The validity and value of personality tests

Take your Enneagram tests with a grain of salt.

Annie Johnson, Staff Writer

What’s your Enneagram type? (Jordan Cuskey)

As an internet user, odds are that you have taken a personality test. Whether it was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, giving you four letters which determine your skill set, or the Enneagram test, displaying a digit that explains your personality, most people seem drawn to these tests in hopes of learning more about themselves. Despite the abstract and digital nature of most of these assessments, people tend to put extreme trust in their results.

However, these analyses have some serious drawbacks. While they offer valuable insight into how people interact with their environments, the lack of variation forces people into boxes that may not be entirely accurate. Considering the number of people taking these assessments, the possible types can not represent all the unique personalities of the test-takers.

This categorization can lead to premature assumptions about yourself and those you meet. I have met people who have the same personality types as I do, but because of the lack of diversity in the test result, our personalities and worldviews are not as uniform as the assessments say.

People’s fascination with their own personality types can also impact the decisions they make in their everyday life. The description of the assessment result causes people to adjust their own thoughts and behavior in order to better fit their assigned personality type. This tendency in essence causes people to actively search for similarities between what the test tells them and their own lives.

The lack of variation forces people into boxes that may not be entirely accurate.”

I often find myself explaining away many aspects of my life and mood with my Myers-Briggs and Enneagram types. Because of this, I have to remind myself there is more to my personality than the paragraph-long descriptions. That being said, studying my result more carefully has helped me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses in relation to my school and work environments.

The descriptions of your personality types should be used as a tool to aid you in your work and everyday interactions, but should not be viewed as a destined identity. Carefully studying your test results can help you better yourself and your work if you are able to recognize that you have the ability to strengthen aspects of your personality type that will best benefit you.

With this in mind, personality evaluations can be very valuable in a professional setting, but it needs to be understood that these personality types do not represent all aspects of one’s behavior and worldview.

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