Personality Test: An Overview of Popular Assessment Tools

Personality Tests

Personality tests are instruments used to assess aspects of someone’s character and psychology. According to the United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website they have been in existence since the 1917, and were first developed to aid in employee selection.

Some degree of bias is often inherent as personality tests often involve self-reporting; however, many people find them to be a useful guide for everything from career and relationship counseling to self-discovery.

Those in the process of making important choices around higher education and vocation may also benefit from the knowledge imparted by these assessments.  This article provides an overview of several of the more common personality tests.

If you decide to explore these tests further, it’s important to remember personality tests aren’t designed to tell you which career path to take, or what your flaws are. Instead, they help you understand your natural strengths and how you relate to the world around you, which you can then apply to your educational and vocational choices.

Popular Personality Tests:

THE MEYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR (MBTI):

According to the Meyers-Briggs Foundation Website the MBTI applies C.J. Jung’s theory of personality types to a questionnaire used to determine how the test-taker perceives the world.

Jung believed humans experience the world through four basic functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. The inventory assesses which of these functions are dominant for the test-taker.

The MBTI assesses the test-taker’s proclivities in three areas:

Attitudes: Test-takers are determined to be extroverts (drawing energy from action) or introverts (drawing energy from reflection and time alone).

Functions: The perceiving functions are sensing (prefer tangible, concrete information) and intuition (prefer abstract information). The judging functions are thinking (prefer to make decisions based on logic) and feeling (prefer to make decisions based on emotion).  For each pair, test-takers have one that is more dominant; among the four functions there is also one function assessed to be the most dominant of all.

Lifestyle: The MBTI also determines whether the test-taker tends overall to be more judging (logical) or perceiving (empathic).

THE ENNEAGRAM (RISO-HUDSON ENNEAGRAM TYPE INDICATOR):

The Enneagram Institutes Web page explains this personality test helps the test-taker identify their primary personality type from nine basic personality types.

The Enneagram itself is a circular design around which the numbers are arranged. Each personality type is connected to certain other types through various groupings; these groupings are also diagrammed on the Enneagram. The “centers” are groupings sharing common emotional themes.

For example, the personality types in the “instinctive” center tend to revert to rage; those in the “thinking” center default to anxiety; and those in the “feeling” center often feel shame. The personality types located on either side of one’s dominant personality type on the Enneagram can help distinguish complementary personality traits.

THE STRENGTHSFINDER:

According to StrenghtsQuest, the StrengthsFinder personality test was developed by Dr. Donald Clifton, considered the “father” of positive psychology. It measures the presence of 34 talent themes, defined as “naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied”.

The assessment identifies the test-taker’s top five themes to help them better understand how they tend to instinctively accomplish tasks and relate to the world around them.  

Ideally, test-takers who have identified their talents will also be able to use this knowledge to identify a career path best suited to their particular talents.

THE WORLD OF WORK INVENTORY (WOWI):

The WOWI helps the test taker identify their interests and talents as they relate to available occupations.  It identifies occupations that may interest the test taker by considering self-reported educational and career preferences, preferred job duties, abilities in various disciplines, and preferred environmental factors in the workplace.

A personality test can help you make decisions about your graduate school investment by providing objective analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, and personal preferences to help you identify programs that may bring you career satisfaction.

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