Writing Nowadays–Personality Tests

I’m not a big fan of personality tests.  To me they’re on the same level as horoscopes–usually wrong, with mixed-up personality types.  When my wife and I were going through the adoption process, our agency insisted that we take a psychological personality test.  The psychologist read my results and said I   was psychologically healthy overall, with the “normal interests of a heterosexual male,” but subservient to my wife, whom I had a deep-seated need to please.  I smiled and nodded, since he was giving me the green light to adopt, and then my wife and I cracked up in the car afterward.

My Zodiac personality is also totally wrong.  I was born a Capricorn but everyone thinks I’m an Aquarius.  I read horoscopes from several different cultures and find aspects of my personality in all the different types, really.  They’re all vague enough to fit nearly anyone.

However, on-line personality tests are a fun modern twist on fiddling with fictional characters.

Read through the Zodiac personality types.  Which one fits your character best?  Is he a stubborn Taurus?  A down-to-earth Capricorn?  An energetic Gemini?  Figure it out, and then, just to be consistent with the real world, slip in some traits that don’t fit the type.

Another bit of fun is the Keirsey Personality Test .  It’s one of those things that divides all of humanity into four types (with four sub-categories in each), and is more of a party game than anything else, but it’s an interesting tool writers.  You can answer the questions as if you were one of your characters, which forces you to climb more deeply inside the person’s head.  Then you can see how closely the personality type matches.

The site wants you to fork out $20 for an in-depth analysis, but the free surface analysis is plenty interesting.  And it can give you ideas for further character development.

For the record, I took the test for Alice Webb and Gavin Michael, the protagonists of my Work in Progress THE DOOMSDAY BOOK.  Alice turned up as a Guardian and Gavin is an Idealist.

Are your characters where you thought they’d be? Do you know your characters well enough to take the test?

–Steven Harper Piziks

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Writing Nowadays–Personality Tests — 6 Comments

  1. I used to do those tests for characters. It was fun!

    I was astonished that they put you through that footle before you could adopt. They didn’t do that to us, but maybe it’s a new thing.

  2. The short version is it was because we were Wiccan. I am not kidding you. We were more than halfway through the home study at that point and didn’t want to start over elsewhere, but the moment we had the documents, we dropped them (very harshly) and found a different agency to complete everything.

  3. Personality types can be useful.

    If you want to make a bit character more lively and distinct, you can assign some traits from a type. This will help prevent your characters acting all alike by giving them different personalities.

    Also, some writers use them to ensure their characterization is rounded. If the characters can be recognized as a type, more work is needed.

  4. Well, I have seen from accurate to ridiculously inaccurate personality tests. I have seen many personality tests that have many questions, answers to which don’t match any available options and for many questions, one would have different answers for various situations.

    There are some personality tests that proved to be accurate on me as well as on my friends. I am unable to recall all the names however, the one I still remember is Sales Personality Assessment test from Euphony HR (http://www.euphonyhr.com/solutions/sales_personality_assessment.php)

    I think, tests like MBTI are over valued, I found MBTI very inaccurate.