We’ve all been down the Buzzfeed rabbit hole, mindlessly scrolling through quiz after quiz to find out what our cheese selection reveals about what animal we are in bed (I’m a jellyfish), or what colour we should dye our hair based on our designer fashion choices (smoky blue). I’m a Leo, born in the year of the rat, which means that I’m optimistic, stubborn, and love to gossip. This happens to be true, but I refuse to believe there’s any genuine accuracy in personality tests.
If you read my last piece in Features, I have realised I can sort of do science. To prove it, I did a kind of scientific experiment where I took the Myers Briggs test, and then compared it with the polar opposite result, to see which one had personality traits that I actually possessed. Highly scientific, I know.
A brief history of the Myers Briggs test: the ladies who created it accidentally applied Jungian psychology to determine what personality types people had. Upon realising that Jung a) already existed, and b) was more scientific than their original tests, they tweaked the formula and created the final Myers Briggs test, which ranks you on spectrums of extraverted vs introverted, sensing vs intuitive, thinking vs feeling and judging vs perceiving. With sixteen different types, it at least feels a little more rational than zodiac signs. As it turns out, I’m an ENFP (extroverted, intuition, feeling, perceiving), which means I’m curious, energetic, and friendly. I also have poor practical skills, find it difficult to focus, and I’m independent to a fault. Curious and friendly I’ll accept as true – I like knowing stuff, and I’m what my gran calls a ‘chatty Cathy’. Energetic, I am not. Maybe that’s the Leo in me. As for my flaws, I think it’s fair to blame the practical skills and the lack of focus on my probable dyspraxia and my ADHD, but maybe I’m just being cynical. Famous ENFPs include Keira Knightley, Robert Downey Junior, and Robin Williams, and I can’t really believe that I have anything in common with any of them.
The polar opposite of my type is ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking, judging), whose traits include being honest, direct, dutiful and calm, and whose flaws include being stubborn, insensitive, and judgmental. I’m inclined to agree that I don’t really fit the strengths of ISTJ, but I do have a pretty strong sense of duty. I’m also stubborn and judgmental, and I often blame myself unreasonably (another fault of ISTJs). Famous ISTJs include Jeff Bezos and Sigmund Freud; I’ve chosen to agree that I’m definitely not an ISTJ.
I asked fellow Forge Press editor Tom what his type was, given he swears to the accuracy of his. He’s an ENTP, described as ‘The Debater’. In his words, the type describes an ‘argumentative individual’:
“Debaters are also likely to break rules they disagree with, and honestly, if there’s a mandatory lecture that I don’t agree I have to go to, then I won’t. Famous people that share my personality type are Celine Dion, Tyrion Lannister, Dr. Emmett Brown, Mark Twain, and Thomas Edison, and I reckon I have a lot in common with them. A few of a Debater’s strengths are that they’re original, a quick thinker, and charismatic and without coming across as too narcissistic; I see these traits to some degree in myself. A debater’s flaws are that they’re incredibly argumentative (my friends could attest to this being true for myself), they find it tricky to focus – hence why I leave deadlines so last minute – and are intolerant. I don’t want to sound too cruel or as if I’m really so eager to label myself as intolerant, but there’s many a person in this universe I don’t have ANY time for.
With astrology, everything is sourced from the planet and stars, things that existed completely separate from us before our existence (I guess? I’m not an educated and qualified physicist); so to base personalities off of entities that are mostly separate from our everyday lives doesn’t convince many. There’s no ludicrous explanation as to why we behave these ways, the personality types focus on the what we are and don’t get bogged down with the why or how. Therefore, regardless of if these types are genuine, there’s a lack of red flags that suggest we shouldn’t trust what these personality types say about us.”
A better test is arguably the Big 5, which consists of five key traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (sometimes referred to as emotional stability). The scale for each trait ranges from 0-100, meaning it’s likely to be more accurate than binary tests like Myers Briggs. There are still issues with it; no one will get a totally accurate breakdown of their personality after answering fifty questions. Longer quizzes exist, but it seems like you have to pay for them.
At the end of the day, my real issue with personality tests is the pointlessness of them all. By the time you’re at university, you should have some idea of who you are. Your time here will be spent figuring out your likes, dislikes, dreams, and hopes. Personality tests are fun, and a great way to procrastinate, but they probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. That being said, I’m grateful for Buzzfeed for always being there to let me know what Lush bath bomb I am.