There has been a renewed interest in what industry insiders refer to as ‘the dark side’ of personality which focuses on dysfunctional behaviours.

Important changes in how personality is conceptualised and measured have led to a new maladaptive trait model that is well summarised by the opposite poles of the well-known Big-Five model of personality. Some industrial psychologists have talked of a ‘too-much-of-a-good-thing effect’ and started to discuss how high scores at the positive end of the Big Five can have negative implications for performance.

There is a good case to be made that maladaptive personality profiles can be usefully and legally applied in personnel-related decision-making as long as job analysis has identified that lower standing on these traits is important for job performance, and as long as the questionnaires are designed specifically for prediction of job performance rather than medical screening purposes.


Limits is a measure of a person’s least flattering personality characteristics which emerge when they are under pressure, commonly referred to as ‘the dark side.’ The assessment was developed by Podium with advice from Dr. Nigel Guenole at Goldsmiths, University of London.

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Limits is designed to predict job performance and diagnose counterproductive behaviours that interfere with interpersonal work relationships and prevent employees from achieving their work goals.


Limits measures six maladaptive personality traits associated with associated with the extreme scores on the Big-5 Personality Model and dysfunctional workplace behaviours. The maladaptive traits are: Competitiveness, Reserve, Negative Emotionality, Disinhibition, Diligence, and Unconventionality.

Limits is a self-report inventory comprised of 60 questions. It has minimal reading demands and can be completed in under 15 minutes. Reports highlight areas of high risk and provide probing questions and development recommendations.


  • The Limits trait model is considered a maladaptive equivalent of the Big Five and is the only commercially available dark side assessment that re-conceptualises maladaptive personality under the revised DSM-5 trait framework.
  • Rather than screening for personality disorders, Limits measures traits that predispose individuals to dysfunctional work behaviour amongst normal working populations, and which have clear implications for job performance.
  • Limits was developed on large representative samples using multidimensional item response theory methods.
  • Limits has strong internal consistency reliability overall and across subsamples (e.g., gender and ethnicity).
  • Validity studies against well-established models reveal expected patterns of correlations with these alternative models.
  • Examination of questionnaire items across ethnic regroups reveals minimal evidence of psychometric bias (i.e., measurement invariance analyses).