The Fallacy of the Oxford Capacity Analysis (OCA)
The staple of Scientology recruitment now is the Personality Test, or
to give it its more formal name, the Oxford Capacity Analysis (OCA).
This has been used by Scientology since the 1950s. 'What Is
Scientology?' (1992 edition) says of the OCA:
"This test accurately measures the preclear's estimation of ten
different personality traits. These rise markedly in auditing,
reflecting the preclear's gains. Preclears report being calmer,
more stable, more energetic and more outgoing as a direct result
of auditing and scores on the OCA furnish corroborative data [...]
Last year I decided to try the OCA for myself and see what happened.
I was given a sheet on which were some 200 questions - at least some
of them were plainly influenced by Hubbard, though he is not credited
- and told to answer "Yes", "No" or "Maybe" to each. The questions
were strangely reminiscent of the "Sec. Checks" which Scientologists
have to do and, in several instances, share the oddity and leading
nature of Sec. Check questions:
A vital tool in Expanded Dianetics is the Oxford Capacity
Analysis. An important use of this profile is to inprove specific
personality traits with Expanded Dianetics procedures. The OCA
helps locate deep-seated pockets of aberration which can then be
addressed and erased with these precise auditing techniques."
['What Is Scientology?' (1992), pp. 163, 220]
"3. Do you browse through railway timetables, directories or
dictonaries just for pleasure?
I was told that the OCA was produced by Oxford University, which is
untrue (but as we shall see, this line has been used for at least the
last 25 years). Having filled in the boxes, I gave it to a
Scientologist who took it away to enter the data into a computer. I
noticed while I was waiting that the OCA form was ascribed to the
"Dianetics Centre, 68 Tottenham Court Road" (this building is actually
the London org of the CoS and is marked as such). It made no mention
6. Do you get occasional twitches of your muscles, when there
is no logical reason for it?
30. Do you enjoy telling people latest scandal [sic] about your
59. Do you consider the modern prisons without bars system
'doomed to failure'?
105. Do you rarely suspect the actions of others?
124. Do you often make tactless blunders?"
I waited for about five minutes, watching a stunning blonde in a Sea
Org uniform ordering the orglings to arrange chairs for a later
presentation. When the tester returned, she took me through to a small
booth to discuss my results. I was shown a graph which purported to
represent my I.Q. and ten personality characteristics. These were:
The scale ranged from +100 to -100, with bands marked "Adequate",
"Normal" and "Unacceptable". All but three of my characteristics were
shown as being between 40 and 80, which I was told was exceptionally
good, but the aforementioned three were hovering down near the bottom
of the scale. I was told that I was badly depressed and that my low
scores were "dragging the rest down". There was obviously someone or
something "suppressing" me and I needed to "handle" or "disconnect"
from them or it. The solution, I was informed, was to take two
Scientology courses costing GBP 48.50 each. Despite the fact that the
test was conducted under the aegis of the Dianetics Centre, there was
no mention of Dianetics, no explanation (or even mention) of the
difference between Dianetics and Scientology, and no mention of the
religious nature of Scientology. It was promoted purely as a
- Responsible (Causative)
- Correct Estimation
- Comm Level
I was being hit for GBP 97 ($147). I definitely did not want to take
the courses - after all, I know Scientology for what it is, and my
sole purpose was to see what the OCA was like - so I refused politely.
Then the hard sell began, and I have to say, it was intense. But I
stuck to my guns, and eventually the evaluator gave up. I got the
impression that she was distinctly disappointed. (She probably was:
they are paid a 10-15% commission for every person to whom they
succeed in selling a course, and they have to pull in a certain number
to keep their stats up).
I knew beforehand what the OCA would probably be like. To aid his
official Enquiry into Scientology in 1971, Sir John Foster asked a
group of eminent psychologists to visit British Scientology orgs to
take the OCA. The Working Party was composed of a clinical
psychologist, a consultant in psychological selection, and a
university lecturer in psychology, all members of the
governing Council of the British Psychological Society (incorporated
under Royal Charter in 1965) and distinguished experts in their field.
