A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that for reasons unknown, some of my posts get more readers than others. The most-read post over the last two months linked to a test of entrepreneurial aptitude. My guess is readers took the test, had fun with it, and told friends.
To test that theory and have more fun, I found another personality test to take. This one is reputedly the most scientific of all: the Big Five.
The name refers to the five spectra psychological researchers use to measure personality: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.
One assumption of the Big Five test is that we’re not exclusively one way or the other. For instance, the Myers Briggs test places you on an extroversion-introversion scale and assigns a letter (E or I) according to whichever tendency is stronger. I’m an I because I’m strongly introverted, but would be even if I were just 51% introverted and 49% extroverted. Myers Briggs does the same with its three other metrics, then lumps you into one of 16 personality types. You wind up identifying more with your four-letter personality type (I’m an INTJ) than with the strengths of your four measured characteristics.
By contrast, the Big Five gives you a numeric score in each category, which tells you where on the bell curve you fall compared to millions of other test subjects. You’re not a four-letter type, you’re the measure of your tendencies across five fundamental traits.
Want to take the test? There’s a free, online version maintained by Christopher J. Soto, Associate Professor of Psychology at Colby College, here. Click on the “All About You” link near the top. (Note that Professor Soto got his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, so of course he’s brilliant.) The test takes about 15 minutes.
I’d love to hear your results! Here are mine — and I should note that I tried really hard to answer honestly, i.e. how I truly feel as opposed to how I prefer to perceive myself.
I still scored strongly for introversion, getting just a 25 on the extroversion scale. But unlike Myers Briggs, it wasn’t my most extreme score. That one, I’m happy to say, was Openness to Experience, where I scored an 88. The description of high scorers fits me well: “High scorers are generally open to new activities and new ideas. They tend to be creative, intellectually curious, and sensitive to art and beauty. High scorers tend to prefer, and do better in, scientific and artistic occupations. They are more likely to hold liberal political attitudes, prefer classical, jazz, blues, and rock music, and engage in drug use.” Okay, that last part is wrong, but now that recreational marijuana is legal in California . . .
I also scored highly in Conscientiousness, even though high-conscientiousness types are “more likely to be religious and hold conservative political attitudes.” Evidently I’m an anomaly: an irreligious liberal who cleans up after himself.
I come closer to the norm in the last two categories. I scored a 64 for Agreeableness, although again, high scorers tend to be religious — what am I missing about myself? They also tend to prefer pop, country, and religious music. (Remind me not to go to an Agreeableness convention.) And then I scored a 61 in Neuroticism, where I expected to score higher because “high scorers tend to be emotionally sensitive, and have up-and-down mood swings. They experience more frequent negative emotions, and react more strongly to negative events.”
So that’s me: eager to learn, well-organized, introverted, relatively low-drama, and not as moody as I think.
Hmm. I might wait a few weeks and take the test again, just to see how consistent that portrait is.