About Us: History of the PAS

About Us - Summary

History of the PAS

Short biography of John Gittinger -
the inventor of the PAS

Introduction of John Gittinger at a dinner in his honor.

Officers

Overview

The PAS was developed by Dr. John Gittinger starting in the 1940s. PAS is a descriptive personality system which means that it is a way of describing what can be seen in people. The PAS contains enough different types of personality to provide the opportunity to reflect the diversity observable in people. It does this by describing several dimensions of personality and then within each dimension, the developmental interaction of that dimension of personality with our environment. Some other methods of describing personality, while somewhat useful in limited contexts, are too simple. For example, a system which divides all people into three types is usually confusing to any one of us because we have some traits from all three types. This is because there are more than three types of personalities within the space of human personality.

The PAS is an orderly method of describing personality. With PAS, using the fundamental (called primitive) personality dimensions along with the developmental aspects, we arrive at 1024 different types. This is before considering several other very important variations giving us thousands of possibilities. The beauty of PAS is that even with so many possible types, there is an order which makes it easy to understand and relate to characteristics which we observe.

It is possible to arrive at the personality profile of a person (in PAS terms) by the use of an objective test, seemingly unrelated to personality.

History of PAS

The PAS was developed by Dr. John Gittinger. Many others participated in some aspects of the work, especially the refinement of the use of an objective test.

The first seeds of what became PAS began when Dr. Gittinger was working among a large population of people undergoing treatment for psychological problems. During that work, Dr. Gittinger began to notice that certain personality traits seemed to consistently correlate with performance on certain parts of a test. (1) Because the particular test was commonly administered to his patients, he had access to a large pool of people for whom he had test scores, case histories and current observations. At the time, there was a common assumption that poor performance on a particular part of the test was due to "stress". However, Dr. Gittinger noticed that all his subjects were under "stress" and yet some seemed to score high and some low on that one part of a test (or subtest). From this beginning seed, Dr. Gittinger observed that other traits also were correlated with performance on other subtests (parts) of the test. A key breakthrough was the observation that it was not the absolute performance on a subtest which was important (e.g. whether a person scored 8 or 12 of a possible 18), but rather the relative score compared to other scores for that person. Thus a 10 on a particular subtest may be a very high score for person A but a low score for person B.

A second major breakthrough was the observation that the various personality traits observed correlating to particular test scores seemed to fall into an order or structure. That is, with the 10 subtests of the test, there were not 10 unrelated personality traits being described, but rather an orderly structure. The structure will be more fully explained in the next chapter - it describes three dimensions of personality each with 3 levels of development through life plus one extra factor.

Another important feature of PAS is that the test is an objective test (more will be said about this is the next chapter and in appendix 1). Often, personality testing is done with questions whose purpose is so obvious to the person being tested that all that can be determined is what the person wants to be like. While this is useful information, it is only part of the story.

Over the years, the PAS model was refined as many more people were observed for whom test scores were available. Others did extensive work in refining the scoring techniques for the test so that the testing would more often show results which were an accurate reflection of the person being tested.