This is what they reported:
130. The test consists of 200 written questions, to be answered
"yes", "no" or "uncertain" (this may not be easy to do when the
question, like question 150, is in the form "Do you rarely express
your grievances?"). The members of the Working Party answered the
questions in different, but pre-determined, random fashion (see
below) which could not produce results of any significance: in fact,
they should all have come out pretty average in all personality
traits. The subsequent experience of one member of the Working Party
follows in his own words: -
"In this particular case the inventory was deliberately responded
to in a fashion designed to produce an unpredictable result. As
each question was read the answer space was completed for the
following question without reference to the content of either
question. On any known inventory this procedure should produce a
'flat' profile, with few scores departing significantly from the
mean. When the profile chart was presented on the second visit it
showed extremely low scores on three traits; all save one or two
were below the 'desirability' band. (The imprecision is due to the
fact that, try as he might, the 'client' was not permitted to bring
away the profile sheet). The staff member who had scored the
inventory expounded the extreme scores with some urgency. He
avoided questions on the meaning of the scales, dismissing as
irrelevant the trait words at top and bottom; yet he invested the
points on the scale with immense importance, almost of a
charismatic nature. His patter continually referred to the
inadequacies which the graph revealed - one point became 'failed
purpose' and another 'loss', although these terms were never
explained. He attempted to confirm his diagnosis of these points on
the graph by such leading questions as "Do you often fail to
achieve what you set out to do?" and "Do you have difficulty making
friends?" Affirmative answers to these questions (which were given
readily) were, somehow, to be explained by the low scores and the
interpretation put on them.
131. The conclusions of the Working Party are summarised as
In the course of the session the following information was
elicited from the Scientology staff member:
(i) The test was devised by "Oxford students, or the Oxford
Dictionary people", he did not know which;
(ii) He did not understand the word 'percentile' - although it was
he who brought the word into the discussion. He looked it up in
the Concise Oxford Dictionary without success and decided it
meant 'percentage'. He thereafter interpreted '90th percentile'
as 90 per cent.
(iii) 'Most people' scored beyond the 'minus 90' point on the three
traits being discussed.
In general it was patent that this person had no notion what the
test was, how it was designed, what it measured or what the scores
meant. He had been trained to produce this ill-informed
commentary which, to a gullible anxious person, might sound
genuinely insightful. In fact he was pointing out to an unknown
member of the public 'inadequate' facets of his personality shown
up by an instrument which he did not understand.
In a second interview, immediately following on, the 'Registrar'
explained the hierarchy of levels which could be attained by
Scientology processing. He described the courses offered by the
organisation to remedy the inadequacies shown up by the profile.
All these courses would cost money and a probable minimum total of
one hundred guineas [L108 - probably about L500 now] was quoted to
deal with the particular personality deficiencies shown up by the
"The systematic quantification of personality variables is one
aspect of psychometric testing .... All psychometric tests can be
assessed in terms of their reliability and validity. "Reliability"
implies a test yields similar results under similar testing
conditions. Various degrees of reliability can be attributed to a
number of sources of error. In a properly constructed personality
test the various effects of these sources of error are
systematically assessed. "Validity" implies that a test measures
what it claims to measure - i.e., that it is a valid measure of the
characteristic it claims to quantify. A test may be reliable
without being valid, but not vice versa. A known degree of
reliability is crucial to the use of any psychometric test
in a setting where its results are used with an individual case.
132. A similar exercise was carried out independently by Dr. David
Delvin, who reported the outcome in World Medicine (17). Again, I
If a personality test is a reliable device, then a systematic
approach to answering the questions should yield systematic
variations in the conclusions derived from an analysis of the test
scores. That this is a property of reliable tests may be assumed
from a knowledge of formal test theory such as any person competent
to assess the results of a psychometric test should possess. The
members of the Working Party used this property of reliability of
psychometric tests to assess the adequacy of the personality
testing offered by the Scientologists, by submitting themselves to
testing as 'clients' responding to the advertisements for free
For the purpose of making their assessment of the status of the
test, the members of the Working Party employed three different
methods of responding to the test items when they themselves
completed it: -
(a) one member answered the questions at random, selecting the
answer to be given before reading the question;
(b) a second member employed a method in which the response was
pre-determined regardless of the content of the question: if the
final letter of the question was a consonant in the range "a" to
"m", he answered "no"; if it was a consonant in the range "n" to
"z" he answered "yes"; if it was a vowel, he answered
(c) the third member used the reverse of this procedure, so that he
answered "yes" where the second method produced the answer "no",
and "no" where the second method produced the "yes" response.
