The Oracle

Personality tests are valid in judging one’s character

Tejpal Virdi, News Editor

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Reflecting on personal characteristics can help us understand how one interacts with the world, and personality strongly indicates performance in a variety of domains. To be clear, this is not referring to the comical “personality test” you might find on social media, but instead a deeply researched model known as the Big Five test that can reliably predict personality traits.

Very few tests within the social sciences are as widely accepted and have as fundamentally thorough of an assessment of personality as the Big Five Personality test. In fact, this five-dimensional model has shown that nearly all factors of personality will fall into just five distinct groups. The test has achieved consistent, replicable and reliable results, and the model has been relevant since 1990 without being disproved.

Personality tests have already been successfully implemented in a variety of areas. In jobs, the five traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and emotional stability) can reveal a lot about a candidate’s competency in a position. For example, an introvert will not be happy in tasks that require a lot of social work, while someone who is not very open-minded will not thrive in jobs that require creativity. Although these are just averages—which are subject to deviations—general trends in personality traits can help one pick the most fitting career.

Certain scores on personality tests have also shown links to mental illnesses. A study led by Richard Zinbarg, a professor in psychology from Northwestern University, showed that people low in emotional stability may suffer from anxiety or depression, and people extraordinarily high in extraversion have been associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Zinbarg’s results showed links between certain genes and traits, knowledge of which can be extremely beneficial since genetic testing is more invasive and less developed than personality testing.

Indeed, we are more complex than a personality test score. Some test-takers may be biased in their responses by trying to find the “correct” answers rather than being objective, resulting in inaccurate results. But the point is to use these tests as a supplement to one’s current life. After all, they can reveal very important information about how someone will live their life, and have the capacity to make significant positive change if utilized correctly.

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Personality tests are valid in judging one’s character