PPA Education

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In just 8 minutes, Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) provides an accurate insight into how your students behave, answering questions such as: what are their strengths and areas for development? How do they communicate? What motivates them?

OverviewThe Science

Assess: Behavior
Type: Ipsative psychometric assessment
Time: 8 minutes

PPA provides an accurate insight into the behavioral style of young people. The assessment provides a unique link between education and the world of work, by identifying working strengths, which young people can use to inform their approach to studying, make further education choices and succeed in employment.

The PPA report provides comprehensive information on a young person's strengths, fears and motivators and will indicate any behavioral modifications or frustrations.

Use PPA to:

  • Increase self-awareness and self-worth
  • Assist with career pathway decisions
  • Increase communication skills
  • Improve behavior and attitude 
  • Boost attainment

Want to see it in action? Check out our Larbert High School testimonial.

Test author: Thomas M. Hendrickson

Year of construction: 1958


Background and theory:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dr. Thomas Hendrickson developed William Moulton Marston's DISC theory to produce the Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) for the work place.

Marston's original theory stated that actions based upon emotions are an individual's biosocial response to supportive or hostile social environments. These actions determine how the individual interacts with the environment. It was theorised that the way in which the individual interacts with the environment takes four basic directions: tendencies to dominate, influence, submit and comply. Marston published his book 'Emotions of Normal People' in 1928, which described his theory of human consciousness in comprehensive detail.

The PPA determines whether individuals see themselves as responding to workplace situations that they perceive to be favourable or challenging, and reveals whether their response patterns are active or passive; thus classifying the individual's behavioral preferences in terms of four domains: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. 


The Thomas PPA is a forced-choice instrument which uses an ipsative referencing method – an individual's response patterns are compared to themselves rather than the scores of a comparison group. Individuals are asked to select one adjective which they believe describes them most and one which describes them least.

In order to complete the PPA, individuals choose two trait adjectives from a block of four, one 'most like' and one 'least like' them. This process is repeated 24 times, giving 48 choices from a total of 96 words.

The PPA is available electronically via the web and in paper-and-pencil format. Thomas International has also developed the PPA+ format which is suitable for people with a reading age of 11+ and for candidates who are fluent in English but for whom English is not their first language.

Reliability and validity:

The Thomas PPA has been subject to rigorous scientific testing to determine its reliability and validity as a psychological assessment. The PPA is registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS) after it was audited against the technical criteria established by the European Standing Committee on Tests and Testing, part of the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations.

Thomas International conducts on-going psychometric research with the PPA in partnership with the Psychometrics Centre at Cambridge University. http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/.

Want to see it in action? Check out our Larbert High School testimonial.