When personality tests rely on flawed theories

The most popular personality tests falsely assume that people can be classified into personality types—a theoretical framework that has been thoroughly discredited. These tests—the Myers-Briggs, the DiSC, the Color Test, and the Enneagram—all attempt to categorize people into contrived types.

Asking someone if they’re an introvert or an extrovert isn’t the right way to approach personality. People don’t fit into neat boxes; they can’t be classified into “entirely introverted” or “entirely extraverted.”

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3 warnings signs to consider before using a personality test

fastcompany.com

People can vary in degrees from low to high on a given trait. Currently, the most scientifically supported theory is the Big 5, which identifies the degree to which someone is open to new experiences, conscientious, extraverted, agreeable, and emotionally stable.

But even most Big 5 tests still use a traditional Likert-type scale, which asks participants to rate themselves “on a scale of 1 to 5.” Scientists have been aware for decades that this measurement method is fraught with biases.

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Most personality tests rely on flawed assumptions about the stability of personality. Scientists have begun to realize and find evidence that personality changes not only throughout one’s lifetime, but even throughout the day.

Depending on the situation you’re in at any given moment, your behavior will reflect your personality differently. In other words, even if you used a highly accurate measure of personality and got a score of top 10% in your “agreeableness” trait, that won’t hold in all situations.

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This is a phenomenon wherein people tend to perceive vague, abstract personality statements to be highly accurate and personally relevant, despite a lack of scientific evidence.

This is why a lot of people, when talking about personality tests results, say "oh, but it sounds so accurate, and it helped me discover who I am!"

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