How to Measure Positivity

Most of us would say that we want to be around positive people. This article explores how to measure this in candidates and employees.  Assessing positivity

Let’s face it, given a choice, most of us would say that we want to be around positive people. Their optimism, view that obstacles can always be overcome, and seemingly happy demeanor can help to keep our own spirits up.

But what about the times that a more realistic view of a situation is needed – when sheer optimism does not get you over the hurdle? Surely, there’s a time we need that too?

It’s valuable to know when putting together a team or hiring somebody into the organization how ‘positive’ they are – and how they demonstrate this is shaped by their other personality characteristics.

Positivity is one of the personality areas measured in our ADEPT-15® questionnaire. Alongside the dimensions of Composure and Awareness, Positivity forms the Emotional Style which examines how a person is likely to operate within a group or team.

How is Positivity Seen in Behavior?

A person’s positivity will be seen in their behaviors to challenges and everyday working. Below are some of the leverage points and some of the things to watch out for.

   The Leverage Points

Those scoring high on the Positivity scale are likely to be:

  • Extremely positive and happy; eternally optimistic.
  • Resilient, always believing that setbacks and obstacles can be overcome.

Those scoring low tend to:

  • Critically evaluate and be aware of potential limitations or problems that may occur.
  • Be realistic or conservative in terms of promises and the future.

   The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high-scorers on Positivity:

  • Overlooking negative aspects of people and potential problems.
  • Overpromising at times.

For the low-scorers on Positivity, watch out for:

  • Being self-critical, worried about mistakes, eager to perform well.
  • Being anxious, overly focused on what could go wrong.

The Role of Positivity in the Workplace

We are able to gain a real insight into how a person will react to and work within a group or team situation when we measure his or her level of positivity.

Demonstrates Resilience

Those high on Positivity are unendingly optimistic and hopeful regardless of the circumstances. This suggests that they will be resilient and maintain their confidence in the face of setbacks. Further, high scorers believe that most work obstacles can be conquered with a positive mindset, and they are able to bounce back from work setbacks quickly.

Inspires Others

Individuals with higher levels of Positivity are hopeful, have an upbeat demeanor, and a contagious sense of optimism. As such, colleagues tend to gravitate toward these individuals, especially during times of crisis, which suggests they will be able to motivate and inspire others.

Champions Change

Because individuals that are high on Positivity possess great enthusiasm, hold optimistic views about most situations at work, and set a positive tone for others they are likely to serve as change champions and demonstrate willingness and enthusiasm for new initiatives.

Compensating for an Individual’s Positivity Score

Depending where on the continuum of Positivity an individual scores, there are other ADEPT-15 dimensions which may temper or compensate for their score on this dimension.

When Positivity scores are low, we need to look at other scales:

  • Higher Composure and Awareness can help ensure low scorers conceal their emotions and appear cool, calm, and collected when overly focusing on what could go wrong or struggling to maintain a positive attitude.

When an individual has a high Positivity score, you may like to look elsewhere in the profile for:

  • Higher Awareness, Structure, and Drive can help high-scorers from falling into the trap of assuming “everything will work itself out” by remaining organized as well as detail- and deadline-oriented to deliver on their commitments.
For more about assessing positivity in your candidates and employees, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®


About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.


*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

About the Author

Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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