HPTI Launch with Thomas International

We are vey pleased to announce that Thomas International has officially launched the HPTI as exclusive, worldwide distributors.

Thomas has been at the forefront of assessment innovation for 35 years. We provide assessments in 56 languages and have a presence in over 60 countries. Today, we are working with 32,000 companies and 300,000 trained Thomas users worldwide. Our clients span every type of business of all sizes; completing over 1.5 million assessments every year.

To read more about Thomas International and the HPTI visit their website, or read two recent articles introducing the HPTI and describing the six personality traits.



Ian MacRae

Gender Differences and the High Potential Traits Inventory

Gender differences in personality are a typical area of disagreement for researchers. There is a long history of contrary findings from minor to major to no gender differences in personality. In 1974 Maccoby and Jacklin concluded men tend to be more assertive, women tend to be more anxious. Research in the often used “Big Five” model of personality finds similar trends of women reporting more emotional volatility, social agreeablility and slightly more gregariousness (Weisberg et al., 2011).

Gender stereotypes exist in many measures of personality used in the workplace. In Myers-Briggs, men tend towards “thinking” types whereas women far outnumber men in the “feeling” type. On the Hogan Personality Inventory, men score higher than women on every trait, although the differences is only significant for some traits like adjustment, intellect, socialibility and stress tolerance (Ones & Anderson, 2010).

In general, studies find that men tend to be more assertive and express dominance, women tend to express more emotionality and warmth. But are these real psychological differences between the genders? Or artefacts of the scale, results of particular ways of framing questions. So what of gender differences in the High Potential Traits Inventory (HPTI)?

A study of over 1700 working professions who completed the HPTI finds essentially no gender differences. When we ask people about their personality at work using the High Potential Traits Inventory, any [statistically significant] gender differences disappear.

The chart below shows personality differences, with men represented by light blue bars, women as dark blue bars. Although there are very minor gender differences for each trait there are no meaningful gender differences. Statistically speaking, there are no significant gender differences. With an average of 50, women score slightly higher on half the personality traits while men score slightly higher on the other half. The differences are not large enough to conclude there are any meaningful HPTI personality differences at work. 

High Potential Traits Inventory gender differences

There three important implications for this:

  • First, personality is a dimension of potential at work. As a component of potential, this would indicate potential is relatively evenly distributed between men and women.  Of course, there are other relevant categories such as intelligence, skill and experience. But, based on personality there are equal numbers of high potential women and men.
  • Second, personality traits are strong contributors to success and achievement at work. As there are no significantly significant gender differences in working populations, testing using the HPTI to assess personality at work would not introduce gender bias into an assessment process (unlike other personality measures).
  • Finally, and most importantly, the HPTI is a much better predictor of success and achievement at work than other personality measures. Omitting some of the biased factors where gender differences exist creates a more equitable, fair, and valid way of assessing personality at work.

That’s not to say gender differences do not exist, but they do not exist within HPTI personality traits in the workplace. Thus, it is possible to take measure of these traits which are strongly associated with success and performance at work while maintaining an equitable hiring, development or retention plan.


Feingold, A. (1994) Gender Differences in Personality: A Meta Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 116(3), 429-456.

Ones, D. S., & Anderson, N. R., (2002). Gender and ethnic group differences on personality scales in selection: Some British data. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75, 255-276

MacRae & Furnham (2014). High Potential: How to spot manage and develop talented people at work. London: Bloomsbury.

Weisberg, Y. J., DeYoung, C. G., & Hirsch, J. B. (2011). Gender Differences in Personality across the Ten Aspects of the Big Five.


Ian MacRae

The Benefits of Low Conscientiousness at Work

Conscientiousness is listed as a desirable trait on almost every job description. Whether it is described as ambition, self-motivated, well organized or a “self-starter”. Everyone is looking for diligence, responsiblity and accountability. Right? Every employer seems to want conscientious employees. 

And indeed, the evidence also suggests conscientiousness is desirable for many jobs. Those who are conscientious tend to perform better, achieve more, show greater improvement as a result of training and are more likely to get promoted. Conscientiousness is one of the greatest predictors of success in many careers.

So what are the advantages (if any) of lower conscientiousness? First, look at how those with lower conscientiousness describe themselves. People with higher conscientiousness would say they are responsible. punctual, organized, dutiful. Those with lower conscientiousness would say they are spontaneous, flexible, and have more fun. Both are correct.

Along with their strengths, those with lower conscientiousness have some very redeeming vices.

Life Satisfaction

The first advantage of lower conscientiousness is clear. Those with lower conscientiousness are less affected by setbacks at work. The highly conscientious workaholic feels successful through professional achivement. Those with lower conscientiousness gain satisfaction from other sources like family, relationships, hobbies and diversions. This means work and career setbacks have a much less negative impact on those with lower conscientiousness. Boyce and colleagues (2010) found periods of unemployment much more damaging to the well-being of those with higher conscientiousness. 


Some positions require flexibility, and the capacity to seize opportunities, change priorities and deviate from the long-term plan. Sometimes, good enough really is good enough, while the perfectionist wastes time on unimportant details. For better or worse, those with lower conscientious can be much faster at adapting to opportunities and change. The artistic and creative fields are dominated by those with lower conscientiousness. Although the connection is complex, low conscientiousness is often associated with higher creativity.

Team Dynamics

A heterogeneous, exceedingly conscientious group can be the least creative. When looking too far into the future, its possible to miss the opportunities right under your nose. Those with lower conscientiousness tend to be more focused on the current moment and situation than long-term planning. The highly conscientious often find their more spontaneous compatriots flighty, flaky or frustrating. But groups benefit from being constructively challenged by those with different points of view. The most creative and adaptable groups will combine the strong planners with the creative and the spontaneous.


It’s not that those with lower conscientiousness cannot be motivated, they are motivated by different things. Those with high conscientiousness are motivated by an internal drive, while those with lower conscientiousness are motivated by the external. That is the environment, the circumstances, the people and what’s going on around them.

Those with lower conscientiousness can work tirelessly when they are motivated by something external. This may involve drawing inspiration from those around them, or the threat of a looming deadline.

So, is it better to have high or low conscientiousness? The answer, of course, depends entirely on how conscientious you are.



Boyce, C. J., Wood, A. M., & Brown, G. D. A. (2010). The dark side of conscientiousness: Conscientious people experience greater drops in life satisfaction following unemployment. Journal of Research in Personality 44, 435 - 539.

Fayard, J. V., Roberts, B. W., Robins, R. W., & Watson, D. Uncovering the affective core of conscientiousness: The role of self-conscious emotions. Journal of Personality, 80(1), 

MacRae, I., & Furnham, A. (2014). High Potential: How to spot, manage and develop talented people at work. London: Bloomsbury.


Ian MacRae