Online personality tests reveal one’s true nature


Katie Whaley

In the movie Life of Pi, protagonist Pi struggles with finding his identity. He goes on a long journey of self-discovery, which turns sour when his ship sinks and he becomes stranded on a lifeboat. For the rest of his expedition, he spends 227 days stuck on the lifeboat, floating around the ocean with a temperamental Bengal tiger. Throughout the film, Pi battles with figuring out who he is and what he wants to do in his life.
Although sophomore Jocelyn Heimsoth isn’t crossing any oceans or befriending any wildcats, she is on an odyssey of self-exploration, too. But instead of spending seven months at sea, she clicked on the Google icon and searched “personality tests.” One hundred questions later, she had an answer for who she was.
Extroverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving, Heimsoth is what calls a campaigner, meaning she is enthusiastic, creative, sociable and can always find a reason to smile. Heimsoth agrees with her results for the most part, saying the test was overall entertaining and exciting.
“I enjoy taking these tests because sometimes you can learn something about yourself that you didn’t already know. You can find out what you’re most likely going to do in certain situations,” Heimsoth said. “It’s also really fun to find out the similarities you have with your friends and family members and find out how alike and different everyone is.”

The Test – Where People Find Themselves

The quiz Heimsoth took, and many other students have taken, is called the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a popular questionnaire that indicates psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The assessment tests subjects on their preferences in four different categories: extroversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling and judging versus perception.
Despite the fact that students enjoy this test, Dr. Laura A. King a professor at the University of Missouri, believes the MBTI is unreliable and does not accurately represent the true psychological tendencies of subjects. The evaluation was created by two women who had no training in psychology or assessment, King explains, and they based the questions off of Carl Jung’s book on psychological types, which King no longer considers relevant.
[vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjJodHRwJTNBJTJGJTJGd3d3LmJlYXJpbmduZXdzLm9yZyUyRndwLWNvbnRlbnQlMkZ1cGxvYWRzJTJGMjAxNyUyRjAyJTJGUGVyc29uYWxpdHktdHJhaXRzLTAxLTAxLmpwZyUyMiUyMCUyRiUzRSUzQ2ltZyUyMHNyYyUzRCUyMmh0dHAlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuYmVhcmluZ25ld3Mub3JnJTJGd3AtY29udGVudCUyRnVwbG9hZHMlMkYyMDE3JTJGMDIlMkZQZXJzb25hbGl0eS10cmFpdHMtMDEtMDEuanBnJTIyJTIwYWx0JTNEJTIyUGVyc29uYWxpdHklMjBUcmFpdHMlMjIlMkYlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNF[/vc_raw_html]“The MBTI is not a valid measure of personality, and there is no evidence that the ‘types’ it identifies are real. Think about it — a person can differ from someone by just one point, and the two might be considered ‘different types’ based on whatever cutoffs they use. There is, in fact, little scientific evidence that these types are stable,” Dr. King said. “The MBTI is [more of a source of] fun than anything else, and for some reason people really like to be put into these types. That’s probably the more interesting question. Why?”
One answer to King’s question lies in sophomore Isabel Thoroughman. After taking the test, Thoroughman reflected on what it taught her, and she came to the conclusion that the test helped better her understanding of herself and of others.
“I like knowing how I compare to the other types and my friends and family. It’s cool seeing the differences and uniqueness to everyone,” Thoroughman said. “I think it’s interesting how different personality types complement each other like how an introvert and extrovert would. Or if you have a group of people with the different [personality types and combinations] they can accomplish a lot and figure out how to work as a team.”

A World Split In Two

The biggest and most commonly known distinction in the MBTI test is the first category: extroverts and introverts. Myers & Briggs Foundation describes an extrovert as a person who gains energy through being around other people, while introverts become energized by being alone. In 2012, Scientific American conducted a study and concluded that extroverts outnumber introverts three to one in the United States. Despite this disproportion, Dr. Jeffrey Penick from Central Washington University sees this variation as something that should be celebrated and believes both types of people should be recognized equally.
“Both have strengths that should be appreciated. There are some jobs that suit introverts better. However, in the United States, in our Western-European, individualistic society there does seem to be greater appreciation for the benefits of an outgoing personality,” Dr. Penick said. “In the U.S., we seem to value the warm, outgoing nature of extroverts in most situations, while the quietness or shyness of introversion is seen as a weakness by many. Most work situations favor extroverts.”
Junior Connor Buckley sees himself as more of an extrovert, since he enjoys meeting new people and thrives when talking to groups of people. He prefers being open to people and discovering the unique stories those around him have. Though he finds pleasure in chatting with others and believes it benefits a person to communicate often with peers, he understands and respects those who are more quiet and reserved.
“[Being] extroverted [can be helpful] because you will have a better set of networking skills for getting a job. Most people get jobs through knowing people, and being extroverted helps with growing your network of people. Introverted people could struggle to find jobs from not knowing a lot of people or being too shy,” Buckley said. “[Yet] I think that you could benefit from being either [extroverted or introverted]. There are different opportunities for both. Extroverted people might get to do something on a large stage or in front of a group instead of something behind the scenes like an introverted person would prefer, and either route is a great experience.”
Living as an introvert, Thoroughman sometimes feels overwhelmed with the world around her. She gets weary after hanging out in large groups of people and generally prefers to stay away from large crowds. Thinking about how to act in a group situation is tiring, she explains, and having to respond to others can start to feel burdensome. Though some may view this as strange, it’s important to Thoroughman to have time to herself, even if people perceive her reserved and shy character as snobbish.
“Usually I explain that when I get annoyed it’s just because I need space and time to myself and it’s not because of others. If I spend a lot of time around people, I have a lot of fun, but I need to recharge after because I thrive off of time to myself,” Thoroughman said. “Introverts don’t have to always have company and are perfectly fine alone, to an extent, and that can be a benefit. It’s actually kind of weird thinking about the benefits [of being introverted]. Usually I think about the cons because it’s a more extroverted world.”
Though their journeys of self-discovery weren’t Oscar-winning movies like Life of Pi, both Thoroughman and Heimsoth found out more about themselves through taking the personality test. Both say they enjoyed the test process and are interested to see what personality type their friends are.
“I think that it’s really nice to see how I’ve developed as the person I am and what [others] might expect from me,” Heimsoth said. “It’s even more interesting when some of the predictions about who you are are wrong, and that, in a way, you aren’t what people say you are.”
Infographic by Dzung Nguyen
What’s your personality? Click here and take the test!