Finding out your personality type is an essential step in self-exploration. Apollo’s oracle at Delphi encouraged visitors to ‘Know Thyself.’ In the blockbuster movie ‘The Matrix,’ the Oracle confronts Neo with the very same phrase ‘Temet Nosce,’ Latin for ‘know thyself.’
Socrates went as far as saying that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living.’ Self-knowledge is part of a good life.
Self-knowledge is functional in the form of a career personality test. Today, most people take personality profiling tests to figure out their career path.
The search for oneself can become obsessive when trying to figure out ones’ life. How should I best live? What line of work is best to realize my full potential? What personality traits does my soulmate have? Or in general, what can I do to put my life back on track?
Popular Online Personality Tests
There is a multitude of personality profiling tests available on the Internet. We love tests and quizzes to find out our working style, ideal career, team capability, creative style, romantic tendencies, dress code, and favorite pet.
Personality tests are catering to every need.
Best Known Personality Profiling Tests Include:
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – The MBTI is an introspective self-report questionnaire to reveal varying psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions. Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the original versions of the MBTI based on the conceptual framework conceived by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.
DISC Personality Test – DISC is a behavior assessment tool established on the insights of psychologist William Moulton Marston. The DISC theory pivots on four distinct personality traits, which are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). Industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke then developed the DISC theory into a behavioral assessment tool.
Enneagram of Personality – or merely the Enneagram (from the Greek ‘nine and ‘written’ or ‘drawn’) is a model of the human psyche as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. While the theoretical origins of the Enneagram of Personality remain unclear, contemporary Enneagram claims the works of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo as key.
Big Five Personality Test – The Big Five personality traits are a taxonomy for personality traits. This theory suggests five broad dimensions or factors describing the human personality and psyche.
The five factors are:
Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)
Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached)
Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident)
Free Online Tests To Determine Your Personality Type
There are free and paid versions of all of these personality profiling tests available. Naturally, paid versions offer you deeper insights and references. But free tests will give you a feel of profiling your personality to start the journey.
Out of the free websites, I recommend the Open-Source Psychometrics Project (OOSP). The OOSP has probably the most comprehensive collection of interactive personality tests. These personality assessments range from widely used scientific psychological instruments to self-produced quizzes. The OSSP website is a great place to start with the Big Five Personality Test. Then the site also offers a Jungian personality test (MBTI) as well as the Enneagram, among other personality inventories for further exploration.
So Do You Know Your Personality Type – So What Is Next?
Here is a little confession: I love personality tests. They can be revealing and are also entertaining. But I dislike them too. Here is why:
As human beings, we crave certainty. We want to know what it is all about. Knowing who we are and what our purpose is can become existential anxiety. That is why there is such an obsession with personality tests.
By the way, what exactly is a personality? In psychology, the term ‘personality’ involves psychological attributes that give people a particular and somewhat persistent and predictable approach of responding to the world.
Saying that a personality style is ‘somewhat stable and predictable’ begs the question if and to what extent a personality can change.
The Changeability of Personality
A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology dug into 50 years of personality-related data to find an answer. Results suggest that certain personality aspects persist in time, whereas others varied distinctly. That is to say, personality is relatively stable and changeable at the same time. Further, the degree of changeability is specific to each person.
As a consequence, personality types are not fixed. So any profiling is taking inventory of yourself today. And that introspection is a good thing. But the negative aspect would be to understand a personality type as a kind of destiny. Especially when it comes to choosing a profession or a romantic partner based on psychological profiling, treading with caution would be wise. What about one’s own volition? Rather than carrying a personality like a stamp on the forehead that predicts the future course of life, take it as a possible starting point for further personal development.
It is a peculiarity of psychology and the whole industry catering to self-exploration and personality profiling that personality researchers hardly ever talk about personality types. For practical reasons, it is easier to think in types. In scientific terms, however, personality researchers hardly ever use the MBTI, for example, as exact personality types seldom exist. They also don’t map into the five big traits, which is the preferred profiling tool among researchers since the 1980s.
Does ‘Know Thyself’ translate to ‘Know Your Personality Type’?
There are two more grains of salt in personality testing: When personality tests serve as career indicators, they may box a candidate into a specific image. And when personality profiling aims at self-exploration, introspection, and personal development, how to avoid projections? After all, these tests are self-reported, meaning that you get to choose your type. I have found that, especially with the MBTI, people tend to select their profile based on their desired self-image. I have no research to back this, but it strikes me as a reasonable assumption in a world where so many feel under pressure to create their own positive identity.
Ultimately a personality is about behavior, real-life actions that define the course of a lifetime. There are more than 3000 words in the English language that refer to personality. We are all individuals.
There are two sets of factors that influence behavior — the elements inside the person and those in the environment or situation. So the more we strive to become a person rather than discovering ourselves as a pre-existing personality, the more you will be in conditions that impact your character further. We create ourselves the basis of who we are today. Knowing our personality type can be a boon in understanding what to tackle next.
But like Norman O. Brown once said, ‘Personality is the original personal property.’ And speaking with Victor Frankl, ‘being human is having a responsibility.’ As such, personality types can be hugely useful as an introspective status quo, but they cannot describe all we can be as human beings.