Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beware of unverified personality tests on the Internet

Personality tests are fun. Who can resist discovering your perfect career match, or what your colour preference says about your temperament, or why your current Mr Right is really right for you?

Open (almost) any magazine or run an Internet search, and there you have them:
· Are you a workaholic?
· How do you handle stress?
· Are you a good boss?
· The bear and your attitude to everyday problems.
· What the contents of your fridge says about you...

The tests range from learning styles and handwriting to analysing the shape of your lipstick. They are fun. But are they accurate and should you follow their advice when it comes to choosing the right job or the right life partner?

Over the last week, I’ve taken thirteen free online personality tests, each time giving honest answers. This is what I discovered:
· I am a gregarious person who loves people.
· I’m a loner.
· I’m emotional.
· I think analytically.
· I am practical.
· I’m a dreamer.
· I am a happy settled person who knows what she wants.
· I should be a novelist, a graphic designer, a historian and a university professor.
· My Mr Right is a faceless somebody on Facebook. If I’m to believe his online profile, he lives on another continent, and is married with children.

Most of it was as amusing as it was entertaining. But the pedantic side of me flared up when I specifically said in one online quiz that I prefer working in a group and that I like to be in the centre of the action, and yet the results said: "You like to avoid attention at all costs. You tend to keep to yourself, and not interact much with the people around you."

That quiz was supposed to help me choose the career most suited to my personality, and yet it contained a glaring error. I sincerely hope that nobody makes a wrong choice based on advice received from that specific test.

(For a list of questions to consider before you choose a learning style analysis or a career guidance test, please click here.)

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