Are online personality tests accurate? Let's talk about how Buzzfeed, Myers-Briggs, and other personality tests talk about us.
The only person who knows you better than yourself is obviously that 10-question quiz on Buzzfeed that tells you which Disney princess you are.
Other than the trustworthiness of click bait, can an online quiz actually tell you more about yourself than you already knew?
I set to find out.
I’m someone who rolls their eyes at the “Find Out Which Fall Out Boy Song You Would Be If Ariel Was Actually a Lesbian After The Battle of the Five Armies and it was a Wednesday” articles, claiming they’re complete BS because there’s no way a quiz can accurately describe your personality with just 10 questions. Then I actually take the quiz because I like to have reassurance that, yes, I am Belle and would have a huge library at my disposal.
I know these Buzzfeed quizzes are for fun, but what about actual personality tests that ask you invasive questions and make you go to bed feeling naked?
I’m talking about the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator personality test.
For those who don’t know, the Myer-Briggs test was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, based on research by psychotherapist Carl Jung, which aims to explain different personalities.
This test asks you how much you agree or disagree with certain statements on a scale. It then tells you if you’re more extroverted vs. introverted, intuition vs. sensing, feeling vs. thinking, and perceiving vs. judging and gives you a 4-letter result out of 16 possibilities.
I know a lot of businesses use this test to make judgments on their employees. My father works for a big automotive company and he said they use the test to find out how their employees like to receive information (spreadsheet vs. explanation), how to approach them with different tasks (asking vs. delegating), the best way to ask about their ideas (openly in a room full of people vs. writing ideas down), and a few other things.
It’s intriguing to learn how so many big businesses use a 4-letter combination to categorize employees. It seems helpful.
Then I got suspicious (okay, I’m always suspicious, but this time there was added vigor). One personality test couldn’t be that helpful, that accurate, that precise, all the time right?
I decided to take the test to find out for myself. (Actually, it costs $50 so I took a few tests modeled after the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator.)
Here’s what Human Metrics told me.
I’m an ENFP (Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving) and an INFP (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving).
“You have marginal or no preference of Extroversion over Introversion (1%)
You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (50%)
You have moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking (44%)
You have slight preference of Perceiving over Judging (13%)”
As an ENFP, Myer Briggs told me I’m an “idea” people and and a “people” people. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
It said many are journalists and have a tendency to be good at math, which is eerily spot on.
The idea that we can be completely professional and serious one moment and then flip a switch and be captain sillypants is also a home-run finding.
We’re apparently sympathetic, spontaneous, and need space to follow our heart’s desire for whatever we’re currently obsessing over. Ten points to Myer-Briggs.
We excel at understanding people’s feelings and human relationships. I 100 percent agree. Although, I don’t agree with the statement that ENFPs are driven by wanting to help people and be an asset. I like helping people and I want to be useful, yes, but I’m pretty selfish and don’t always think people are deserving of my help.
Do I “require company in everything I do?” Hell no. There comes a time in my day when I’ve had way too much human interaction and all I want to do is watch YouTube, or read, or write. Only my mind is allowed.
Can I “communicate with people with different personality types?” It gets easier every day. I’ve always been good at talking with people, even though I have a speech impediment.
ENFPs have an “extensive and diverse circle of friends and acquaintances.” For the most part, yes. I tend to make friends with people who society deems ”weird” and more often than not, they’re much better and interesting friends than people who are “normal.”
ENFPs get irritated by the other party’s “inability to understand,” which hit me right in the head and heart with accuracy.
According to Human Metrics, we’re good at earning people’s trust. They failed to mention it was so when we overthrow the world, we have a large following.
We get distracted easily and dislike doing small, uninteresting tasks. Very true.
We’re overrepresented in psychodrama? Basically, we like being the center of attention and I 80 percent agree with that.
Strongly influenced by opinions of friends? Yes, and it’s actually a trait I’d rather not have. I don’t want to be easily influenced, and I know my ability to think and feel for someone else’s opinions and ideas work completely against that.
However, “thinking is not suited to be used as a prominent function”? I 100 percent disagree. I think too much about things.
Journalist/Reporter was the first one, and is what I currently get paid to do.
Literature and writing was on there, and I’m very passionate about both those subjects.
