Why Are We Obsessed With Personality Tests?

I just took that old Myers-Briggs test again. You know the one that labels you (I)ntroverted, (F)eeling, or (S)ensing?

What, you’ve never done it before? Well, here it is then. I bet you learn a thing or two.

Every month they put these tests into in-flight magazines, never mind Cosmo or any other like it. I personally do them wherever I find them. But why? Maybe it’s because they’re fun, or because we like having other people tell us about ourselves.

Personally, I do them to try and find my place in the world. I’m still trying to figure out what it is. Are you?

If so, how did you find out? It probably wasn’t from a personality test (but I’ll probably keep doing them anyway).





9 responses to “Why Are We Obsessed With Personality Tests?”

  1. Eric Jean Avatar
    Eric Jean

    You know, the last time I did one of these tests, I think I got different results than I had in the past. So, I guess I’ve “changed.”

    Love those tests.

  2. LD Alford Avatar
    LD Alford

    God has a plan for everyone…have you taken HIS test? When your life is over, it’s the only plan that will really matter. People are lost because they are looking for something that validates them and their fantasies.

  3. CT Moore Avatar

    I think this is part and parcel of our specie’s obsession with the “search for truth.” I guess if we figure out the world, we can figure out our place in it; conversely, if we figure out our place in it, we can reverse engineer a map of the world.

    As Socrates once said: “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”

  4. Jasmine Torres Avatar
    Jasmine Torres

    @LD Alford what does taking a personality test and understanding your mind a little better or having a better understanding of yourself and how you handle things have to do with taking “God’s test”?? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Believing in God and passing whatever “tests” YOU believe everyone needs to pass does not give a person more validation then a person perhaps doesn’t believe in anything. I’d rather live with my fantasies and dreams then have none at all. I’d rather search lost and ask questions on the way then follow “found” blindly.

  5. Tamsen McMahon Avatar

    INTJ. I’m very rare. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think personality tests give us external touchpoints to test who we think we are. They give us an opportunity for internal questioning and debate, to see where our patterns fit those of others, and where we might find a new spin.

    I once worked with another INTJ–and you couldn’t imagine two more different people…which goes to show patterns of thinking and patterns of behavior are not as closely linked as we might guess.

  6. John Meadows Avatar

    In the course of my employment I’ve had to take so many of these tests. I’ve come to a point where I don’t particularly trust them, especially when I’ve taken the same test and had diametrically opposed results.

    I see the human psyche as much too complex and messy (in a good way) to be described accurately by what I would call “pop reductionism.”

    These tests can also be very dangerous if not used properly; people have been hurt and upset by the results, and may read too much into them.

    I also question the motives behind the tests in some cases. Are employers (for example) looking to sort us like eggs in a carton?

  7. Collette Avatar

    I’ve taken lots of personality tests, but the two that were professionally facilitated have been the only two that actually felt like they fit.

    the first one was called True Colours. I’m a green.

    the second was Myers-Briggs. I’m ENTJ.

    True Colours came at a time when I was pissed off at my boss for acknowledging my contributions by giving me bath bubbles. bubbles? you acknowledge four months of stress, tears, sweat, and anguish with fucking bubbles? that test helped me understand that as a green I need to be recognized differently than if I were a blue — which is what I’m sure she is. a green needs to know that you really get what I did and put into this project. a blue is happy with a less specific thank you. I still quit that job, but it eased my mind tons!

    I found out I was an ENTJ when I was really strugging after my divorce and my dad being sick with leukemia (he lived! but it was a long 18 months of terror.) the test really helped me understand why I was struggling, and it helped me ease off on being so hard on myself.

    I think all of these tests, even the professionally facilitated ones, need to be taken with a grain of salt. but, I really enjoy how they help me understand WHY I think the way I do, and how YOU may think and how I can relate and deal with it.

    so Julien, any hints as to what you are?

    as for my place in the world, I still don’t know what it is yet. but as an ENTJ (and with the facets that I know about because of the professionally facilitated test) I know that I can quit being frustrated over being a bit of a generalist. it’s actually what people like me simply are ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Amber Whitener Avatar

    According to the Jungian Typology: I am an ESFJ, Extroverted Sensing Feeling Judging. This means something like I want to like everybody, I strive to see others point of views and like to make people feel good about themselves. LOL, cheesy as it sounds, it’s probably true. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s funny that you mention personality tests for business. I don’t know if you’ve ever used ecademy, but they added a coloring systems to their profiles and categorize personalities this way. You can meet business partners who are “compatible with your personal style”! IMA “High Blue” (basically ESFJ). It’s kind of a new idea, but when you think about it, team building success is very dependent upon personality types getting along and complimentary strengths. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like your blog so far. I just came across it today, but I am definitely gonna follow your feed.

  9. Amber Whitener Avatar

    I am an ESFJ Extroverted Sensing Feeling Judging – according to a facebook test I had taken a little while back, this means that I’m warmly interested in others. I use my Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific, detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive judgments. I want to like people, and tend to be skilled at bringing out the best in others. I strive to understand other points of view. – As cheesy as this sounds, it’s kinda true.

    It’s interesting that you mention personality tests and how they can help you “find your place in the world”. On ecademy (a business focused social networking site) they came up with a profiling system that is supposed to help you find compatible business associates. I was measured as a “High Blue”. If you think about it, the success of team building depends upon a balance and cooperation of each personality type involved.

    I haven’t really found my place in the world yet either, perhaps I am too busy helping other people find theirs. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really like your blog, and your site has a great setup. It’s the first time I’ve been here, but I am definitely adding your RSS to my google reader.

    Keep it real.

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