The Adjective Check List

Assess psychological traits with a full sphere of descriptive adjectives

Harrison G. Gough & Alfred B. Heilbrun, Jr.

pink flower icon for ACL pink arrow bullet pointAbout the ACL
pink arrow bullet pointUses of the ACL

Developmental Use
pink arrow bullet pointSuccess Factors at Work Reports
    pink arrow bullet pointPersonal
    pink arrow bullet pointMulti-rater
pink arrow bullet pointSFW Factors/Scales

Research Use
pink arrow bullet pointManual pink arrow bullet pointLicense to Use pink arrow bullet pointTranslations
pink arrow bullet pointPersonal Report
pink arrow bullet pointAssessment Scales

The Adjective Checklist (ACL) consists of 300 adjectives and adjectival phrases commonly used to describe a person’s attributes. It may be administered to an individual to elicit a self-evaluation or a characterization of someone else; or it may be used by observers in a clinic, counseling center, research laboratory, or in marketing research as a convenient, standardized method for recording and generating meaning of personal attributes of clients, research subjects, products, or even cultures.

The ACL is unique in that the number of items checked is unspecified so that adjectives selected are ones that are salient for the person being evaluated. The variation in endorsement is itself viewed as a personality variable. In addition to a score on number of items checked, there are twenty-three other scales. For these 23 scales, the standard scores are adjusted according to the items that are endorsed; this adjustment removes the influence of acquiescence from the twenty-three measures. Administration time varies from ten to fifteen minutes.

Features of the ACL

ACL Success Factors at Work - Reports

The Success Factors at Work reports present results on 30 distinct scales of the Adjective Check List (ACL) instrument. Each of the scales is assigned to one of 6 Work Success Factors, that is, collections of characteristics, skills, and competencies which over time have proven to be central and important to success at work. The 6 Work Success Factors and Scales for each Factor presented in the reports are:

  • Managing Self
    • Self-control
    • Positive Attitude
    • Self-sufficiency
    • Self-esteem
    • Communality
  • Thinking and Deciding
    • Independence
    • Persistence
    • Risk Tolerance
    • Intuitive Mode
    • Analytic Mode
  • Getting Things Done
    • Achievement Drive
    • Initiative
    • Task Focus
    • Self-confidence
    • Originality
  • Managing Work
    • Order
    • Industriousness
    • Dutifulness
    • Self-determination
    • Efficacy
  • Working with People
    • Involvement
    • Patience
    • Acceptance
    • Nurturance
    • Trust
  • Leading People
    • Influence
    • Visibility
    • Competitiveness
    • Social Insight
    • Innovation

When you select adjectives to describe yourself using the 300 possible adjectives of the ACL, it enables us to compute percentile scores for each of the 30 ACL scales with regard to your self-perception. Your self-perception percentile scores in the report indicate your ACL scale score compared to those in the ACL normative database. In turn, aggregating your various ACL scale scores within the various Success Factors above, allows us to gauge how you view your own performance with regard to competencies that are valued in the world of work.

If you choose the Multi-rater Report, you will ask a number of individuals with whom you interact to similarly choose from among the 300 ACL adjectives to describe the breadth and depth of their interactions with you. Again, we present percentile scores of their perceptions of your performance, aggregated to the same 6 Work Success Factors.

Examining this rater data will vastly expand your understanding of your performance. You will be able to consider and compare your personal evaluations of strengths and style against the perceptions of others. Sometimes, your self-perception will closely match how others see you. At other times, your view of how you are performing will be at odds with the opinions of others. It is essential to your personal development and professional growth that you understand and act upon these differences.

Tutorial ACL Success Factors at Work Personal Report

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The following volume pricing applies:

Individual report$15.00 each
2-10 reports$14.00 each
11-20 reports$13.00 each
21-50 reports$12.00 each
51-100 reports$11.00 each

For larger quantities, please contact us

Tutorial ACL Success Factors at Work Multi-rater Report

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Each Report is $50. Add to Cart your desired number of reports. If you need to order more than 100 Reports, the quantity can be adjusted on the shopping cart screen .

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- You need a Manual if...

Paper by
Digital download (PDF)

Includes non-reproducible instrument and scoring key, both marked “non-reproducible copy”

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Tutorial License to Use - purchasing options
-Note: ACL scoring is included in the Manual, not in the Reproduction License.
- You need a License to Reproduce/Administer if...
- You need Mind Garden's Online Survey if...
- Translations

  License to Reproduce/Administer Mind Garden's
Online Survey

Number of

Paper by
Digital download (PDF)
MindGarden's Transform system
for data collection and scoring
50 $100.00 $120.00
100 $110.00 $132.00
150 $135.00 $162.00
200 $160.00 $192.00
250 $200.00 $240.00
300 $228.00 $274.00
350 $252.00 $302.00
400 $288.00 $346.00
450 $324.00 $389.00
500 $360.00 $432.00

For pricing for larger quantities, please click here

Tutorial Standard Form Personal Report

Let us do the administration for you. We will send you a link to a unique and secure online "control panel" where you will enter clients names and email addresses. Clients will be sent an email with a secure url address to take the evaluation* in privacy at their convenience. You can monitor their progress from your control panel. Instruments will be scored and a report returned to you. The standard profile includes the thirty-seven scales, standard scores and scale descriptions as well as the items checked. Select the desired number of reports from the drop-down menu. Only for clinical or counseling use.
 * click here for web-browser compatibility information

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The following volume pricing applies:

Individual report$15.00 each
2-10 reports$14.00 each
11-20 reports$13.00 each
21-50 reports$12.00 each
51-100 reports$11.00 each

For larger quantities, please contact us

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Assessment Scales

The ACL offers a full sphere of psychological trait assessments.  The Adjective Check List Standard Scales are (see full scale descriptions here):

Modus operandi
  • Number Checked
  • Favorable
  • Unfavorable
  • Communality
Need scales
  • Achievement
  • Dominance
  • Endurance
  • Order
  • Intraception
  • Nurturance
  • Affiliation
  • Heterosexuality
  • Exhibition
  • Autonomy
  • Aggression
  • Change
  • Succorance
  • Abasement
  • Deference
Topical scales
  • Counseling Readiness
  • Self-Control
  • Self-Confidence
  • Personal Adjustment
  • Ideal Self
  • Creative Personality
  • Military Leader
  • Masculine
  • Feminine
Transactional Analysis scales
  • Critical Parent
  • Nurturing Parent
  • Adult
  • Free Child
  • Adapted Child
Origence-intellectence scales
  • High Origence-Low Intellectence
  • High Origence-High Intellectence
  • Low Origence-Low Intellectence
  • Low Origence-High Intellectence

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Example Items

Directions: These pages contain a list of 300 adjectives. Please read through them quickly and check each one you would consider to be self-descriptive. Do not worry about duplications, contradictions, and so forth. Work quickly and do not spend too much time on any one adjective. Try to be frank, and check the adjectives which describe you as you really are, not as you would like to be. Be sure to continue through adjective number 300.

1. absent-minded 69. distrustful 137. irresponsible
2. active 70. dominant 138. irritable
3. adaptable 71. dreamy 139. jolly
4. adventurous 72. dull 140. kind


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