An Important Word on Personality Tests

personality test

Have you ever taken a personality test? In a random Google search, I found over thirty, free online personality tests. Overwhelming, to say the least. Why did I type the words “best personality test” into Google search in the first place? I think it is because the person I see in the mirror can sometimes still feel like a mystery, and I want to know her better than I do. This clarity and understanding is what personality tests promise, and it is something we are all after.

There is no question that this generation is interested, perhaps even obsessed, with knowing where they best fit. It does not take more than a minute of mindless scrolling on Facebook for a personality test to be presented. Some are helpful, while other tests are just clickbait, sucking each victim into their baseless assumptions. Titles like “What Your Favorite Food Says About Your Personality,” and “This 4-Question Quiz Will Tell You If You Are Happy” are everywhere you look. What’s worse: They can be taken seriously.

It’s clear, more than ever, that getting ahold of who we really are is the desire of many — especially during a time when it seems not much else can be controlled.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. Knowing oneself is a powerful thing. Personality tests are incredibly helpful tools for discovering why we do what we do, how we interact with others, and the lives we prefer living. I remember, years ago, the first time I took an official Myers-Briggs Personality Test. My results were just a few letters (INFJ for the curious), or so I thought. As I began reading the explanation of my results, I for Introverted, N for Intuitive, F for Feeling, and J for Judging … I felt understood.

personality test 2

Through this test, I was given the language for not only understanding myself in a deeper way, but helping others to do the same. I began exploring what careers and personality types I would be most compatible with. I discovered the common fears people with the same results experience. I uncovered a whole new, and foreign world of personality placement. The more I searched, and the more I learned, the feeling of understanding slowly morphed into feeling a bit confined.

What at first was just a tool, though, eventually turned into a label.

This label started to feel more like a box, and I began to quietly doubt some decisions, friendships, and directions I had chosen. Here is the problem with that: Those things were good for me. Yet, because they did not “fit” into my personality description, I began to doubt more than ever, if I knew myself as much as I hoped I did. After taking a breath and a few steps away from this results-based approach, I learned something.

I am more than just a type. I am not just my perspective. Human beings are complex, and an online test does not sum us up. We are not just our personality test results. In fact, because we are human, we are constantly changing and growing. Our test results change and the way we approach life does, too. Why do we insist on treating ourselves and one another like we are static — fixed, changeless, without movement? The lessons we learn do not have to become walls, boxing us in. Instead, let’s treat those moments of understanding like doors to walk through. If learning about ourselves through personality tests can teach us anything, it is that there is still so much yet to be discovered.

In fact, because we are human, we are constantly changing and growing. Our test results change and the way we approach life does, too.

Drake Baer from Business Insider said, “I prefer to not just look at the traits we have but the deeds we do, the projects we pursue, as more of a fruitful inroad into human personality.” Personality test results are just a few bricks in the building of the lives we want. Ultimately, who we are is seen in how we treat ourselves and the world around us.

Sometimes, life calls for a shift in our normal approach so that we can really succeed. An extroverted person may need to be introverted for a time in order to prepare for a big exam. This does not define them. A naturally-spontaneous person may need to pull in the reins a bit and become more structured to accommodate a new baby. This will only serve them.

Taking a personality test is doing yourself a favor. It can help answer hard questions about why you do what you do, and it can add to your overall self-awareness — an underrated and invaluable trait. But let us not become too quick to sum ourselves up in a few letters, or assume that our test results completely define who we are. What we need and how we’re inclined as human beings is just as important as how we treat others and the ways we extend ourselves and embrace change.

Take hold of the tools offered to you in life, but every now then, feel free to put them back in the shed and get out and live. And don’t fret, how much you know about the show Friends, will not have a direct hand in how well you perform in your next interview. Only you do.

What do you think? Are personality tests given too much authority?

Images via Judith Marilyn by 2nd Truth

Victoria is a pastor, blogger, and freelance writer who lives in the Bay Area with her husband Reed. She is passionate about womanhood, creativity, spirituality, and learning how to savor life. You can find more about her and read her work over on her website Victoria, Truthfully.

