Art by Madeline Duvall
Students at Pepperdine have some of the highest performing and capable minds. For some, the realization that they are among others of like-minded brilliance may ignite an identity crisis. Personality tests grant students the opportunity to find themselves in a crowded field through self-actualization, the realization of one’s potential, and provide a means to identity.
However, when pursuing answers through dubious online assessments, it is important to take the results with caution and little weight as the human psyche is far too complex to be defined and labeled by a single test.
The MBTI assessment groups individuals into 16 different categories to serve as a framework for relationship building and self-actualization. The Enneagram is said to map the soul by unveiling childhood trauma, flaws and patterns of behavior to help those who take it begin a journey of self-discovery. The Strengths Finders Assessment helps test takers to discover their natural strengths through positive psychology, nearly the exact opposite method used by the Enneagram.
While these tests reveal different insights into one’s personality, they all provide results in the form of “types.” A “type” is the way in which people are classified, at least according to Carl Jung’s type theory. Some personality tests categorize people into numbers (Enneagram), a collection of traits (MBTI) or a compilation of top traits (Strengths Finder).
The results one gets from taking a personality test could contribute to a sense of self-actualization or it could further the identity crisis.
It is often thought that those who seek answers and affirmations from online personality tests are narcissistic in nature or egomaniacs — that is not necessarily true. There is an innate desire in human nature to understand the complexities behind the personality and to understand the inner workings of the human mind, according to psychotherapist Dana Dorfman and Refinery29.
Although most personality tests rest on unproven theories and claims that they are ineffective in predicting one’s success, people still heavily rely on the results to understand themselves. For those who take assessments like the Enneagram, MBTI or Strengths Finder, the results can provide valuable insight into actions and behaviors that are often inexplicable while also contributing to the need for individuality.
At Pepperdine, there is a deep focus on community and the establishment of genuine relationships. For many students, personality tests help to form interpersonal relationships by providing insight into other people’s personality types.
However, it is important to be mindful of other people’s wishes when pursuing relationships with personality test results at the forefront. Not everyone is especially savvy or fond of personality tests because they can be seen as baseless.
That being said, refrain from typing others without consent. Beginning relationships by making remarks such as “Oh, that is such a 4 thing to say,” or “You give me ENFJ energy,” can be offensive, especially when the comments are unsolicited.
One can pursue relationships knowing their own personality and behaviors if they wish, but take caution for the sake of others.
As the new year begins, students will often look for answers to provide insight into who and what they are supposed to be. While some may find these types of tests to be useless and empty, others believe in the results wholeheartedly. There is no right or wrong answer to the findings that personality tests provide, but the impact they have on self-actualization is clear. Results from personality tests can supply those who are curious the resources to continue evolving as humans and students.
Email Camryn Gordon: firstname.lastname@example.org