The "uncertain" response was given to the same questions as
This systematic variation in response styles would be expected to
affect the resultant profiles. ("Profiles" are an accepted manner
of presenting the information derived from some types of
personality test. A random method of response ((a) above) would be
expected to produce scores close to the mean of scores obtained
during the standardising of the test. Methods (b) and (c) should
also result in profiles with low deviations from the mean scores;
if such deviations occurred these two methods would be expected to
produce different, if not complementary, profiles. The Working
Party verified that on two accepted personality tests such
systematic variations in answering did produce variations in
These variations in answering the questions did not seem to affect
the Oxford Capacity Analysis as the three methods produced
remarkably similar profiles, in which the scores on the first three
scales were in an extreme position in the range marked
"unacceptable" ... All profile results then rose into the "normal"
or "desirable" range over the next 2-4 scales and showed a return
to "unacceptable" over the remaining scales.
If these three systematically varied response styles had all
produced "flat" profiles, with few scores departing greatly from
the mean, then we would have considered that the Oxford Capacity
Analysis could not be criticised on these grounds. But when each of
two diametrically opposed methods of response produces the same
extreme deviant scores as the other and as a third "random"
response style, we are forced to a position of scepticism about the
test's status as a reliable psychometric device.
It should be noted that the Oxford Capacity Analysis is not a
personality test known in psychological circles; it is not
distributed by reputable test agencies in this country; there is no
research literature available about it, nor is it listed in the
Mental Measurements Year Book which is internationally accepted as
the authoritative source on psychometric devices. While any one of
these points does not in itself indict a psychometric instrument,
the failure of the Oxford Capacity Analysis to meet all of them
does, in our opinion, constitute an extremely strong case for
assuming it to be a device of no worth. The scientific value and
useful nature of the profile apparently derived from completion of
the Oxford Capacity Analysis must consequently be negligible. We
are of the opinion that the Oxford Capacity Analysis and the
profiles derived from its completion are constructed in such a
manner as to give the appearance of being adequate psychometric
devices, whereas, in fact, they totally fail to meet the normally
Taking the procedure as a whole, one is forced to the conclusion
that the Oxford Capacity Analysis is not a genuine personality
test; certainly the results as presented bear no relation to any
known methods of assessing personality or of scaling test scores.
The booklet itself might produce genuine scores but these are not
the scores presented on the profile. The legend 'produced and
edited by the Staff of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists
International' which appears on the cover is totally inappropriate
to a personality measure - such an instrument is not 'edited', it
is developed through painstaking research. The validity of the OCA
booklet itself is therefore in doubt.
No reputable psychologist would accept the procedure of pulling
people off the street with a leaflet, giving them a 'personality
test' and reporting back in terms that show the people to be
'inadequate', 'unacceptable' or in need of 'urgent' attention. In a
clinical setting a therapist would only discuss a patient's
inadequacies with him with the greatest of circumspection and
support, and even then only after sufficient contact for the
therapist-patient relationship to have been built up. To report
back a man's inadequacies to him in an automatic, impersonal
fashion is unthinkable in responsible professional practice.
To do so is potentially harmful. It is especially likely to be
harmful to the nervous introspective people who would be attracted
by the leaflet in the first place. The prime aim of the procedure
seems to be to convince these people of their need for the
corrective courses run by the Scientology organisations."
"I settled down to the 'personality test'. This consisted of 200
questions of the type much favoured by women's magazines (Are you
considered warm-hearted by your friends? Do you enjoy activities
of your own choosing? Are you likely to be jealous? Do you bite
133. It may be relevant to note that none of these observers at any
stage had it suggested to him that Scientology was a religion.
Eventually, a young man took my answers away for "processing".
When he returned, he was waving an impressive-looking piece of
graph paper, around which were printed figures, symbols, and
various bits of McLuhanistic jargon. Across the paper was drawn a
line that looked something like the Boat Race course. This, the
young man told me, was my personality curve.
