I took a bunch of personality tests and here’s what I got

Pseudoscience vs. Actual Science

Collegian+File+Photo
Back to Article
Back to Article

I took a bunch of personality tests and here’s what I got

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Ben Connolly, Collegian Staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Do you ever hear people call themselves an “INFP” or an “ESTP?” If there’s one thing that turns me into a grumpy old coot (and honestly, there are many things, but I felt like writing an article about this one), it’s when people cite pseudoscientific personality tests. So, I thought it would be fun to take a bunch of online personality tests (that you can take yourself at no cost) and compare them to an actual, scientifically valid personality exam.

Myers-Briggs

The Myers-Briggs is probably the most famous personality test and is often associated with Carl Jung, despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the test. This quiz, which the official website calls the “16 personalities exam”, a very similar test to the actual Myers-Briggs, was quite brief, and upon finishing declared me to be an “Architect” or Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging with an additional Assertive modifier (INTJ-A). The test also gave me a nice little blurb explaining what that means, claiming that I am an assertive and confident analyzer. I didn’t find a problem with what this test claimed; what it said about me was fairly accurate, but its scope is limited. Compared to an actual personality exam, just assigning someone Introvert or Extrovert is needlessly binary. The categories are flawed given their lack of distinct definition. What’s the difference between “Thinking” and “Sensing?” The definitions that are given are not clear enough.

Zodiac

So, I know this isn’t really a test, but over the course of last year I met four “astrology experts” and they all guessed my sign within an hour of meeting me. This was an unsolicited guess by the way, they all just felt like sharing. Apparently, I give off big Leo energy. I used this natal chart to expand upon my Zodiac predictions, but this got rather overwhelming as it gives pages-worth of detail, more so than any other personality test I’ve taken. I found all the info after my Sun sign, the one is most commonly mentioned, to be all over the place and not helpful nor illuminating. Yet, my Leo personality prediction is definitely accurate for the most part, even if the idea of your time of birth dictating your personality is ridiculous.

Hogwarts House

J.K. Rowling herself claims that this test is legit, but man was it disappointing. I expected the questions to have some relevance to, you know, personality, but I was evidently incorrect. Lowlights include questions like: “Moon or Stars?” which was the first one I got. Another time, the quiz asked what pet I would take to Hogwarts and gave about a dozen options, all of which were canon-accurate variants of owls, toads, and cats. So I guess every wizard student’s preference toward certain animal breeds is a determining housing factor. The thing that angered me the most, however, was that I was put in Hufflepuff when I’m clearly a Slytherin. No disrespect, but I’m no badger, maybe a burrowing snake at best.

Spirit Shark

One of BuzzFeed’s trending quizzes at the time I took it, “We Know What Type of Shark You Are” was, despite my initial reservations about BuzzFeed, quite an entertaining experience. The quiz was brief and asked simple questions about your favorite climate, how many countries you’ve been to, and your opinion on the law. I got the “Shortfin Mako,” a speedy, adventurous type. Quite accurate I think, given my tendency to spontaneously dart around at speeds of 45 miles per hour. I was especially relieved since I thought I was going to get the “Not-So-Great White” shark.

IPIP-NEO

The IPIP (international personality item pool) is, unlike all the other personality tests mentioned above, scientifically validated and standardized. There is a short and long version the IPIP-NEO of 120 & 300 questions respectively. I took both versions and I think the short test will suit you just fine, although the longer one delivers a more nuanced personality description. The quiz breaks your personality up into five broad categories: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, and Extraversion (collectively called the Big 5), and few subcategories for each trait. The results are given in terms of your percentile compared to all others that took the exam. For example, I got 99th percentile in the Consciousness trait, the trait about work ethic. The means I got in the top one percent of all test takers in that category. On the contrary, in the Agreeableness trait, I got placed in the first percentile, or the bottom one percent of all test takers. I landed in the fourth percentile for Neuroticism, 90th in the Openness category, and in Extraversion, I was in the 55th percentile, a less extreme value compared to my other scores. The subcategory results are given in percentiles too. For example, a subcategory of Consciousness is Cheerfulness, which I was placed in the 12th percentile. I’m a pessimist, I guess. Although this exam doesn’t give you a cool name for your personality like, “Architect” “Challenger” or “Shortfin Mako” with an accompanying explanatory paragraph, you can find plenty of scientific literature on your traits to deepen your understanding of personality.

Ben Connolly can be reached at [email protected].