As human beings, we all possess a range of character traits and behavioral tendencies that make us unique. They influence the way we think, feel and act, and together form the basis of our personality.
These traits and tendencies have been explored for thousands of years – from Ancient Greek philosophy to the modern discipline of personality psychology we know today – and whilst no single scientific theory exists, it’s widely held that we are all ascribed to a personality type.
Whilst most of us put little thought into what makes us who we are, understanding our personality type has many benefits. It can help us navigate relationships, find deeper fulfillment, and partake in self-observation for personal growth
The best way to start this journey of discovery is with a personality test
What Is a Personality Test?
come in varying forms but typically fall into one of two categories – projective tests and self-report inventories.
Projective tests are most often used in psychotherapy, whilst self-report inventories have more general applications and are the ideal way to learn more about your personality type.
One of the most popular uses of self-report inventories is in recruitment, so you may well have taken this type of test before.
They use questions or statements relating to personal preferences and behaviors which the test taker rates on a sliding scale. Based on the responses given, a profile is constructed and a personality type is revealed.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
is one such test. Its premise is that every individual leans more in one direction in terms of:
- Extraversion vs introversion
- Sensing vs intuition
- Thinking vs feeling
- Judging vs perceiving
From these categories, a four-letter personality is assigned. For example, someone assigned the ISFJ personality type would display the characteristics of introversion, sensing, feeling and judgment.
There are 16 Myers-Briggs personality types in total
, each with its own list of character traits and tendencies.
Though widely used, Myers-Briggs is not the only tool for identifying personality types. Other common tests include:
- The Birkman Method, which looks at motivation, self-perception, social perception and mindset.
- The DiSC methodology, which separates individuals based on the traits of dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness.
Whatever the personality test used, the purpose is the same – to uncover the underlying characteristics that make us who we are.
What Can a Personality Test Tell Us About Ourselves?
Now we know what they are, what can personality tests actually tell us?
Well, they can help us learn more about how we perceive and interact with the world around us, how we make decisions, and where our strengths and weaknesses lie.
They can help us understand our motivations, social preferences
and emotional responses, and they can help us on the road to both personal and professional development.
Referring back to Myers-Briggs as a point of reference, we can learn the following from each of the four categories:
This is where our energies lie. Extroverts tend to be action-oriented and take their energy from social interaction. Introverts reflect inward, preferring to process ideas and information in private.
This refers to the way we process information. Sensing applies to those that rely on experience and fact, whereas those that lean toward intuition apply abstract thinking and explore ideas in terms of possibility.
This is how we make decisions. Thinkers analyze facts to inform their choices, whereas feelers work on gut instinct and values.
This is how we prefer to structure our lives. Judgment refers to those with a need to plan and organize. Perception on the other hand indicates flexibility and a preference for spontaneity.
This is of course a broad overview, and it should be noted that your personality type is not conclusive. Many things influence who we are, such as our culture, background and experience.
That said, in exploring our personality type, we can begin to explore ourselves in greater depth and work towards self-improvement.
The Benefits of Understanding Your Personality Type
- It can help you be comfortable with who you are – When we understand the role personality type plays in the way we behave, we become more at ease with who we are. For example, have you ever wondered why you tire easily in social situations when your friends can hold a conversation for hours on end? It’s because the introvert in you needs time alone to refuel and re-energize, whilst those still standing are likely introverts that crave the spotlight. Once we know what drives our behavior, we stop questioning it and embrace our true selves.
- It can help you make better choices – We all make choices every day, but how often do you stop to consider how your decisions match your personality? Perhaps the most obvious example here is finding a job that aligns with your energy. In exploring your personality type, you get a deeper insight into your strengths and weaknesses, your working preferences, and the type of environment you find most productive. This can help you choose a truly fulfilling career path that meets your personal needs, and allows your professional self to flourish.
- It can help you build more meaningful relationships – This applies in both a personal and professional context. By understanding our personality type, and those of the people around us, we can learn to recognize and value differences. We can better understand and meet the needs of our loved ones and co-workers, and reach out to others when we are in need. Our relationships become stronger because they are built on an understanding of individuality.
In conclusion, whilst your personality type does not define you, personality tests are useful tools that can help you become more self-aware and lead a life with greater purpose and fulfillment.