The young man airily drew a ring round the area of Putney, and
said that this represented "other people". A similar ring in the
region of Barnes Bridge indicated "myself", while another drawn
round Mortlake Brewery apparently represented "life". On the basis
of all this, the young man gave me a 20-minute personality
analysis, which mainly consisted of portentous-sounding
pseudo-scientific neologisms ("You've got quite a bit of agity and
you are moderately dispersed, but we can help you to standard
tech.") He seemed a bit vague about what these words actually
At the end, he said to me impressively, "So you see, it's all very
scientific - thanks to the fact that our founder is a man of
"Oh yes, very scientific indeed," I said.
I hadn't the heart to tell him that his super-scientific system
had failed to detect the fact that I had marked the "don't know"
column against all 200 questions in the test."
134. I asked the Scientologists what claims they made for the Oxford
Capacity Analysis, on what published evidence they were founded and
what written instructions were given to persons who interpreted the
tests. Mr. [David] Gaiman answered: -
"As far as I have been able to discover, we don't make any
particular claims about the Oxford Capacity Analysis.
He did not mention any published evidence, or the existence of any
All I say about the test is that it is a reasonably reliable test
for measuring individual personality.
I don't know if you have received a paper from the British
Psychological Society by three of its members who went to our
premises in London deliberately to make a mockery of the tests by
giving random answers. I would certainty concede that it is
possible to make a mockery of them. Newspaper plants have also
proved that it is possible to make a mockery out of auditing. It
does not discredit the tests, or auditing, for honest
men who are genuinely seeking a result."
A quarter of a century on, nothing has changed. But the instructions
have now come to light, and I can see why Gaiman did not give them
to Sir John Foster.
I came across some documents which give very detailed instructions on
the selling techniques to be adopted in the OCA. In HCO Policy Letter
of Feb 15, 1961, L. Ron Hubbard laid out the tactics which should be
used to conduct personality tests and sell Scientology. It makes
very interesting reading, and explains why - no matter who the
person is or what their circumstances are - they are always told that
there is something wrong with them which only Scientology can put
right. Hubbard tells the evaluator how to begin:
"Now, Mr, (Mrs, Miss,) let us have a look at your tests". Open
folder. "Your I.Q. Score was ----"
Note how, regardless of the intelligence of the person, they are told
that they still need Scientology. The person is also told that
Scientology can raise I.Q., but this is completely scientifically
unproven and the raising of adult I.Q. is, in any case, generally
regarded as impossible. Note also how the evaluator concentrates on
the negatives, purposefully aiming to make the person feel bad about
himself. How could the evaluator know that a person of low I.Q.
"obviously has great difficulty solving problems"? And this is the
same L. Ron Hubbard who complained in an HCO Bulletin of 18 July 1959
a) less than 100
"This is very low. Less than average and you obviously have
great difficulty solving problems. Scientology training would
raise that considerably."
"A very ordinary score and you have more difficulty than you
need in handling problems. Scientology training would raise
"An above average score. You can take advantage of opportunity
and when you apply yourself, you progress fast. However, a
high intelligence is only useful so long as you have data to
apply the intelligence to. Scientology will not only give you
useful data, but can raise your I.Q. even higher."
d) Above 120
The whole Christian movement is based on the victim. Compulsion
of the overt-motivator sequence. They won by appealing to victims
[...] Christianity succeeded by making people into victims.
Hubbard continues, instructing the evaluator to say something like
"Now let's look at your personality. This is what you've told us
about yourself. Understand that this is not our opinion of you,
but is a factual scientific analysis taken from your answers. It
is your opinion of you."
As the Foster Report indicated, the OCA is not a recognised
scientific analysis and is not regarded as being of the slightest
scientific value. And, as the following clearly states, the person
doing the test is to be given a forcefully Scientological opinion of
The Evaluation is given with excellent TR I. Almost Tone 40. The
idea is to impinge on the person. The more resistive or
argumentative he is, the more the points should be slammed home.
Look him straight in the eye and let him know, "That is the way
Even though this is partly in Scientologese, it is clearly an
instruction to browbeat the "rawmeat" (as the public are charmingly
labelled). A "Tone 40" statement means one that is given with such
force that it is irresistable and must be acted upon. I can certainly
testify to having received the full Tone 40 treatment following my
OCA, but I was obviously too degraded to succumb...
