The misleading problems with personality tests

Personality tests prove to be ineffective, inaccurate

By Nicole Kim and Harshitha Vijayakumar

Since when do 40 questions determine your personality? For many years, personality tests have been integrated into our society and have come to play a significant role in how we understand others. Many use personality tests to relate to others and the importance of what your personality type is, is evident in society. While personality tests can be an educational tool, society must be careful to not depend on these tests as they merely represent a moment in time. 

By far the most popular is the Myers-Briggs personality test (better known as MBTI); a personality test that assigns individuals a personality type based on four traits. It is used everywhere from the workplace to schools.

The MBTI examination is a great way for individuals to realize tendencies they possess are actually common traits. Acknowledging this allows people to recognize their characteristics, which can make them more self-aware. However, this test represents how an individual feels at a certain moment, making it inconsistent. Someone’s results may vary from month to month or even day to day, simply because humans change all the time. The personality test is inconsistent because it is purely subjective. In fact, many psychologists reject the Myer-Briggs test due to its unreliability. Despite this, the Myer-Briggs test remains popular in corporate America. This occurrence continues to prove how personality tests are not as reliable and accurate as people wish them to be. Society wants to believe these tests are accurate because all people want to understand themselves and others. The MBTI allows for this, whether it is accurate or not is up to interpretation

DISC Graphic: Graphic used to represent DISC personality tests (Photo by Illustration courtesy of My Disc Profile)

This can be seen again in Enneagram personality tests. The Enneagram personality test is a test that categorizes the test taker into 9 categories. After the test has been completed your results will state the percentage of compatibility to each category. 

               This test’s fault lies in the fact that the questions are so vague. Test takers are asked to rank the question provided as inaccurate, neutral or accurate. Similar to the MBTI, this test is entirely subject-based and results could change at any time given a different circumstance. While one question won’t change results greatly, answers could vary extremely over years. People change over time, gain new experiences, and obtain more knowledge which can alter their perspective.  

As people’s points of view develop, personality tests create a false narrative — that what your results once were, will always represent your personality. 

Another personality test that is used frequently to determine prospective hires is the DISC test. The DISC test consists of 4 categories: dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness.

            Once completed, this test will tell an individual about how they will do in certain workplace circumstances, specifically their tendencies and preferred environment. This test fails to assess certain skills, such as how someone might be able to work through problems, and it mainly focuses on their behaviors, not their potential contribution in the work environment. This information could be beneficial to people who work with others often or need help working with others, but this test doesn’t take into consideration all the aspects of a good team member, making it ineffective in picking a good candidate. 

Personality tests have been part of our society since teenagers would take them in magazines. We love to read about ourselves and personality tests fit right into human narcissism. While personality tests are entertaining, they are not entirely accurate and should not be perceived as binding. These tests represent a single moment in time and do not have the power to make a trait unchangeable. So while these tests may make good conversation, humans are constantly evolving and to limit a person to a closed personality is simply wrong.