The test is typically used with people aged 13 years and older. It takes about 45-60 minutes to complete.
The revised third edition of the CPI contains 434 items. This latest version requires that the patient's false and true answers be transformed at an additional cost into raw scale and Standard scores by the publisher, who will also provide interpretative report writing. The older CPI with the 462 items is still available for sale by the publisher, Consulting Psychologists Press, and comes with plastic scoring keys and profile sheets, thus allowing each research or clinical psychologist to score the test by hand, an admittedly less convenient but nonetheless a less expensive alternative, one ideally suited for use in training psychology students.
This paragraph will discuss what are referred to as the Structural Scales of the CPI-462 version, using information being provided by the manual for that version, the CPI Administrator's Guide from 1987. Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma personality types are conveniently illustrated by a score's placement on a grid defined by the two dimensions - the degree to which the person is norm-favoring or norm-questioning on one dimension (called the v.2 scale), and the degree to which he or she is more externally or internally focused (the v.1 scale). Alpha personality types are more enterprising, dependable and outgoing. Betas are reserved, responsible and moderate. Gammas are adventurous, restless, and pleasure-seeking. Finally, Deltas are withdrawn, private, and to some extent disaffected. In a separate measure known as Realization, also referred to as the v.3 scale, a tester's score may reflect the degree to which he or she is reflective, capable, and optimistic about the present and future, when the score is high, or possesses the opposite characteristics when low. Thus, research scientists or medical or psychology graduate students tend to score high on this scale, while psychiatric patients, juvenile delinquents, prison inmates and even high school students in general (who lack life experience and are still forging a solid sense of identity) tend to score low.
Another component of this test are the 20 Folk Concept Scales (18 in the CPI-434 version) - measuring Dominance, Capacity for Status, Sociability, Social Presence, Self-acceptance, Independence, Empathy, Responsibility, Socialization, Self-control, Good Impression, Communality, Well-being, Tolerance, Achievement via Conformance, Achievement via Independence, Intellectual Efficiency, Psychological-mindedness, Flexibility, and Femininity/Masculinity. These scales are called "folk" as they attempt to capture personality themes that should be broadly cross-cultural and easily understood around the world. This test is thus an attempt to tap into personality factors that arise without exception to some, varying, degree, in all humans regardless of cultural context, and which provide a picture of people's relatively stable tendencies and characteristics, which is as good as any definition for what is loosely termed their unique "personality."
Norms are available for males only, females only, and male/female data combined. The CPI has been very popular in research and in individual assessments of adolescents and adults. The fact that it was developed and normed on non-psychiatric or non-clinical populations is regarded almost universally as part of its positive reputation and usefulness among psychologists.