The Science Behind McQuaig’s Proven Results as an Assessment Tool

The McQuaig System has been scientifically validated again and again since our founder, Jack McQuaig, created our first survey in 1966. This page provides a summary of the testing that has been conducted to ensure the validity of our results. If you’re interested in a more detailed look at that process, you can request a copy of our Technical Manual, created by Dr. Rick D. Hackett, using the form on the right. At the core of the McQuaig System is The McQuaig Word Survey. It’s a measure of four personality domains that capture core aspects of the widely established “big five” personality factors. It is organized into 21 word sets, each consisting of four descriptors (a tetrad) – one from each of the four personality domains. Respondents rank order the trait-descriptors within each of the 21 sets based on the degree to which they are self-descriptive. The Survey interpretations and recommendations are based on seven basic profile patterns and their subsets.


Norms have been established for each of the four dimensions and for the seven basic personality profiles based on a total sample of over 8100 respondents. Sub-group norms are provided for each of: entrepreneurs, managers, sales, life insurance agents, service providers, administrators, skilled workers, university students, males, females, Spanish, French, English, Asian American, African American, Mexican American, East Indian, Romanian, North American, Chinese, White, Non-white, age category, educational level and marital status.


Split-half and test-retest reliabilities for each of the four personality domains of The McQuaig System meet professionally recommended standards of .70 or greater and respondents show considerable consistency over time in their Word Survey profile typing.


Support for the validity of The McQuaig System has come from several sources:

  • Consistent and strong positive associations of dimension scores and profiles with performance outcomes and occupational achievements.
  • Positive and substantial dimensions score correlations with supervisor-completed checklists of behavioural indicators of these dimensions.
  • Positive and substantial dimension score correlations with similar measures taken from other well established instruments such as the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI).

Test Fairness

Dimension scores and profile types show considerable similarity across gender, race, age groupings and country, and show no evidence of adverse impact or differential prediction across these categories.

Developed for Selection

The McQuaig Word Survey is a personality inventory and behavioural assessment tool, not to be mistaken with “clinical assessments” of mental or psychological health. It has been developed within the guidelines of human rights’ regulatory bodies such as the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Specifically, the Word Survey measures trait dimensions that are related to on-the-job performance and shows no evidence of adverse impact or differential prediction across protected groups.

The Survey demands reading ability at about the grade 5 level and can be completed by most people in 15 – 20 minutes. It is available in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

The four personality domains measured by the Survey are subsumed under the broader “big five” personality factors and are defined to provide a more precise matching of personality to the psychological demands of the workplace. There is an abundance of research, as reported in the Technical Manual, in support of the psychometric integrity, fairness and usefulness in workplace applications as an assessment tool.

Major Applications

  • Selection
  • Succession Planning
  • Managing and Coaching
  • Personal and Team Development
  • Developmental Highlights

The development of the Survey followed a sequence of steps:

  • Define the 4-domain personality typology to represent established clusters of personality trait descriptors.
  • Sort hundreds of common trait descriptors into the four Word Sru personality domains.
  • Identify the top 21 traits most descriptive of each of the four Word Survey domains.
  • Establish reliability and construct validity.
  • Establish criterion related (predictive) validity.
  • Develop norms by occupation, gender, age, race, language, country.
  • Establish test fairness.