At a fundamental level, taxonomy of behavior and behavioral tendencies can be described in terms of approach, avoid, or equivocate (i.e., neither approach nor avoid). While there are numerous theories of personality, temperament, and character, few seem to take advantage of parsimonious taxonomy. The present study sought to implement this taxonomy by creating a questionnaire based on a categorization of behavioral temperaments/tendencies first identified in Buddhist accounts over fifteen hundred years ago. Items were developed using historical and contemporary texts of the behavioral temperaments, described as “Greedy/Faithful”, “Aversive/Discerning”, and “Deluded/Speculative”. To both maintain this categorical typology and benefit from the advantageous properties of forced-choice response format (e.g., reduction of response biases), binary pairwise preferences for items were modeled using Latent Class Analysis (LCA). One sample (n1 = 394) was used to estimate the item parameters, and the second sample (n2 = 504) was used to classify the participants using the established parameters and cross-validate the classification against multiple other measures. The cross-validated measure exhibited good nomothetic span (construct-consistent relationships with related measures) that seemed to corroborate the ideas present in the original Buddhist source documents. The final 13-block questionnaire created from the best performing items (the Behavioral Tendencies Questionnaire or BTQ) is a psychometrically valid questionnaire that is historically consistent, based in behavioral tendencies, and promises practical and clinical utility particularly in settings that teach and study meditation practices such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
This work was originally published in PLoS ONE, available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140867.