Who am I? This is one of life’s greatest questions, inspiring works of art, revolution, spiritual practices, and many ethically ambiguous self-help authors.
Humans are constantly trying to figure each other out. According to psychology professors and researchers such as Zoe Liberman and Amanda L. Woodward, the human brain is programmed to categorize things and people as a way to unshroud the mystery of humanity. Over the course of human life, our inclination for categorization has resulted in many atrocities such as classism and racism. But it has also resulted in what some would also consider atrocities (albeit far lesser), such as the Myers-Briggs personality test.
“I think that there’s a degree to which the process of taking a personality quiz prompts you to introspect,” said Scully Randlet, a Berkeley High School English teacher. The question of “Who am I?” is one’s longing for self-realization. But are quizzes the best way to begin that journey, or is it generally intuitive?
“Self-realization or introspection comes naturally … and learning who you are as a person comes from within, even if it sounds cliche,” said BHS senior Emilio Huhndorf-Lima, in reflection of Randlet’s earlier statement. Although Randlet also agrees with Huhndorf-Lima’s point of view later stating, “Taking personality tests that tell you you’re a certain kind of person and then really taking that to heart and not actually exploring the full extent of who you are could be really damaging.”
And it’s true; knowing oneself takes a lot of work, and a single point of view is not typically an accurate representation. Believing quiz results as fact can often do more damage than not knowing at all.
Many people, however, see personality quizzes as entertainment. “With the heat towards some astrology signs and personality types, I think it’s just completely unwarranted,” said Hila Talia, a BHS junior. “People take it too seriously because I think it’s just something to do for fun.” Although it can be harmful to see a test result as an accurate representation of who you are, seeing it as an inconsequential game can be quite fun.
Of course, some tests have more bearing than others. The attachment style quiz, for example, is vastly different from a questionnaire that determines which Starbucks drink best aligns with your personality. “Generally it’s the sort of questions they’re asking that determine how seriously I take the conclusions,” said Randlet explaining the legitimacy of different types of quizzes.
The differences between psychologically based tests and pseudoscientific ones are what the test is attempting to uncover about a person, as well as how qualified the person developing the test is to make those conclusions. Similar to when researching for a paper, when learning about oneself, it’s important to use credible sources.