The Recaptured Scale Technique: A Method for Testing the Structural Robustness of Personality Scales

Niels G Waller, Colin G DeYoung, Thomas J. Bouchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Tellegen and Waller advocated a complex and time-consuming scale construction method that they called “exploratory test construction.” Scales that are constructed by this method—such as the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)—are presumed to be more “psychologically coherent” and “robust” than scales constructed by other means. Using a novel procedure that we call the “recaptured scale technique,” we tested this conjecture by conducting a megafactor analysis on data from the 411 adult participants of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart who completed the MPQ, the MMPI, and the CPI. We extracted and obliquely rotated 21 factors from a matrix of gender-corrected tetrachoric correlations for the 1,102 nonredundant items of the three omnibus inventories. Robustness of the 11 MPQ scales was assessed by the degree to which these factors recaptured the MPQ item groupings. Our results showed that nine factors were clearly recognizable as MPQ scales and two additional factors represented a bifurcation of an MPQ scale. A higher-order factor analysis of all 21 factor scales yielded five factors that clearly resembled the Big Five. Our results provide strong support for (a) the method of exploratory test construction, (b) the structural robustness of most MPQ scales, and (c) the utility of the recaptured scale technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalMultivariate Behavioral Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Big Five
  • California Psychological Inventory
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
  • Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire
  • mega factor analysis
  • recaptured scale technique
  • twins reared apart


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