10 COMMENTS
  • Jenifer March 30, 2017

    Nice article. You are so right. It is easy for people to give too much authority to the test results, especially when we first see ourselves defined so clearly. I have not spent much time on personality tests but I have used the enneagram extensively in my self-studies and in helping me understand others. The way I see it, the enneagram actually describes or maps out the ego (what you are NOT). It’s helped me see how my ego keeps me limited and understand how I can be more compassionate and supportive of myself by accepting my fears and my self-limiting thoughts for what they are, and offering myself other choices. Even in the enneagram, like other tests, a person can get lost in labeling and forget the potential freedom being offered.

  • Alyssa March 4, 2017

    About two months ago, I found out that I am an ENFJ. Yes, I spent some crazy amount of time researching character traits and tendencies of my personality type, and some of it did not apply. But, overall, I was blessed by understanding more about the person God made me. I love people. I’m super emotional. I feel ALL the feels — mine and everyone else’s. I was born to be a teacher. I’m imaginative, creative and prefer to be in control. I’ve never really met anyone exactly like me before, and it was neat to read that there are people out there similar to me.

    But, even as fun and exciting it is to understand more about myself, the whole “label” issue has not affected me to the degree that it does some. I am an ENFJ, but I am also created in the image of God to honor, glorify, and enjoy him forever. That is my true identity; I am worth so much more than simply a couple of letters. And my brothers and sisters in Christ are infinitely more like me than every ENFJ on the planet. For that I am so thankful.

    Thanks for this article, Darling!

  • Salma Shah March 4, 2017

    I’m a big fan of personality tests and use them with my clients all the time. However with the caveat that they are just one lens as to who we are. MBTI is a really powerful one however it doesn’t pick how neurotic, secure or anxious prone someone. Although I recall when I was trained in MBTI a lot of things made sense around my work aspirations, communication style.

  • Thulasie Manoharan March 3, 2017

    Hello Charmaine!
    I took the MBTI Personality Test last year and also got an INFJ, but I think eventually I found myself a little annoyed at the idea of being just that “an INFJ”. It also sort of made me feel a little bad. So I stoped reading everything about it and started doing just the things I loved in my own way! I think I was in need of an article like this to confirm the way I was feeling. Thank you!

  • Priscilla March 3, 2017

    I love the MBTI. Discovering my type (INFP) helped me value why I see things then way I do, and find like-minded people. But at the same time, I do agree that people can sometimes take it too far, failing to realize that just because people fall into the same personality type doesn’t mean they all have the same values and opinions. If you’re not careful, it can become a label. So I try to just focus on the positive aspects of it, like the fact that it helps me understand how people are wired a little better -even if it isn’t a perfect description. 🙂

  • Sarah Horgan March 3, 2017

    I am currently in the middle of studying the Ennegram with a group of my closets girlfriends. We are using it as a study to learn more about ourselves and others. We are discovering that the more you understand about the way other people process information and what they are motivated by, the easier it is to love them (the real them, not who we think they ought to be).

    The thing I like about the Ennegram is that it not only presents you with your personality type, it also helps you in becoming the healthiest version of the unique you. I agree that there is danger in putting yourself into a box. When you start to dismiss your shortcomings by simply saying, “Oh, that’s just because I’m a…” is when things get messy.

    • Victoria March 3, 2017

      Sarah that is so interesting! Thanks for sharing! I completely agree, as we grow in self-awareness, we become healthier human beings. The key is in not allowing test results to become the box we live in, the label we wear, or the constant excuse we give. Appreciate your comment!

    • Kelly Summers March 3, 2017

      I’m also loving the Enneagram so much. The thing I love about it is that it’s more of a teaching of this is the personality your mind has conformed to based on your life circumstances, but if you learn it and know your common tendencies, you can also choose to act differently than your first reaction. It’s really freeing to me. I am a 6, but I don’t have to fall into the habits of a 6 in every single situation.

  • I get what you’re saying. But I think we as humans like to group ourselves up or we like to understand every possible thing, so personality tests somehow offer that outlet. I’m INTJ and I actually match the majority of the traits mentioned. I like taking these tests because they’re interesting, but I make sure not to live by them.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Victoria March 3, 2017

      Hi Charmaine! Personality tests are so interesting! And helpful! I just think it’s important to see them as tools and not the summation of who we are. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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