We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Personality Test?

By Marlene de Wilde
Updated Feb 26, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A personality test is a test that measures different aspects of a person's psychological traits and behavior, particularly those that remain relatively unchanged throughout a lifetime. They can measure patterns of behavior, thoughts and feelings. They are often used in the workforce to evaluate potential employees in terms of skills, intelligence and integrity, and to identify different learning styles. Developed by psychologists, the tests are scored and then compared with norms or averages for a specific group.

There are many different types of personality test. Some are projective tests that use unconscious projections of attitude on ambiguous situations. These include the famous Rorschach Inkblot Test or the Thematic Apperception Test. The former assesses a person's reaction to inkblots while the latter uses pictures as a basis for the client to make up a story. The development of the tests are usually theoretical or statistical and are refined over time.

Other tests use questionnaires that have a much higher level of standardization than the projective tests. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test was created in 1942, and its most recent revision in the early '90s is one of the most widely used personality tests. The very first personality test was used in 1919 and coincided with the emerging science of psychology. Called the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet, it was used by the United States Army on new recruits in order to determine whether they were likely to suffer from battle fatigue.

The widespread use of personality tests in the workplace has come under criticism as some experts feel too much weight can be placed on the results of the tests. There are hundreds of tests available, but not all of them are psychologically sound or valid personality tests. People are complex beings, and the reduction of their characters to a series of "yes, no or maybe" questions has led some to doubt the usefulness of personality tests.

The popularity of personality tests in non-clinical settings can be explained to some extent by the Forer effect. This is when very vague or generalized statements are taken as precise and personal. For example, a test may come back with an analysis like "you can be self-critical" or "sometimes you feel you have not made the right decisions." These kind of statements are accurate for everyone at some stage of life, but because people want to believe the analysis, they take the information as personal and specific.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Oct 12, 2013

I like the Myers Briggs personality trait test. I did it the other day and the results completely match! I have an INFP personality according to the test.

By bluedolphin — On Oct 12, 2013

@literally-- I agree that not all personality tests are reliable. I personally don't trust those free personality tests that pop up everywhere on the net. But there are a few, established personality tests that are reliable and used by psychologists and psychiatrists. I don't think that there is any harm in trying those.

Something else to keep in mind is that no one is perfect. The purpose of a personality test is not to point out someone's weaknesses, compare them to others and ridicule them. The point is discovering oneself, as you said. Everyone has positive and negative characteristic traits. Sometimes we can't see the type of person we are objectively and this is where personality tests come in. You don't have to be bound to a personality test and whether to take it seriously or not is up to you.

By literally45 — On Oct 11, 2013

I used to be very interested in personality tests. I enjoyed doing different online personality tests and reading my characteristics. It felt like I was discovering myself.

At some point, I got tired of them for several reasons. One reason is that there are many different personality tests based on different concepts and measurements. Most of them work well, but they can also clash. Every personality test seems to be based on the interests and background of the founder. So it's difficult to know whether these tests are truly accurate.

The other problem with personality tests is that they can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I noticed that when I read the results of a personality test, I become influenced by how the test describes me. I'm scared that by reading and confirming a negative personality trait, for example, I'm going to strengthen that trait and make it a permanent part of my personality even if it isn't now.

For these reasons, I stopped doing personality tests. I don't think about how I am anymore.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.