessment of potential employees by exploring their interpersonal skills, motivations, needs, interests, and ambitions.

There are two versions of this tool, the PAPI N (Normative) whose results are meant to be compared with those of other test-takers, and the PAPI I (Ipsative) which assesses the test-takers as unique individuals.

The number and structure of the questions differ between the two versions, but both are designed to assess 7 dimensions, which can be broken down into 20 subdimensions comprising 9 roles, 10 needs, and 1 interest.

What does the PAPI test assess?

The PAPI is a personality assessment tool focused on 7 dimensions: motivation at work, leadership skills, activity, sociability, working style, temperament, and subordination ability.

Each dimension is further divided into 20 subdimensions made of 9 roles, 10 needs, and 1 interest.

The roles refer essentially to personality traits and help to understand how the individual behaves. They measure the perception that each person has regarding their workplace, and are associated with work planning and the attention given to detail.

The needs are focused on understanding the reasons behind the behavior of the individual. They assess the general tendencies in a person's behavior, such as the need to belong to groups or to complete a task.

The interest measures if the individuals tend to make a general assessment of any situation or if they are especially focused on the details.

Understanding the dimensions and subdimensions of the PAPI tests

1. Motivation at work

This dimension assesses the ambition of the individuals as well as their personal commitment to the tasks. It comprises two needs and one role.

Need to finish a task - This need is focused on the extent to which a person prefers to work on one task until its completion or if they prefer to delegate this responsibility to others. 

Need to achieve - Assesses the person's ambition and search for success, as well as the desire to do the work or tasks entrusted to them better than others.

Role of hard worker - This role focuses on the extent to which the individuals exert themselves at work. It is related to the need to feel active.

2. Working style

This dimension is focused on the way individuals work and organize their work. It is measured through two roles and one interest.

Organization type - Assesses the individuals in terms of their organizational ability.

Conceptual thinker - Assesses the extent to which individuals are concerned with planning and reflecting on possible solutions and outcomes for a particular situation or problem. A low score in this role indicates someone who prefers activities and tasks that require a more practical and direct approach.

Interest in details - Related to the importance individuals assign to details in their daily life or if they focus more on the broader picture.

3. Leadership skills

The Leadership Skills dimension indicates the extent to which someone meets the necessary conditions to lead a workgroup. It is measured through 1 need and 2 roles.

Need to control others - Reveals how responsible a person feels for controlling the work of others. It also assesses their tendency for influencing other people and showing them how to do their jobs.

Ease in decision making - This role is focused on the individuals’ decision-making skills. It reveals if they can make a decision quickly and with ease or, on the contrary, if they prefer to take their time to assess all the possible risks in order to avoid them.

Leadership role - reveals the existence, or not, of a leadership instinct. It is associated with the role assumed by each person, whether it is a more passive or more active one.

4. Subordination ability

This dimension is concerned with the individuals' need to have rules and/or supervision in the course of the work. It is measured by two needs.

Need to be upwardly supportive - It assesses the extent to which the individuals feel the need to please their superiors by restricting themselves to match the latter’s expectations. or, on the contrary, if the individuals prefer to enjoy a certain amount of autonomy and work independently most of the time.

Need for rules and supervision - This indicates if a person feels the need for detailed instructions, rules, and procedures as well as direct supervision, or if they prefer to work in contexts or with tasks that require a more flexible and spontaneous nature.

5. Sociability

This PAPI dimension seeks to assess the way and the intensity with which people establish their interpersonal relationships in their daily work.

Need to relate closely to others - This subdimension tries to understand if the individuals seek to create friendships and close relationships with their colleagues or, on the contrary, if they prefer to maintain a certain degree of formality in their interactions.

Need to belong to groups - This need assesses if the person prefers working with others and seeks to feel integrated within the group or if they prefer to work alone and independently.

Social behavior -  It concerns the communication skills of the individuals. It assesses the ease or difficulty they have in communicating with people.

Need to be noticed -  It reveals if the person seeks to draw attention to themselves and enjoys being in the spotlight or, on the contrary, if they prefer to be more reserved and inconspicuous.

6. Temperament

This dimension is evaluated through three roles that, as a whole, measure the person's attitude towards different work situations, evaluating the subject's emotional nature and the existence of more or less stable and balanced behaviors.

Need for change - This role assesses the extent to which a person enjoys, accepts, and adjusts to changes, or whether they are traditionalists who prefer more stable and unchanging contexts.

Emotional restraint - Measures a person's impulsiveness regarding the expression of ideas, feelings, and emotions, and their degree of control over them.

Need to be forceful - Assesses if the individuals tend to avoid conflicts and adopt a more cordial or submissive approach, or if they have an assertive stance and are capable of facing conflicts.

7. Activity

It defines the person in terms of work rhythm/pressure, as well as their preference for more sedentary activities or those that require greater physical effort.

Work pace - This subdimension tries to understand if the person works quickly and efficiently under pressure or if their work pace is slower and more relaxed.

Vigor - assess the level of energy and vigor of a person on a scale of very active to sedentary.

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