In point of fact, Scientology evaluators and registrars are given
courses which explicitly teach them the techniques of "hard sell" (and
yes, it is labelled as such).
"Above this line is satisfactory but even these points can be
raised higher. Also knowledge is necessary to make full use of
the best points of one's personality. That can be gained through
This is represented as being the result of a "factual scientific
analysis", and "your opinion of you" but is, of course, very much the
personal opinion of the evaluator - or rather, something that the
evaluator has been ordered to say regardless of the actual
circumstances. Hubbard has even gone to the lengths of writing the
script, as the above shows.
These middle points will get you by, so long as there is no
crisis or difficulty in your life.
Now, this section shows that you are very much in need of
In a previous age, a dishonest doctor would diagnose a patient as
having galloping lurgie, or some other fictitious condition, and
prescribe a costly patent treatment. Scientologists appear to do
exactly the same for mental conditions. I was diagnosed as being
"suppressed"; that is not a complaint recognised outside of
The next few paragraphs are almost breathtaking in their cynicism:
Proceed with evaluation on the low points, column by column.
Make a decisive statement about each. If the subject agrees, -
says, "That's right", or "That describes me all right", or
similar - leave it immediately. You have impinged. If he
argues or protests, don't insist. You simply are not talking on
his reality level. Re-phrase your statement until it is real to
him. Stop as soon as you get through. As soon as you get an
impingement, look subject in the face and say, with intention,
"Scientology can help you with that", or "That can be changed
with Scientology", or some similar positive statement.
In other words, it doesn't matter what is right about you; the only
important thing is what the OCA, a test with no scientific validity,
says is wrong with you. Of course, the latter is what provides the
snare with which to bring a person into Scientology.
NEVER say it half heartedly, or apologetically!
Don't bother much with the high points. If he queries them
tell him it is the low ones that are the cause of his troubles -
and that these can be changed. If several are high you can add
that because of these it will be easier for him than for most
people, to use Scientology to improve with.
"With these low points on your personality graph, you are going
This makes explicitly clear - though it probably was that already -
that the whole aim of the Personality Test is to so unsettle the
person on the receiving end that they feel compelled to buy a
Scientology course. "The person should be worried ..."
(Here, you use what you know of Scientology and assess this)
"Not a very bright prospect is it? Unless you care to change it."
At this point the evaluator leans back in his chair, puts down
his pencil on the chart, smiles and says:
"Well, Mr, (Mrs, Miss) - That's what your tests show!
"Thank you very much."
The Evaluator does not reach or try to sell any more than
this. If the job has been done well, the person should be worried
and will probably ask a question as to what he can do about it
If so, the evaluator says:
Note how Hubbard tells the evaluator to lie - "I don't have anything
to do with sales or courses" - when, as he makes clear, the whole
purpose of the evaluator is to sell to the person the need for
"That is very commendable, wanting to do something about it. A
point in your favour".
"There are many things you can do. There are all sorts of things
that people go in for. In the past they tried psychology, psycho-
analysis, Dale Carnegie, Confidence Courses, Mental Exercises,
read books, but these things had a very limited application and
you could get yourself terribly involved in mysteries, expenses
and wasted time, before you found any solutions to your
difficulties. All across the world today, people are coming to
us, to find simpler, more straight forward [sic] answers."
(Here the evaluator grows confidential) ......
"Look, I'm technical staff here. I don't have anything to do
with sales or courses, but if you'd like a confidential tip,
there are all sorts of courses and services going on here all the
time, but your best bet is to spend L1 (or cost of PE) on a
Personal Efficiency Course and discover what Scientology can
offer you. That will save you from getting involved. Go and see
that lady over there and tell her you only want the Personal
Efficiency Course, so that you can find out what Scientology is
Then route the person to P.E. Registrar. [...]
The P.E. Registrar should realise that if the person walks over
from the evaluator's table to Reg., he, or she, is SOLD already.
I can confirm the above as still being in use; it is precisely the
approach that was used on me. The only differences were that the
courses offered cost 50 times more than in 1961 (inflation, y'know)
and that the evaluator herself tried to sell the courses to me, rather
than send me to the registrar. I don't know whether this is standard
practice or just a local peculiarity.
