Personality Beliefs Questionnaire (PBQ)

Your personality has a large say in why you worry, what you worry about, and how you worry. You may need to be perfect, liked, appreciated, left alone, in control, free from control, busy, take risks, break rules, follow rules and on and on. Some surveys that claim to help you understand your personality have almost 200 questions!

Personality has long been studied and for many reasons ranging from self-improvement to diagnosing and treating behavioural disorders.

Robert L. Leahy in The Worry Cure, Harmony Books, New York, 2005, includes a Personality Beliefs Questionnaire (PBQ) based on personality styles developed by Columbia University psychiatrist John Oldham. It has 65 questions about how you view yourself and your relationships. Responses are grouped into 10 styles.

Avoidant (sensitive)
People with this style often have low self-esteem and are sensitive to criticism. Once they have established that they can trust another they will open up and form relationships.

Dependent (devoted)
These people cling in relationships and do a lot to keep relationships going. They are concerned with being abandoned and left alone. They often feel they cannot function without someone in their lives. They are devoted and loyal.

Passive-aggressive (leisurely)
This group has mixed feelings about going along with things. They may say that they will do something and then not follow through. They are casual about deadlines and rules.

Compulsive (conscientious)
This is me – devoted to (I often use the word “obsessed“) work and productivity. They often make lists, keep a tight schedule, and have high standards for self and others. Reliable and honest. May be hoarders since they believe they might find some use for these items in the future. I know some like this, but I wouldn’t agree that they are devoted to work and productivity. That shows you that groupings of traits cannot be applied rigidly – one size does NOT fit all.

Antisocial (adventurous)
These words are Oldham`s. They are not mutually inclusive to me. This group like excitement and taking risks. They believe that rules do not always apply so they have little problem with breaking them to get what they want. They can be charming and fun to be with, but watch out … they may not care about the rights and needs of others.

Narcissistic (self-confident)
Once again, these labels may not be mutually inclusive; self-confidence can be an asset or a liability, positive or negative, good or bad – and that’s the problem with labels. These individuals believe they are superior and therefore deserve special attention and admiration. They can be insensitive to other people (like the anti-social or adventurous category) and sometimes unable to understand how they can offend others. The are able to achieve things because of their confidence, which may not be based on reality.

Histrionic (dramatic)
This bunch tries to impress people with their glamour and personality. Their appearance is important to them. They can be emotional, melodramatic, even theatrical which can add to how interesting and exciting they may be. Often they are imaginative and energetic.

There is not much in Leahy`s book about the next three categories. These styles depict serious mental disorders which require personal psychiatric involvement. I have decided to include the specific questions that are combined under each style as well as a brief definition from Merriam-Webster.

12. I enjoy doing things more by myself than with others.
25. Relationships are messy and interfere with freedom.
28. It is important for me to be free and independent of others.
29. In many situations, I am better off to be left alone.
36. It’s better to be alone than to be “stuck” with others.
50. My privacy is much more important to me that closeness with others.
53. What other people think doesn’t matter to me.

a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as delusions), perception (as hallucinations), and behaviour;

contradictory or antagonistic qualities or attitudes

3. If people act friendly, they may be trying to use or exploit me.
13. Other people try to use me or manipulate me if I don’t watch out.
14. Other people have hidden motives.
17. Other people will deliberately try to demean me.
24. If other people find out things about me, they will use them against me.
48. People will take advantage of me if I give them the chance.
49. I have to be on guard at all times.

characterized by suspiciousness, persecutory trends, or megalomania

extremely fearful

31. Unpleasant feelings will escalate and get out of control.
44. I am needy and weak.
45. I am helpless when left on my own.
49. I have to be on guard at all times.
56. I need someone around available at all times to help me carry out what I need to do or in case something bad happens.
64. I cannot trust other people.
65. I cannot cope as other people can.

As you analyze the results you must keep in mind that we are a mix of these personality styles. Certain traits will be more dominant than others. Some beliefs can be considered negative and others positive, especially with regard to their impact on worrying. The traits that you are willing to work on should be identified.

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3 Responses to Personality Beliefs Questionnaire (PBQ)

  1. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this brief, clear explanation. I have “The Worry Cure” and scored high on avoidance, compulsive, schizoid, paranoid and borderline, yet my friends, colleagues, family and therapist assure me that for the most part I appear very, very well adjusted. After reading your explanation I understand that a huge breach of trust I experienced several years ago is contributing to my paranoid thinking, that while I indicated on the questionnaire that I enjoy doing things on my own I have several close relationships that I also enjoy (and that my answers to the schizoid questions were heavly based on my negative past experience), and finally, my high boarder line score mostly reflects my low self confidence. I most likely have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which has lead to long periods of moderate to sever depression. Working with my therapist I hope to calm my anxieties and improve my functioning by focussing on my confidence, my avoidance strategies, lowering my anxiety around social situations and my distrust of people.


  2. alex says:

    How can I interpert the results? Thanx

    • It’s really up to you based on your views of what needs to be changed, if anything.

      I am not a fan of “labels” since they can be interpreted differently; I prefer to identify behaviours or habits that need to be changed. So the next question is “What needs to be changed and why?”

      This post wrapped up with:
      “As you analyze the results you must keep in mind that we are a mix of these personality styles. Certain traits will be more dominant than others. Some beliefs can be considered negative and others positive, especially with regard to their impact on worrying. The traits that you are willing to work on should be identified.”

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