What makes you be you?
To answer that question you must scrutinize your personality.
Personality is what defines us and differentiates us from others, what makes us unique and qualifies our reactions to the world. It is the pattern of attitudes, feelings and thoughts that characterizes us and remains relatively stable over time.
Personality characteristics allow us to estimate the impact that certain events will have on us and, at the same time, predict how we will respond to certain events. For that reason, psychologists have spent decades designing different ways of knowing the personality.
What can a personality test tell you?
Personality tests are structured in a series of questions in the form of a questionnaire or ambiguous images, known as projective tests, aimed at evaluating different aspects of the personality.
Many of the modern classifications and personality tests are derived from the theory of Carl Jung, who published in 1921 the book “Psychological Types” in which he created four functional categories to describe the personality: sensation, intuition, thought and feeling.
In fact, one of the best-known personality tests developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers is based on Jung’s theory of personality. The test was designed in 1943 to support the recruitment of the workforce during World War II.
Briggs and Myers did not intend to put people into rigid categories, but instead envisioned the inventory as a way to help people better understand their strengths and qualities so that they could make the most of them.
Basically, they wanted to show that everyone could be good at something. With just four letters, Briggs and Myers created a simple, positive framework that helps us get to know each other better. They relied on four traits to study personality:
• Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)
• Intuition (N) or Sensation (S)
• Thought (T) or Feeling (F)
• Judgment (J) or Perception (P)
According to the answers to the test, are established 16 personality types that serve to better describe the way of being of each person and their preferences.
Another of the most used personality tests in the field of Psychology was developed by Raymond Bernard Cattell. Since 1943, he started developing an instrument that would measure the fundamental dimensions of personality.
For this, he started from the works of Allport and Odbert, who had found in the dictionary about 4,000 adjectives referring to the human personality. Upon careful inspection, he grouped them into 180 categories, which he later narrowed down to 45 and finally 16.
The 16 factors that Catell proposed to assess personality were: warmth, reasoning, emotional stability, dominance, liveliness, rule-consciousness, social boldness, sensitivity, vigilance, abstractedness, privateness, apprehension, openness to change, self-reliance, perfectionism, and tension.
When extreme deviations occur in the test, they are taken as evidence of personality maladjustments. Those second order factors are: anxiety, emotional instability, aggressiveness, tension or frustration.
Of course, there are many other personality tests, but basically all of them try to establish a picture as accurate as possible of the characteristics, traits, preferences and tendencies of the person, both in the relationship with himself and in the interactions with others and with the environment.
Thus, a personality test can reveal the degree to which you express or repress your feelings, your level of introversion or extroversion in interpersonal relationships, how rational or impulsive you are when making decisions, how important you give to your intuition, the degree of commitment you show in a task or how much you enjoy new experiences.
Knowing your personality type: What benefits can it bring you?
• It is a more objective starting point for personal discovery
We all have an optimistic bias when we value ourselves. That means we tend to see ourselves in a much more positive light. We shine a light on our strengths and try to hide our shortcomings. We do not always do it consciously, it is often a trap that our ego sets us. However, if we do not recognize and accept our shadows, we will not be able to grow.
In those cases, answering honestly the questions of a personality test could give us a more objective picture of ourselves. It could help us to understand, for example, that we are excessively sensitive to criticism, too demanding of ourselves or that we are closed to change. That knowledge will help us to detect the areas that we can improve.
• It provides explanations to help you understand yourself better
Maybe you’ve always hated crowded parties, public speaking, or feeling pressured, but you’ve never really understood why. Or maybe you have always needed more time than others to make a decision or feel comfortable in new situations and you thought that it was a problem.
A personality test can give an answer to those questions that you have always asked yourself about yourself. It will help you better understand certain traits, trends and preferences, as well as those things that you dislike or have trouble dealing with. If you do an exercise of introspection, you may even be able to uncover the life events that contributed to consolidating these personality traits, which will provide some logic and meaning to your life.
• It facilitates making important decisions in life
A personality test will allow you to better understand your strengths and weaknesses. It is like a microscope focused on you that will bring out your qualities and preferences. It will allow you to have a clearer image of who you are at that moment, which could make it easier for you to make important decisions in life.
Being aware of your qualities, for example, will allow you to choose a career according to your interests in which you can give the best of yourself or opt for a job in which you feel comfortable and can shine. It will also allow you to plan your vital roadmap, choose the people who complement you and with whom you feel most comfortable, or opt for those experiences that will really fill you up. As a result, you will end up feeling happier and more satisfied with your decisions.
• A source of new challenges to continue growing as a person
The Forer Effect, also called the personal validation fallacy, occurs when you strictly believe statements that might actually be true to many other people. In that case, you could end up letting those statements condition your life and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Therefore, if you take a personality test, it is important that you use its results to grow. If you discover that you are too introverted or close to new experiences, instead of assuming it as an immovable reality, you can set yourself new challenges that help you develop those areas of your personality.
After all, as a study carried out at the University of Edinburgh revealed, we are not the same person at 14 as we are at 77. In fact, another research conducted at the University of Warwick revealed that in just two years, significant changes in our lives can lead to personological transformations.
Finally, it is worth clarifying that not any personality test is valid. There are many personality tests online that are not backed by science. Therefore, if you want to know your psychological profile, make sure you choose a test that is at least validated by a serious psychological platform.
Harris, M. A. et. Al. (2016) Personality Stability From Age 14 to Age 77 Years. Psychology of Aging; 31(8): 862–874.
Boyce, C. J. et. Al (2013) Is Personality Fixed? Personality Changes as Much as “Variable” Economic Factors and More Strongly Predicts Changes to Life Satisfaction. Social Indicators Research; 111(1): 287-305.