Why I Hate Personality Tests

personality

…It’s not because I don’t like putting people in boxes. I love putting people in boxes. I do it all the time.

No.

I hate personality tests because they put people in two-dimensional boxes instead of three-dimensional boxes.

You are either introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in the middle.

You are either rational, emotional, or somewhere in the middle.

You are either a city person, a country person, or somewhere in the middle.

Can’t someone be both? Can’t someone be neither?

Personality tests always seem to go at it from an either/or standpoint, and I always end up with very muddled results.

My mom always told me I was an extrovert because I process by talking. When I lived with my aunt, she declared that I was an introvert because of how much I loved/needed alone time. When I told people this dichotomy, they always said something like, “it’s a continuum. You can be somewhere in the middle.” But I didn’t feel in the middle. I felt both.

The fight between  my rational side and my emotional side is actually quite funny to me, because of how often I go to my professors’ office hours, burst into tears, and then attempt to have a rational discussion about how to fix whatever I’m struggling with. I always say, “sorry, I just cry easily, it’s not actually a big deal,” which sounds rational in my head but if I’m sobbing it doesn’t sound rational at all. My professors never seem to quite believe me. They look very sympathetic and hand me kleenexes.

All professors have boxes of kleenexes in their offices, I’ve found.

I blame the duality of my personality on my parents. My mom’s side of the family is emotional and introverted, and my dad’s side of the family is rational and extroverted. Somehow I got saddled with a healthy (maybe unhealthy) dose of both.

Personality tests, at their core, ALL seem to be about some extroverted/introverted or rational/emotional continuum. Have you noticed this? Does it drive anyone else crazy?

I know that just by virtue of discussing my personality I sound like I have special snowflake syndrome, but seriously, I can’t be the only one who feels like they are BOTH or NEITHER instead of either/or.

Anyone?

(Yes, I now give you permission to give a lengthy description of your personality in the comments below.)

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9 responses to “Why I Hate Personality Tests

  1. I totally get you in some ways, feeling like an extrovert and an introvert at the same time is definitely me as well…..but I LOVE personality types….namely Myers Briggs types….YAY!!! Enfj! Oh yeah!

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  2. Aha! Someone else noticed this too! My husband is quite quite logical and rational. I am quite expressive and somewhat emotional but given a public place with deep significance, I am all business, emotions almost dormant. Mr. Husband, on the other hand is much more emotional. It’s an interesting phenomenon. I’m fascinated by this!

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  3. i agree with Hannah and have to put in a HUGE plug for the Meyers-Briggs personality tests. Go do one right now. You’ve never made more sense to yourself!! And then post about your results. I am an ENFP, in case you were wondering.😊 it does include the introverted/extroverted thing, but you can be both somewhat. I am definitely in the extrovert category, but I have always felt like I’m both. I think if you like to write, in any form, you are going to have some introvert in you. I could talk so much more about this, but I’m typing on my phone, so I’ll wrap it up.

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  4. This post reminds me of an article I read many years ago in the “Moody Monthly” magazine written by a college professor.

    The in thing back then was that whatever zodiac sign you were born under will determine personality traits. So he did an experiement – he wrote a characteristic for each of them depending on when they were born, or so they thought. He wrote this on a piece of paper, folded it and placed it on their desk. Then he told them to open it, reading it and tell him whether this describes them. The students said, yes, it describes them. What the professor did was write the same thing on each paper….

    Good article, Emily..

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  5. I used to see a counselor who told me nearly the same thing you’re describing; I was confused as to how my personality seemed to strongly swing from one set of characteristics to another, and couldn’t decide which was really “me.” According to her, you can be any combination, anywhere on the continuum, at any time. When it’s pointed out, it seems clear and obvious. >.<

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  6. I agree with those promoting the Myers-Briggs personality test. And I’m an INTJ. =) Interesting article…

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  7. I don’t have any kleenexes in my office. What does that say about me, do you think?

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  8. You make me laugh! I love the section about professors and Kleenexes.

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  9. This made me laugh. I know exactly what you mean. I’m not somewhere in between, rather I’m both. Some of my friends (particularly my girlfriends) get annoyed at my rationality while we’re having discussions. However, I tend to be extremely emotional. Sometimes I can give a very rational explanation to a friend about exactly why X should not be upsetting me…while sitting there crying my eyes out about it. Sometimes I seem like a very extroverted person. I love people and can barely make myself be quiet, but if I don’t get any alone time I turn into a bear…choir tours are tough.

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