How Valid are Personality Tests

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The quest for knowledge has been a driving force of humankind for as long as intelligent life has existed.  This desire to learn stemmed from basic necessity and evolved into an urge to understand the psyche.  Tests like the Locus of Control quiz, Real Age Test, and the Jung Typology test or Keirsey Temperament Sorter test all provide a window into the mind. 

The Locus of Control test was originally developed by Julian Rotter in the 1960’s (Neill, 2005).  Rotter determined that people learned to assign different reasons for what affects their behavior.  This belief is known as attribution.  “Attribution refers to how people explain events that happen to themselves and others” (Neill, 2005).  An external locus of control means that an individual believes that her/his behavior is guided by fate, luck, or other external circumstances.  Internal locus of control means that an individual believes that her/his behavior is guided by her/his personal decisions and efforts. 

The temperament sorter tests are based on Jungian temperament archetypes.  Carl Jung was a colleague of Sigmund Freud who developed his own theory of the psyche in which he divided the psyche into three parts, the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.  Jung categorized people by their “primary modes of psychological functioning” (Daniels, 1992).  Jung classified the functions of consciousness as sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling.  Jung’s theory was later simplified by Kiersey into extrovert or introvert, sensate or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. 

The Real Age test is the biological age of your body, based on lifestyle, genetics, and medical history.  This test was developed by Drs. Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.  According to their website their company, RealAge, Inc., provides information and solutions to help people live healthier, longer lives.

I took all three tests and my results were mostly what I expected them to be.  The Real Age test showed that I am 2.4 years older than I really am.  This is mostly because I did not know my cholesterol level and that I recently experienced several stressful life events.  I also do not get enough sleep which is unavoidable at the moment because my baby still does not sleep through the night.  I learned from this test that my lifestyle greatly affects my health and I must learn to care for myself or I may not be around long enough to care for my children.  I often put my health and wellbeing on the backburner because I want to take care of everyone else and forget that I need to be taken care of also.  This usually ends up hurting everyone around me because when I do not take care of myself I become overwhelmed and lash out at those who love me the most.

The fact that I scored a 65 on the locus of control test does not surprise me because I have known that I had an internal locus of control since my intro psychology class.  After reading the article about locus of control I now understand why I feel so crazy when I first take on something new.  I never realized that there was a correlation between having an internal locus of control and a person’s ability to perform certain tasks.  When I begin something I am not familiar with I am often frustrated because I feel responsible for getting it right the first time.  Patience is not a virtue I have even come close to achieving.  I very much like being in control and find it hard to delegate work to others because I feel like it won’t be done right if it isn’t done by me.  This aspect of my personality was also revealed in the temperament test. 

The temperament test revealed that I am Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging (ISFJ).  In the description of ISFJs I was at first happy to read that people with such temperaments are often unappreciated at work, home, and play.  I have always blamed my family for not appreciating anything I do for them and I now realize that I often do not even give them the chance to show their appreciation.  The description of my temperament stated that being unappreciated is often the fault of the ISFJ.  I am terrible at letting others take over tasks that I feel I am supposed to do and I rarely ask for any recognition because I feel that it is wrong to do so.  Almost all of the description of ISFJ was right on target for me except for the judging part.  I was happy to read in the description of temperament posted on blackboard that we must remember that few people are completely one way or another because I seem to be almost right down the middle when it comes to judging and perceiving.  I am extremely punctual; I hate being late for anything.  On the other hand I am terrible at keeping things in order.  I am exceedingly unorganized unless it comes to being on time. 

I enjoyed taking these tests and I learned a great deal about myself throughout this whole process.  I know many people who resist even the slightest change and will go to great lengths to avoid analyzing their behavior.  These are the type of people who say “that’s just how I am” and they are usually miserable because they keep their negative behavior and emotions around like they can not live without them.  I am not saying that I am always open to change but I like to believe that I have the intestinal fortitude needed to face my actions and do my best to change any behaviors that are negative.  Self-evaluation is good for the soul and sometimes even for the survival of one’s relationships with others.  A person who is unwilling to change negative behavior is self-destructive and an affliction to their loved ones.  No one exists in a vacuum and it is necessary to know who you are and why you are the way you are in order to form healthy relationships with others.  Otherwise it is possible for people to simply exist without ever knowing the joy of being part of a loving family. 

More about this author: Annette Gary

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