PAI® (Personality Assessment Inventory)

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Appropriate For New Applicants
Existing Employees
Comprehensiveness Intermediate
Administration Time - 1 hr
Format pencil icon
Scoring Options hand icon
Language English
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Since its introduction, the PAI has been recognized as one of the most important innovations in the field of clinical assessment. This objective inventory of adult personality assesses psychopathological syndromes and provides information relevant for clinical diagnosis, treatment planning, and screening for psychopathology.

Purpose: Get a comprehensive assessment of adult psychopathology

Age range: 18 to 89 years

Admin: Individual or group

Admin time: 50-60 minutes to administer; 15-20 minutes to score

Scoring time: 20 minutes

Qualification level: C

Features and benefits

• Unique, efficient scale structure. All 22 scales are nonoverlapping, promoting high discriminant validity. Scale development was content-driven.

• Fast, cost-effective administration. Clients generally complete the 344 items in less than an hour.

• Can be used with low-reading level populations. The PAI requires only a 4th-grade reading level; an audio administration CD is also available.

• No scoring keys needed. A two-part carbonless Answer Sheet provides scores for all 344 items.

• Hand-scoring is fast and easy. Scales and subscales can be hand scored in only 15-20 minutes.

• Provides strategies for interpretation. The Professional Manual includes an expanded discussion of administration considerations and a variety of strategies for the interpretation of clinical data.

• Portable materials. The handy PAI Administration Folio provides a hard surface for both the Item Booklet and Answer Sheet for situations in which no desk or tabletop is available.

Test structure

The 344 PAI items constitute 22 nonoverlapping scales covering the constructs most relevant to a broad-based assessment of mental disorders: four validity scales, 11 clinical scales, five treatment scales, and two interpersonal scales. To facilitate interpretation and to cover the full range of complex clinical constructs, 10 scales contain conceptually derived subscales.

• Clinical scales provide critical diagnostic features of 11 important clinical constructs. These 11 scales may be divided into three broad classes of disorders: those within the neurotic spectrum, those within the psychotic spectrum, and those associated with behaviour disorder or impulse control problems.

• Treatment scales indicate potential complications in treatment. These five scales include two indicators of potential for harm to self or others, two measures of the respondent’s environmental circumstances, and one indicator of the respondent’s motivation for treatment.

• Interpersonal scales provide valuable information regarding the client’s relationships and interactions. Interpersonal style is assessed along two dimensions: a warmly affiliative versus a cold rejecting style, and a dominating/controlling versus a meekly submissive style.

• Two scales assess pathology. The Borderline Features scale is the only PAI scale that has four subscales, reflecting the factorial complexity of the construct. The Antisocial Features scale includes three subscales: one assessing antisocial behaviours and the other two assessing antisocial traits.

• Critical Items form alerts you to issues that require immediate attention. This form lists 27 items (distributed across nine content areas) that suggest behaviour or psychopathology that may demand immediate attention. They are identified as critical based on two criteria: indications of a potential crisis situation and a very low endorsement rate in normal individuals.

Technical information

• Reliability and validity are based on data from a U.S. Census-matched normative sample of 1,000 community-dwelling adults, a sample of 1,265 patients from 69 clinical sites, and a college sample of 1,051 students.

• Because the PAI was normed on adults in a variety of clinical and community settings, profiles can be compared with both normal and clinical populations. Reliability studies indicate that the PAI has a high degree of internal consistency across samples—results are stable over periods of 2-4 weeks (median alpha and test-retest correlations exceed .80 for the 22 scales). Validity studies demonstrate convergent and discriminant validity with more than 50 other measures of psychopathology.

Other Versions

• A separate screener, the Personality Assessment Screener® (PAS®), saves you time and money by quickly identifying individuals who may be free from acute pathology and provides rapid, efficient screening for 10 distinct clinical problem domains.

A quick personality screener, the PAS is derived from the full-length Personality Assessment Inventory™ (PAI®) and is designed for use as a triage instrument in health care and mental health settings, corporate EAPs, and college health services. This 22-item test can help you determine the need for follow-up with a full evaluation of psychopathology, focus initial client interviews on specific problem areas, and target certain clinicals areas for follow-up testing.

• The 22 PAS items are those from the PAI that are the most sensitive to a broad range of contemporary clinical problems.

• Items are organized into 10 different element scores that represent 10 distinct clinical problem domains. Element raw scores are summed to determine the PAS Total score, which assesses both the potential for emotional and/or behavioural problems of clinical significance and the need for follow-up evaluation.

• Probability (p) values, which reflect the likelihood that the respondent would obtain a problematic profile if he or she completed the full PAI, are provided for all scores.

• Normative data are presented for a national community sample of 1,000 adults as well as for 1,246 clinical participants and 1,051 college students.

Also Available - On This Website

• Personality Assessment Inventory™ - Adolescent (PAI®-A)

• Personality Assessment Inventory™ - Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Public Safety Selection Report™

Note: The PAI is a C-Level Instrument

Qualification Level C:

Tests with a C qualification require a high level of expertise in test interpretation, and can be purchased by individuals with:

A doctorate degree in psychology, education, or closely related field with formal training in the ethical administration, scoring and interpretation of clinical assessments related to the intended use of the assessment.


Licensure or certification by a provincial College of Psychology to practice in your province in a field related to the purchase.


Certification by or full membership in a professional organization such as College of Psychology, the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (CRHSPP), the Canadian Association of School Psychologists (CASP) or other North American organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) that requires training and experience in the relevant area of assessment.

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