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MBTI and Other Personality Tests: Are They Really Accurate?

Ever wondered how accurate are the personality tests we take? We dive deeper into the matter.

Whether it’s a site you find online or a short video you see on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve probably come across plenty of personality type tests online. While it may be fun to do, especially when the answers resonate with your personality or behaviour, you’re more than likely to be categorised into a different personality group should you repeat the test a few months later. 

So, that leaves us to question, how accurate and reliable are these personality tests? Can our personality change frequently and what would happen if we rely on these personality tests to determine who we are? We dive deeper into what we love doing — understanding ourselves better through personality tests.

What Are Personality Tests?

As human beings, it’s completely normal to be curious about who we are, why we react a certain way, and to identify ourselves with something. Personality tests often give us the answers to what we’re curious about — our personality.

A person’s personality is something that we informally and often unknowingly describe every day. When we talk about or present ourselves to others, we frequently reveal bits and pieces of our personality, whether it’s through our conversations, writings, or even actions. 

Personality testing refers to the way a person’s personality is measured by certain characteristic patterns and traits, which makes it a convenient assessment especially when needing to understand a person for a specific purpose in a limited amount of time. You’re typically presented a list of multiple-choice questions where you’d have to select the most appropriate answer that you resonate with. The type of questions depends on the type of test you’re taking and depending on what you’re being tested on.

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What Are Personality Tests Used For?

For many of us, personality tests are used as a fun way to pass time with anticipation if the results would resonate with you. But beyond that, these tests can actually be helpful in giving you a better understanding of yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses which can help you uncover your full potential.

Through a more systematic and scientific level, it’s able to assist psychologists in ensuring that the diagnosis given is tailored specifically for the patient. Companies are also able to assess if a potential candidate is a right fit for a company based on the person’s behavioural traits. With something that could potentially impact your life and your career, are personality tests truly accurate and valid?

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The Most Popular Personality Test Isn’t the Most Accurate

Quick! Go ahead and search 'personality test' and you’d probably be met with hundreds of different kinds of informal tests designed to tell you something about your personality — no matter how impactful or small it may be. 

The most common personality test that’d probably land as your first result would likely be 16personalities.com, which follows a simplified framework of the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). With its eye-catching graphics and attractive interface, I’m willing to bet that you’ve probably already taken it before and have gone around trying to find others in the same personality group as you.

But here’s the thing, it may not be the best representation of your personality.

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What Does MBTI Mean?

The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, is often used to help individuals understand their communication preferences and how they interact with others, making it ideal especially when figuring out their optimum work style and reaction in different situations. 

With each test ranging about 93 forced-choice questions, you’d have to rank all the different statement accordingly which ultimately results in measuring (1) your extroverted or introverted level, (2) whether you’ve a sensing preference or an intuitive preference when it comes to processing information, (3) your preference in making decisions by thinking or feeling, and (4) if you’ve a judging or perceiving preference when doing things.

Two characters trying to piece together a silhouette of a person's head.

While many of us are drawn to the simple explanation and nature, the debate about this personality test type is that it’s too rigid in its category and isn’t the most accurate in results. 

Studies have shown that it may be unreliable because you’re more than likely to have a different result should you retake the test a few months later. Additionally, Programme Director and Lecturer of Taylor’s Bachelor of Psychology Ms. Rajalakshmi Ganesan, shares, "A good and accurate personality test wouldn't show a different result when you retake the test as it's rare for a person's personality to change."

Are There Really Any Accurate Personality Tests Out There?

So, what makes a test more valid and accurate compared to the other? Ms. Rajalakshmi shares, “Personality tests often undergo vigorous rounds of reliability and validity testing by psychologists to ensure that the statements and questions posed provide accurate results.”

While you may be jaded by the lack of accuracy in the personality tests you know and often do, fret not, there are personality tests out there that are valid that you can take. One such example, that’s available for free online, is the Self-Directed Search test, suitable if you’re looking to explore career options that would match your aspirations, activities, and talents.

If you’re looking for accuracy and validity in the test results, especially for professional purposes or you simply would like to know yourself at a deeper level, seeking professional services is the best way to do it. 

At Taylor’s University, you can take several personality test assessments in the Centre for Human Excellence and Development (CHED) lab through the HEART psychological services. “These tests are conducted by both our clinical psychologist and clinical psychology master students which are open to both Taylorians and the public,” adds Ms. Rajalakshmi.

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Which Personality Test Should You Take?

At the end of the day, the results are evident. There are many personality tests out there for you to choose from and choosing the best one that’s suitable for your needs depends on the level of accuracy you’re looking for. The vast majority of quizzes that you'll encounter online are just for fun. They can be entertaining and they might even give you a little insight into your personality, but they’re in no way formal, scientific assessments of personality.

With that said, although these personality tests that you can find online aren’t absolutely accurate, they’re definitely the first step in giving you a slight insight into how you think. But, if you’re looking for accuracy, you’re better off finding better results off the net!

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