California Psychological Inventory (CPI)

The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) is one of the world’s most popular self-report, non-clinical inventories. It was first designed in 1956 and later underwent revisions in 1987 and again in 1996. Its primary purpose is to measure and evaluate an individual’s interpersonal behavior and social interaction. It assesses everyday folk-concepts that are used each day by lay people, rather than looking at a subject from a purely clinical view. It can, however, be used in clinical settings, such as drug alcohol rehabilitation centers, to determine what type of an individual a patient actually is. As such, it is a valuable psychiatric tool in measuring up an alcohol-dependent individual or drug abuser so that an effective treatment plan can then be devised.

Structure of the California Psychological Inventory

The version of the CPI which was created in 1987 consists of 434 true/false questions, 194 of which were taken from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a test similar to the CPI, except more clinically orientated. Although it is untimed, the test typically takes up to an hour to complete and can be done in a group or an individual setting.

The CPI is scored over 18 scales which look at different aspects of the patient’s lifestyle and personality. These scales are grouped into the following classes:

* Poise, ascendancy, self-assurance and interpersonal adequacy
* Socialization, responsibility, intrapersonal values and character
* Achievement potential and intellectual efficiency
* Intellectual modes and interest modes

How the CPI Measures a Patient

After the test has been completed and the scores tallied up, an individual’s final result will then be placed on a grid to determine what kind of person they actually are. This grid is defined by two axes: the degree to which an individual is internally or externally focused (the v.1 scale) and the degree to which they favor or question the norm (the v.2 scale). This results in four distinct classes of people:

* Alpha: Ambitious, assertive, enterprising and outgoing
* Beta: Steady, cautious, moderate and conventional
* Gamma: Adventurous, clever, headstrong and progressive
* Delta: Reflective, preoccupied, quiet, reserved and detached

An additional measure, entitled realization (the v.3 scale), is also used. This measures the degree to which the potential in the personality is developed, and provides a high score when the subject is reflective, capable and optimistic and a low score when they are not.

These measures can come together to provide a general idea of how a person thinks and acts in public. The underlying principle behind the California Psychological Inventory is that it results in an accurate description of the subject that would be similar to the way that an outsider would perceive them.

The California Psychological Inventory and Addiction Rehabilitation

The CPI is widely used around the world, particularly because it was developed and adjusted through studies of non-clinical populations. This makes it a valuable tool in settings such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers as the results can clearly show any discrepancies in a patient’s behavior and lifestyle from the social norms currently found in everyday society.

Several studies have been carried out to test out how accurate the CPI is when compared with other tests normally used in alcohol-dependent and drug-dependent populations. One example of this showed that the test accurately detects the scale of sociopathic tendencies found within large populations of alcoholics. This is important as this mental illness is commonly found in those who have been diagnosed with a dependence on alcohol. As such, an accurate tool is needed for the proper analyses of patients who are likely to have both sociopathic tendencies and alcoholism or drug addiction.

It has also been found that the CPI can actually serve as a dual diagnostic tool within alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers. Not only can it be used to plan treatments around a specific individual’s behavior and personality, but it can also be used to identify those who require further diagnosis with tests such as the MMPI. In this way, a qualified psychologist can administer the test and be given results which they can actually use to treat their patients, giving them a better chance for a normal life.

Finally, it is also possible to link certain behaviors to specific classes of personality through the CPI. One study used the California Psychological Inventory to connect the destructive action of drunk driving to certain personality characteristics. The researchers were also able to show the correlation between alcohol-abuse and drunk driving through the same study. This is especially useful in the clinical setting as it allows therapists to assess their patients and determine whether or not they may be prone to certain activities in their everyday lives. Methods can then be made to avoid these types of situations if the need arises.

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