Why personality tests can’t tell your type? 

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A friend of mine told me that she took a test online and defined her socio type. I personally don’t believe in any other tests but an interview, where person speaks freely, not chooses answers. If you google these tests you will find a bazillion of them of all sorts and kinds and all nonsense=) I mean, if you know a good one, please give me a link in comments, but I haven’t come across anything legit so far.

To prove myself, I decided to take a test=) Now, when I already know my type, I wanted to check whether an online test would define my type accurately. To be honest, I was thinking it would refer me to a type which is close to mine, and has same traits but introverted instead, while I belong to extraverted type. The result was shocking =) The test identified me as a type which was almost completely opposite from me. It also defined me as an introvert, as I expected. In addition to that, it claimed one of my strongest traits (in reality) was my PoLR (biggest weakness). Now that’s a brutal mistake.

I want to show you, why tests are wrong and how they can easily be misinterpreted. As an example I would like to take this test, which I was talking about just now and share with you. The test is on MBTI, its not quite the same as Socionics, but as I said, I was ready to accept a result which was “almost there” giving a “discount” for differences in approach. But the result was dramatically different from my type, even in MBTI.

The very first question made me pause and think:              Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 12.49.45 PM

Errm… define difficult? Am I shy? No. Do I not know what to say when I introduce myself? Yes. Do I believe my introduction is perfect every time? No. Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 12.56.40 PM

Better in what way? Let me ask the authors of this test another question: what is better red or round? I guess they ask “What would you rather prefer: to read a book or attend an event.” But! This is only my guess, I may be wrong! Author means one thing, but 3 different readers can read his question in 3 different ways. Same question here can be answered differently if I assume that the question is “What is better for self development?” or “What is better generally (e.g. for your child)?”

Now one of my favorites:

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I have a favor to ask. Please, write in comments, how many people is considered to be many for you? For some, standing up in a work meeting and presenting a project is talking in front of many people. If you ask me, work meetings are cool, cause for me many people is this:

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Photo Credit: Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra at Lincoln Center in New York, 2013

Now there it might take me longer to relax!

And the icing on the cake:

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A stressful situation by definition is a situation when you feel tensed and anxious. So how else this question can be answered?..

To keep it short, even from few examples above we see, that major challenges of online (or any written or multiple choice) tests are:

  1. No guarantee that the investigator and respondent understand questions in the same way
  2. Differences in perception of categories and definitions

Also, I strongly believe that no one can be and should be characterized by the way they answer 60 questions with a multiple choice. C’mon people, we are more complex than that! What about our upbringing? Childhood? Environment where we developed personality? Possible traumas?..  When I do interviews to identify people’s types, I pay attention not only to WHAT do they think, but also WHY do they think so. Example: there is a question in the test “If the room is full, do you stay closer to the walls, avoiding the center?” That supposed to show whether you are an introvert or an extravert. I know a person who was once attacked from the back. She spent long time in hospital and had many surgeries, all that resulted is a psychological trauma. Despite being an extravert she will choose to stay closer to the wall, because that way she feels protected from her back so nobody can attack her again. Test would show that she is an introvert, because it cannot get the real reason of her choice.

To conclude my point I would like to mention that when I answered only 1 question and skipped the rest, the test still gave me a result of a type. This proves, that the system is fully automized and silly, it doesn’t even recognize whether there is sufficient data to make a judgement.

I highly recommend to avoid online tests or at least please don’t take them seriously. Your personality was developing for so many years and in different circumstances. Only an interview with a specialist, a human who, apart from “yes or no” answers, can also look deeper, process non-verbal signs, facial expressions, tone of voice and body language, can be the most trusted tool to identify your Socio Type.

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