Online (& Other) Personality Tests Give Validation

Online personality tests, many of them free, cover the gamut of interests. Ask Google a question, add the word test, and you just might find a way to find out something about yourself. Or at least get some validation for what you already know.

The idea that your test/quiz results may often be more about validation than anything else is confirmed by Simine Vazire, director of the Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab at the University of California, Davis, writes Paul Bisceglio, The Atlantic. The thoughtful reflection that’s stimulated while answering questions you don’t normally ask yourself can pay off.

Some of the online tests are takeoffs on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Although now deemed scientifically invalid, it’s nonetheless well known. You know the one: your score is one of 16 four-letter personality types.

But why pay for the unsound MBTI when you can get a reinterpretation of it for free, say many. There’s, for instance, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), which I discovered in book form decades ago and have taken several times since. My scores have always come out the same as the MBTI that I took eons ago as part of my studies. Thus, I’ve felt attached to my four bold letters.

So, when I recently tried two different online versions and came out not what I was “supposed to be,” I wasn’t happy. Okay, I am aware of the warning that one’s score can change over time—but 1) that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and 2) my suspicion is that these particular test versions weren’t up to snuff. I mean, anyone can make up an online test.

Besides the MBTI, by the way, another you’ll-pay-for-the-results personality test is the gold standard in-person MMPI, or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. 567 (!!!) true-or-false questions later, your trained psychologist will tell you who you are. Not just the more frivolous stuff, mind you, but whether you have tendencies that could be clinically significant in such areas as hypochondriasis, depression, anxiety, psychopathy, paranoia, schizophrenia, and more.

All you have to do is give your responses to such statements as:

  • I like mechanics magazines
  • I think I would like the work of a librarian
  • I am easily awakened by noise
  • I like to read newspaper articles on crime
  • I have diarrhea once a month or more

Or, as satirized in The Primal Whimper: More Readings from the Journal of Polymorphous Perversity  (1989), here are several other test-question “examples”:

  • I am easily awakened by the firing of cannons
  • I believe I am following others
  • I was not very strict with my parents
  • I try to steal people’s thoughts and ideas when they are not looking
  • I am sexually attracted to beings from outer space

You’re unlikely to take the MMPI, though, unless someone else, like your employer, wants you evaluated.

Try instead the no-fee online tests based on a pet theory in psychology circles: the Big Five personality traits. The Big Five are opennness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (OCEAN). Try this link to find out where you fit when it comes to these.

Want to understand other aspects of your personality? There are quizzes on self-esteem, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, malignant narcissism, plain old narcissism—just to mention a few ideas.

Regarding any of these freebies, you’re completely on your own, of course. Take as much time as you need, answer whatever you think apppropriate, figure out your score.

For fun, and for the sake of writing this post, I overlooked the recently disappointing KTS results and took the plunge into other online test territory. And what results! I hate to brag, but, well, if I do have to manipulate my answers myself say so myself, wow—I am simply amazing and wonderful.

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