Also, fitness was on there and I strongly identify with that.
As an INFP, Human Metrics said…
I always have a huge sense of wonder. Agreed.
Absentminded and other wordly? Absolutely. One does not simply always pay attention in Hannah’s mind.
Caught between a world of reality and fantasy? Spot on. I don’t wear my “I believe in unicorns” necklace for craps and laughs.
Apparently, I have a fear of a “failed sense of competence,” which I do agree with. However, it goes on to say that my internal battle rages on with a war of Good v. Evil, and stressing about ethical perfection. That’s a little extreme. I recognize my ethics, but I’m not ruled by my worries over them.
They compared us to Luke Skywalker’s inner conflict of Good v. Evil, which I was very happy with. (hey there, fiction mixing with reality or using fiction/fantasy/sci-fi to give confirmation to better understand reality).
Graphic design, multimedia, literature and writing were the careers chosen for INFPs. There were more, but those were the ones I identified with. I studied all those in school.
There was much more description for ENFP than INFP, which irked me. I identified more with INFPs, but I’d love to be more outgoing like ENFPs.
I was very moderate with these findings because it asked questions like would you rather go out with friends or read a book in your leisure time and the answer is it depends on my mood. I’m ruled by my emotions. I usually call myself an introvert with extroverted tendencies because my mood and attitude usually depend on my environment and who I’m with. I never perfectly embody one category. I don't think anyone can.
Do I follow my feelings or reason when presented with an option? It depends on the option.
This really solidifies how many of my decisions are based off my feelings. I’m such an F.
Overall, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator was pretty accurate. I took another test on Personality Test modeled after the Myer-Briggs test and received the same result: INFP. Getting the same results numerous times means a test is reliable. Read about Myer-Briggs reliability and validity here.
I couldn’t say for sure if it should be used in a business setting, but I can tell you I have the next three chapters of my book planned and I have about 20 tabs open on my computer right now (I’m an absent-minded INFP, after all.)
You can take the test I took that modeled after Myer Briggs on Human Metrics or Personality Test.
Take them and tell me what personality type you are! INFPs unite!
I took a few more personality tests, purely for scientific inquiry, I promise.
How Emotionally Intelligent are you?
I got 14/20 and feel like the quiz missed out on a lot of context. when you’re having a conversation with someone and you’re trying to gage their emotions, you don’t only look at their face. You take in what they say, read all body language, take context into account, and asses accordingly.
“Your score means you're slightly better than the average at reading expressions. And research suggests that people can improve their emotion recognition skills with practice. So keep an eye out for our forthcoming empathy training tool, designed to boost your emotional intelligence.Sign up for our e-newsletter for updates on it.”
I will not sign up for your e-newsletter. However, even though I got a lot wrong, it had great information on how faces look when expressing a certain emotion. 6/10 (mostly for the reading faces lesson)
I kind of recommend taking this test here.
“You Just Get Me” personality test
“You are very dependable and almost always follow through with your commitments. You value different and aesthetic experiences more than the average person. You tend to be relaxed in most situations and can handle stress well. You are typically respectful toward others and dislike confrontation. You show some tendency toward being outgoing and sociable.”
Apparently, I’m more emotionally than neurotic, more extroverted than introverted, more disciplined than casual, more abstract than concrete, and more cooperative than competitive.
This is a pretty accurate assessment (from my own judgement), but no way is 40 questions enough to accurately gage someone’s personality. Still, it’s an impressively accurate result, which aligns with the Myer-Briggs results.
I give this test an 8/10.
Take the “You Just Get Me” personality test here.
All in all, personality tests are fun and filling, but there are two major holes in this cheese.
Assessing yourself means you’re biased and you have no way to accurately judge how you come across to the world. You only can go by what you believe.
The second hole is confirmation bias.
Usually people hear about these tests from other people who tell them “You’re definitely an ENTP” or “I bet you hate talking with ESTJs.” Because of this, people already have some idea of what their outcome will be and while they’re taking the test, they subliminally pick answers based on what they think their results will be, therefore titling the outcome a certain way.
While I know these tests can’t tell me everything about myself, I enjoy taking them and reaffirming that I am indeed Belle and I will find my prince in a castle with a giant, beautiful library.
Take the tests and tell me your results! INFPs unite!