It’s funny how once you get to know someone, it becomes easy to peg them: “Oh, Sara’s not like that.” “Ah, James, he’s a different type.” But when it comes to ourselves, it seems we’re on a never-ending quest of self-discovery.
This is why it makes sense that personality tests are so popular. “Who am I?” we cry. “What is my work style? With whom should I go on a date?” And thus we look for answers in the form of ENTJ, INFP and the like.
Even 16 Personalities ― the newfangled, 12-minute version of the famous Myers-Briggs personality test ― has been taken more than 50 million times, its website proclaims, even as people wonder if its assessments really are true. The free test combines a number of personality theories to categorize takers as types including the “logician,” the “virtuoso,” and the “consul.” The site charges $33 for a premium profile with access to a deeper explanation of a given personality type, such as what its parenting style might be, how a person should navigate their career, and how to make more friends ― all based on your personality.
But this is where we call BS: Personality tests mean nothing. Nothing!
In fact, the aforementioned and ever-popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a 93-question quiz that assigns one of sixteen personality types, was created in 1945 by two women with no formal training in psychology. Yet the quiz is used time and time again, even employed in job interviews, despite the fact that a person could take it today and be labeled one type, then take it next month and be another.
So here’s the bottom line: Personality tests are sort of like paying for a clairvoyant or reading horoscopes. It’s a fun thing to do, but not something to be taken seriously. You can be extroverted, but also need an hour to yourself every day. You could score overly logical in this moment, but turn out another assessment that states you’re highly intuitive. You could be answering a certain way because you’re thrilled with life right now, down in the dumps or answering questions based on how you think you’d like to be.
But chances are, you’re probably just human (robots need not apply here), which means your personality is as dynamic as it gets.