Millions of people take personality tests every year. From free to paid all of them follow the same basic principle. Measure a person through a long questionnaire and determine where they score within a set of predefined factors. But why do people volunteer so much time to these tools? We may have some answers for you!
The "modern" personality test came about around during the 1910's and over the last 100 years the methods and machinations which form the analysis of a persons "psychology" have not changed dramatically. Fill in a form containing a multitude of questions and rate your immediate reaction to each. An algorithm then calculates a score and produces a end result to which the person reads through and accepts as their "personality measurement".
There are many algorithms that have been developed in the last 100 years, starting from Meyers Briggs to DISC to the Big Five but each follows the same pattern of input/output with various different levels of detail produced to help the end user - often the value offered is directly based on the amount paid to the supplier of the tool. But why do people like this process so much, why is it so ingrained in our culture that people submit there information so willingly into this process?
The different measurement methods
Personality assessments fall into two camps: those created and accredited by psychologists - and those created by enthusiasts online. Both are designed to help a person understand which type of personality they have. The latter however falls into the pseudoscientific category. Often these tools use a very well studied principle called the Barnum Effect whereby people naturally apply meaning to vague and general statements which they believe apply to them, the degree to which this affect is used varies based on the tools credibility, all the way from complex analysis and customised results to palm-reading and horoscopes equivalents.
This becomes a hugely important factor in how these tools are accepted in modern society as they aim to provide people with the positive psychological reinforcements which manifest as feeling improved self worth, better mindfulness and improved clarity and purpose. Giving people a positive result leads to positive feelings which creates a network affect as people share them between friends on social media sites like Facebook. The growth of these tools grow and as people enjoy them.
What have we seen at Weavee?
At current count the Weavee Personality Tool has been completed 25,000+ times and is adding roughly 50 new completions per day - a considerable growth amount for a small tool. It is also using the Big Five personality test - a method known for it's scientific credibility and accuracy. We have been asking people when they complete the tool to tell us why they took it - but before they received their results. These are the top responses:
Being Curious to see the results
The large majority of participants are looking to understand their personality and see what the results of the tool does different to the other tools they have used. This is important as it showcases how the majority (> 40% of our audience) consider their personality as an element of their life. If we dig into how people view their results they are looking to understand themselves but will view the majority of the tool with initial scepticism - despite efforts to showcase credibility at every stage of the methodology as a part of people's daily lives. This potentially showcases how across the years the entire psychometric industry has been de-valued as people create tools which offer to little to no value but are entertaining for the user...
Following on from the fun element Weavee is advertised as a modern workplace tool, yet the second largest majority of people using the tool (>35%) are looking for some form of entertainment. Although we make no effort as a company to advertise the fun elements of the tool a large portion of the audience have already determined they would like to receive primarily entertainment from the tool. This suggests the reasons we complete personality tests is because they act as a alternative method to both judge ourselves, waste a little time and catalyse into a end-result which produces a potentially happy result which benefits the person completing.
For career and personal development
The most interesting we find is for individuals looking to become better (>25%). Often times we look at our hard skills without considering our softer - more personable skills. It's an easy and natural tendency to have when applying to roles that we only consider the hard skill requirements. But when advocates like Richard Branson exemplify the usage of personality over skills we have to consider how we approach our careers for the future. Many of the people completing the personality tool on Weavee mention their situations of redundancy, or career transitions, or recent promotions. Personality is the driver of success as much (maybe more than) skills and the percentage of people looking to discover how their soft skills can help them forms a healthy percentage of people.
What should we conclude?
Personality is an element of who we are but psychometric tool usage outside the workplace has a natural tendency in the mind of the general user to be focused towards fun and entertainment rather than usage as a self improvement tool. Personality is a great measure of ourselves but it is also widely undervalued in the impact it can have on who we become and how we become better in ourselves. Hopefully this article will help you understand how people value the key elements of themselves and help you consider which tool to take when you see the next inevitable pop-up on facebook asking "which X is closest to your personality type?".