“Personality Tests” May Be Viral, But are They Scientifically Valid?

Heaven Golladay, Science Editor

From 90s catalog quizzes to Buzzfeed tests, people have been obsessed with online personality evaluations forever. The newest popular ones being the Difficult Person Test, and the resurgence of the Myers-Briggs test.

Though, vital questions that test-takers should consider are, what is this test saying? As well as, is it accurate? 

The Difficult Person Test

The Difficult Person Test was created by IDRlabs, claiming to be based on the October 2020 findings of Dr. Chelsea Sleep. The test essentially assesses how difficult a person is by measuring their levels of risk-taking, callousness, grandiosity, aggression, suspicion, manipulativeness, and dominance.

The test is pretty straight to the point. It has thirty-five statements and a range of responses for how much you agree or disagree with the statement, and your results state how difficult you are on a 1-100 percent scale.

Dr. Sleep’s findings were based on a subject size of 532 college-age people, who had to experience various assessments to receive a final judgement on how high their general level of antagonism is, and then having that level be further broken down into seven aspects. Those being, the ones listed above.

Even with this professional experiment, there were of course many variables that had to be considered before giving a judgement initially. One being, everyone has very subjective ideas of certain traits, and having one label being too similar to another can disrupt findings. 

The scientists involved in Dr. Sleep’s University of Georgia experiment eventually worked these issues out, and had to crunch their data multiple times to have a clear overview of results. This should bring attention to the fact that, obviously, a 35 statement assessment will not be nearly as accurate as this psychological experiment that it was based on. 

The official website itself however, alerts people that it is a harmless online questionnaire that has no medical or general professional merit at all, stating, “The Difficult Person Test is based on a famous and well-regarded research into the traits of difficult people. However, free online tests and quizzes such as this one are solely first takes and cannot provide accurate assessments of your personality traits” (IDRlabs 4).  

So, don’t take your score so seriously, but the history behind the test is quite interesting!

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI for short) is a personality test that has been around for more than half a century, which divides people into sixteen personality types that each have a letter representing a trait. The traits being introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. 

Due to the expectations of society at the time, Katharine Briggs was a very educated and ambitious woman who was subject to being a housewife, and nothing else. However, while at home she began observing the children of her neighborhood over the years and created what is now known as the MBTI. 

In modern times, it is not uncommon for employers, dating apps, or random peers to ask for your MBTI type, and base you around that. Again similarly to the Difficult Person Test, it is not as accurate as the work it was based on (which was not necessarily a professional research campaign), because Briggs herself was a firm believer in the test only truly being applicable after many years of observation.

Student Jennifer Ceria stated, “If you search for a personality test online, you’ll come across a variety of websites. The questions a website asks and the answer you get could be completely different from another website. Therefore, I believe they aren’t able to determine your true personality”.

While the subject of self-assessments as a whole is questionable, generally speaking you shouldn’t consider the MBTI to be a definitive analysis of any individual. There will always seem to be conversation on the scientific merit of the test (which generally concludes to, no, it isn’t rigorous enough to be called scientifically accurate). 

Although these short and simple tests aren’t exactly reputable, and shouldn’t be used to jump to conclusions about any one person, it is completely natural to want to have a label on the traits you have and show. If take that way, the tests are harmless fun!