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Fact Sheet Adaptive Career values Inventory (ACI)

Description Adaptive Career values Inventory

The Adaptive Career values Inventory (ACI) is an adaptive version of the CV-N (Career Values – Normative version), a questionnaire that measures which work-related factors a person experiences as motivating. An adaptive questionnaire is one in which not every candidate will receive exactly the same list of questions. Only the questions that would provide additional information about the candidate’s work values are asked. Which questions are asked depends on the answers that the candidate has already given to questions previously asked.

Traditional questionnaires present the same exhaustive list of questions to every candidate, usually in a fixed order. In a questionnaire such as the CV-N, there are often questions that are very similar to each other, but that investigate a slightly different aspect of a motivator. This type of questionnaire is often very long as a result. The ACI only asks this type of nuanced question if it will provide information about the candidate. If a candidate has for instance already indicated in a previous question that he/she finds it important to continue to develop professionally, there is no longer any point in asking whether someone likes to follow courses and whether someone considers it important to learn new things. We already know that they see personal development as important. Those additional questions will not provide any new information.

In practice, this means that almost every candidate will receive a different questionnaire. The questionnaire stops once all the candidate’s traits have been reliably measured. The ACI thus ensures that candidates do not receive questions that do not apply to them. This makes the questionnaire shorter and less repetitive and thereby less taxing for the candidate.

Advantages of the ACI:

  • Candidates are always asked the questions that are most relevant for their situation
  • The questionnaire takes less time to complete (it can be completed on average 3x faster than the classic CV-N)
  • In contrast to traditional questionnaires, the ACI also gives accurate estimates of relatively high and low scores.


The purpose of the Career Values N is to understand individuals’ motivators or work values in order to give advice on career issues of various kinds, such as reintegration, career advice and outplacement. We define career values as motivating, pleasant or stimulating aspects or features of the work environment, the work tasks and the profits from work.


The ACI can be applied to any situation in which it is important to find out more about a person’s career values. Since it does not take much time to complete, the questionnaire can be applied in many situations. Examples of applications are coaching and career advice situations. In addition, the questionnaire can easily be combined with other questionnaires without the candidate spending hours filling in questionnaires.


The questionnaire is based on various theoretical models, such as Schwartz’s values (1999), Schein’s Career Anchors (1993) and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943). The ACI contains the same items as the thoroughly validated and COTAN-reviewed Career Values N (see the CV-N manual as well). The quality of these items has been extensively researched, so we can guarantee its effectiveness. In contrast to the traditional CV-N, the ACI is an adaptive questionnaire.

Adaptive testing

In order to develop the adaptive questionnaire, we have carried out extensive research and have determined what information each question provides for different career values. To put it simply, the system will always select from a large pool the question that will provide the most information following on from the previous question. This continues until all the scales have been measured with sufficient accuracy. On average, this manner of questioning provides enough information to produce a reliable report on the candidate’s personality after only 72 questions. In practice, this means that the experience of completing the questionnaire is much more pleasant for the candidates. They hardly come across ‘double’ items which ask about the same traits and are able to finish the questionnaire in a third of the time, on average.

Norm group

The ACI norm group is based on 8174 participants who completed the questionnaire in an advice situation. The norm group is representative of the working population regarding gender, age and educational level. Prior experience reveals that candidates in selection situations usually achieve high scores on the CV-N and as a result it does not give much information about the candidate. For this reason there is no norm group available for the ACI for selection situations.

Reliability and validity

Research has revealed that the ACI reliability is very high (on average .87). In addition, analyses show that the results of the ACI and the classic CV-N are extremely consistent with each other. Our research has revealed that the correlations between the ACI and the exhaustive CV-N are very high (on average r = .92) and that the factor structure corresponds in the two questionnaires. On the basis of these strong correlations we can conclude that the ACI and CV-N are equivalent. These research results support the construct validity and reliability of the ACI.

COTAN review

The ACI is based on the CV-N. The CV-N received a predominantly positive review from the COTAN, the Dutch auditor for psychological tests and questionnaires linked to the Dutch Institute for Psychologists (NIP), in 2015. You will find the review below. The documentation necessary to present the ACI to the COTAN for review is currently being prepared.


Theoretical basis Good
Quality of the test materials Good
Quality of the manual Good
Norms Good
Reliability Good
Construct validity Adequate
Criterion validity Adequate