Personality Tests: Proceed with Caution

There are two types of people in this world. Those who love personality tests such as Meyers-Briggs, the Temperaments, the Love Languages, the Colors, etc, etc, and those who hate them. The former group will say that they love personality tests because they provide valuable insights which help you to understand both yourself and others. The latter will explain that they despise personality tests and types because they put people in boxes.

As with anything, much of it comes down to your attitude. If you take a free, online personality test, receive a result, and embrace your personality diagnosis so much that it becomes your identity, and you only act in accordance with the prediction of your newfound personality type, that is an unhealthy extreme. That is placing yourself in a box. If you use it to put others in boxes, and as way to avoid having to actually get to know people, that is also an unhealthy extreme, and an example of having the wrong attitude towards them. Personality tests are not meant to be a shortcut to getting to know people, or a definition that applies to every person with the same result.

So, what is the purpose of personality tests? And what is the proper attitude? Personality tests are meant to be a tool that can enhance your understanding of people on a deeper level. Personality tests are not all-encompassing and do not claim to be. Each of them measures different aspects of a person. Some are specifically designed to evaluate people’s suitability to certain work environments, some of them look at people’s instinctive, unchanging dispositions and natural reactions, and some look at the ways people give and receive love, and on and on. They do not claim to be the key to understanding all aspects of a person, and if you come across one that does it is probably not credible.

People are complex, complicated, incomparable entities. One of the mysteries of life is that we will never be able to fully understand another person. However, the science of psychology makes a study of the human mind and how it works and can make certain conclusions based off those observations. These conclusions can be used to help us understand certain aspects of both ourselves and others. So, for example, instead of abusing personality tests by taking every single word to heart and feeling pressured to make sure that you identify with each part of your personality description, a better way to use it is as a guide. For example, once you identify your personality type you can study about the observed strengths and weaknesses of this type. This is one way that knowing your personality type can provide some perspective for you which can help on the path of self-improvement. In a similar way, they can be very useful in improving communication skills between people who are naturally very different.

The first part in understanding personality tests is realizing that, like anything, they are a tool that can be used well or poorly. It is up to you. So, now that you have been forewarned to proceed with caution… go take some tests and do some self-discovery! A good one to start with is the Meyers-Briggs 16 personality types.

By Colleen McCrum

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