This HCO Policy Letter is not an isolated example, but develops a
theme set out in earlier Policy Letters. HCO PLs of Oct 28, 1960 and
Nov 24, 1960 both deal with similar matters, though perhaps not in
quite such detail as the one of Feb 15, 1961 quoted above. In dealing
with the use of Personality Tests, Hubbard writes in HCO PL of Oct 28,
Remarks that 'Scientology can influence this or that
characteristic' or 'auditing can remedy that' or 'Processing can
change this' or 'Training can stabilise that' should be repeatedly
used during the evaluation for the sake of impingement [...]
Remember low cases want only to escape the consequences of life
[...] Certain traits showing difficulty in handling people should
be stressed as most easily remedied and kept remedied by academy
training. Graphs showing the 'therapeutic' value of training
should be in the display book and on walls [...] We will take full
advantage of the superstitions of people at the level of
This can be seen in a number of Scientology publications; on page 220
of 'What Is Scientology' (1992 edition) can be seen a number of graphs
said to have been produced using the OCA. Presumably the CoS expects
people to look at the graphs, not at what the graphs actually say, as
it is curious that several of the graphs show characteristics
declining after auditing. Case A has apparently become less active,
Case B less happy and less communicative, and Case C considerably less
certain. Only one out of the four shows an across-the-board
improvement. Validation by Ron?
Hubbard developed the theme some more in HCO Policy Letter of Nov 24,
1960. This was evidently rewritten and expanded into the HCO PL of Feb
15, 1961 on which I have already commented. Referring to the "rawmeat"
as an "Incomer" (because he brings Income, no doubt), Hubbard writes:
Evaluator takes Incomer off meter without explanation and turns
to graph. Evaluator now explains each point of graph. But it is
vital that at each low point, where explained he adds,
'Scientology can help that.' This is said directly to make an
impingement. The wording can be varied but the sense must be the
same. Do not precede this statement with 'Dont' worry' [sic] or
the like as this cancels inpingement. Graph done, Evaluator
explains IQ. If low he says 'Scientology training can raise that.'
He explains levels of IQ; tells person even if it's high that IQ
means little unless person knows something with it. Evaluator now
takes up the Meter Case Assessment sheet. Here he tells of pc's
future. It is done by looking at pc's statement of his past and
by rephrasing saying it is going to happen, (without Scientology
fates don't change much. Accidents, divorces, &c., happen again).
This is all rapidly done. Factually, expertly [...] The Evaluator
now leans back and says 'That's it.' Incomer is hanging on ropes.
If Incomer says anything like 'What can I do about it?' Evaluator
says, 'That is very commendable, wanting to do something about it.
A good point in your favour. I'm a technical person, not a sales
personnel [sic]. Confidentially, though, I'll give you a tip.
Don't spend money foolishly until you know what you're spending it
for. Psychiatrists and so on could cost you thousands. You'd buy
anything they said because you know little about the mind. So why
don't you take an Anatomy Course and learn something about the
mind. That's just a tip. It's cheap and you'll be wiser about what
to do about yourself. The person over there is in the Service
Department. Ask him.' [...] If the Incomer walks out without
buying, the PrR man (even if he is interviewing someone else and
even if Incomer has not approached him) rushes over and gives
Incomer a copy of Problems of Work and Dianetics, Evolution of a
Science, and says 'Here are two books that might help you,' and
without waiting for an answer goes back to his desk. The above
routine is at this time a set, fixed activity. As it works further
it may be improved.
It evidently did work, as it was reformulated in even greater detail
only ten weeks later.
Judging from the documents I have cited and from my own experience,
it seems evident that the Personality Test is, to put it bluntly, a
rather nasty con trick. However, it plainly does work. 'What Is
Scientology?' (1992 edition) states that 18 percent of current Scientologists
joined as a result of taking the OCA. Even if one uses the much lower
figures for Scientology membership cited by critics, that still means
that since the introduction of the OCA, several hundred thousand
people have been recruited by that means. It is virtually
certain that few, if any, knew at the time what lies behind the image
of the smiling recruiter handing out leaflets inviting you to "Find
out about yourself".