Why do we take personality tests?

It is human nature to want to figure out who we are, why we do and feel certain things, and why we are the way we are. A major catalyst in determining these factors is personality tests. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, StrengthsFinder, and so many more determine parts of our personality. They serve as an explanation for our characteristics and help us better grasp who we are.

Our personalities are what fuel the nature of human interaction. “Personality tests such as StrengthsFinder and MBTI cover a comprehensive set of abilities and they can help students reaffirm and gain confidence in their strengths,” said high school counselor Sue Nesbitt. “For those students who aren’t sure of their talents or personality strengths, the tests can be useful for improving self-understanding.”

There is something to be said for how accurate the tests really are. Ms. Nesbitt said, “The tests are not meant to be definitive. There is no personality test that can completely define you. They are one more tool in the toolkit of life. Solid research goes into the process of designing a personality assessment and these tests look for patterns.”

mbtiposterPeople  sometimes find themselves questioning the nature of the people around them and why they do or say certain things. Understanding MBTI helps things fall into place. Personalities are broken down into 4 categories: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). The combination of these characteristics present an accurate depiction of who we are.

MBTI focuses more on our personalities when it comes to interacting with others and being ourselves. Another personality analysis, StrengthsFinder, determines what we do well and how that is used in our everyday lives. It helps to better understand our talents.

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The StrengthsFinder assessment requires purchasing the book by Tom Rath in order to receive the code that enables you to take the test online.

Betsy Hall, an eighth grade Reading and Language Arts teacher, is a StrengthsFinder Communicator. StrengthsFinder Communicators are trained to help people better understand their strengths and how they can make the best use of them. Ms. Hall said, “Every strength has a positive side and there may be a dark side as well. One of my strengths is Achiever, and the weakness is that sometimes I get so wound up in getting things done that I put my to-do list ahead of my relationships with people.”

Sophomore Hana Matsudaira is working hard to try and implement a system in SAS for all high schoolers to take StrengthsFinder in order to better understand their work habits and abilities. “I think that it is beneficial for high school students to take these tests, especially StrengthsFinder, because we are at a time when we are trying to figure out who we are and these tests can help guide us,” Hana said. “We go to a school where we focus on improving our weaknesses or areas of improvements, so learning what my strengths were felt nice for a change.” 

And things are going to change. Starting next year, ninth graders will take a strengths assessment in Family Connection. Tenth graders will take MBTI, and upperclassmen will take StrengthsFinder.

There is a downside to these tests, however, something we have to be aware of. “I think personality tests are a snapshot in time. They capture who you are in the moment, and help you better understand yourself. It makes it easier for you to explain yourself to others. Is it a permanent label? No. I don’t think you should ever feel like you’re trapped by this, or that you can never be anything else,” Ms. Hall said. “It’s not worth getting so attached to it that it becomes who you are, because you can be something else. You evolve over time.”

SAS is beginning to incorporate a differentiation between extroverts and introverts, which is critical for teachers to understand their students, and for students to understand themselves personally and socially. “With faculty and students taking the StrengthsFinder test, we not only learn how we tick but we also begin to understand the strengths and talents of people around us,” said Ms. Nesbitt.

Personality tests make us better learners and thinkers. They make us better at interacting with people, they help us to understand who we are. “We all like to learn about ourselves and dig a little deeper. It’s interesting, it’s like reading your horoscope sometimes,” Ms. Hall said. “Any way that we can better understand who we are is worth our time and consideration.”

Buy the “StrengthsFinder” book by Tom Rath to take the test online here.

Pay to take the authentic Myers-Briggs test online here, or take similarly accurate free versions of the test online – Human Metrics or 16 Personalities.

Author: Diya Navlakha

Diya Navlakha is a junior in her tenth year at SAS. This is her second year as a part of The Eye. While originally from India, Diya spent her childhood in New York City and Singapore. A few of her hobbies include watching "Friends", baking, and spending time with friends and family. She can be contacted at navlakha33815@sas.edu.sg.

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