From: FiveThirtyEight

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. Take One That Isn’t.

What’s your personality, and what can it tell you about your true self? Those questions have launched a thousand online personality quizzes. But you can do better than those specious — yet irresistible — quizzes. You can take a personality quiz backed by science.

Meet the Big Five, the way most psychologists measure and test personality. It’s a system built on decades of research about how people describe one another and themselves. (You can read more about it in this article we published last year.) There are a couple of things that make it — and this quiz — different.

First, the Big Five doesn’t put people into neat personality “types,” because that’s not how personalities really work. Instead, the quiz gives you a score on five different traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, negative emotionality and openness to experience. For each of those traits, you’re graded on a scale from 0 to 100, depending on how strongly you associate with that trait. So, for example, this quiz won’t tell you whether you’re an extravert or an introvert — instead, it tells you your propensity toward extraversion. Every trait is graded on a spectrum, with a few people far out on the extremes and a lot of people in the middle.

Read the whole story: FiveThirtyEight


I recall in grad school once attributing an experiment’s outcome to personality. The remark was not well-received by my Behaviorist classmates: “That old saw, really? You actually believe in personality?” as if personality was a religious creed or something. How times change.

What I find amusing about personality as a topic of investigation and theorizing is how reticent we as a profession to attribute personality to our genes – the old person-situation dilemma. Although I likely fall in the same interactionist camp as my major professor, the late Saul Sells, I doubt that environmental stimuli will turn an introvert into an extrovert, or any polar opposite of a strong Big-5 dimension.

It is fascinating to see recent interest among my clinical colleagues in exploring Big-5 as a possible new model to replace that used by DSM5. I wonder if it will prove to be helpful as we learn more.

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