Obsessed with the Dimensional personality test and other quizzes like Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram? Here’s why.
If we’re friends, you know it’s no secret that I love personality tests. I’ve taken several, and I often bring it up in conversation. In particular, my favourites are the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram assessments. I proudly identify as the thoughtful and imaginative INFJ, and the peace-loving Enneagram type nine. So, when a friend nudged me to try out Dimensional’s personality test (an app that measures over two hundred traits across different dimensions), I was on board.
Apparently, so were many others. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen plenty of friends post their Dimensional results on social media. It tells you everything from your calling in life to your worst habits in love. The app even has a function that allows you to add other people and compare your results with theirs. A close colleague of mine peeked at my page to find our core identities are 99% similar. Freaky!
It made me wonder why we adore taking personality tests so much. What exactly do these results mean in the grand scheme of things? Are there any dangers or limitations that come with following them too closely? I speak to career and psychology experts to find out.
A little backstory on the OG personality test
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: the very first personality test was developed back in 1919 during World War I. Known as the Woodworth’s Personal Data Sheet, its purpose was to suss out war enlistees who’d be susceptible to nervous breakdowns or shell shock. This trickled down into the workforce, and other variations of the test were used to help individuals uncover potential career paths and improve relationships.
Since then, more than 2,500 other personality tests, quizzes and questionnaires have popped up around the world. Outside of work, they’re also applied in other contexts like relationship counselling, clinical psychology, and even in educational institutions.
Fun fact: I first took the Myers-Briggs personality test back in secondary school. It said writing would be a suitable career path for me. Voila! Thirteen years later, here I am.
Why we love quizzes like the Dimensional personality test
So, why do we love personality tests? It’s simple. We’re a little… self-obsessed. And that’s not always a bad thing. “People are intensely interested in themselves. They like when there’s readily available information out there that can tell them who they are and what they should do,” explains psychotherapist Maria Micha of Maria Micha Counselling Centre.
That’s because being self-aware can help us in many areas of our lives. This includes our problem-solving abilities, the ways we cope with stress, how we react to conflict and interact with others. Syaza Hanafi, a clinical psychologist at Psychology Blossom, explains that aside from giving us perspective on who we are, these tests also help us make sense of our place in this world.
“We love finding out what makes us special and unique as individuals. But we’re also curious about how we fit into society,” she says. “Studies have found that in friendships and romantic relationships, individuals are attracted to others with very similar personalities. It fosters a sense of connectedness and belonging.”
You might find a lot of the people you surround yourself with have a personality type that’s close to yours. My best friends from university and polytechnic are all mostly introverted like me. And a quick chat with my editor revealed that almost everyone on the lovely Honeycombers’ editorial team identifies with the INFJ and INFP personality types.
I guess the old adage that suggests opposites attract might not be so accurate.
Personality tests in a professional setting
You probably stumbled across the Dimensional personality test (or other introspective quizzes) through recommendations from a friend – as I did. But these questionnaires aren’t just useful conversation starters at social gatherings. Just like the original personality test, some expert career coaches and HR managers still use them in the modern workplace.
Yogeswary D/O Nithiah Nandan, career coach at e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), shares that they carry out such assessments to help jobseekers find the right career based on their interests and personality. She explains that jobseekers who are self-aware tend to have more confidence in who they are and can secure a better employment fit. “Individuals often experience a higher level of job satisfaction when they take on roles related to their personality. It results in better work output and increased productivity,” she says.
In some job interviews, you may even be asked to fill in a personality test. And it’s not just to find out if you’ll be a good fit for the team culture. Sometimes it’s to ensure they’ve got enough of a variety of minds on the team to push the organisation forward. Your personality type may be exactly what they’re lacking.
“Every business leader should recognise the benefits of having different personality types in the organisation to promote neurodiversity,” says Lim Chai Leng, general manager at Randstad Singapore. “It can help drive creativity and innovation, as they’re able to share different perspectives or new solutions to old challenges.”
He adds that even in circumstances where tests aren’t used, hiring managers are trained to assess personality traits by asking scenario-based questions in interviews. But if you’re worried you’ll lose out on opportunities because of shyness or a ‘bad’ test result, don’t fret! “Personality tests serve more to understand the individual’s working style and they are not an opportunity to judge their character,” Chai Leng assures.
So you don’t have to worry too much – unless you’re truly an unpleasant person to work with.
Why personality tests can be limiting
As you can see, taking a personality test comes with plenty of benefits – from helping us find our place in this world to connecting us with like-minded individuals. But we should be careful about how we apply the results to our lives.
For one, these tests can be flawed because they’re not scientifically proven. While they’re a fun way to learn more about ourselves, they’re not the most reliable and can’t encapsulate the depth of our identities. Our personalities are far more complex and varied in real life. They’re also ever-changing depending on the events we experience. For example, the death of a close family member or a traumatic accident can alter our personalities dramatically.
We’re not the same people we were 10 years ago, and we won’t be the same individuals 10 years into the future. When we depend too heavily on personality tests, it limits us from seeking new experiences that can change us for the better. We may end up reaching for what reinforces our current belief system instead of allowing ourselves to try new things.
“In psychology, this is known as confirmation bias. You can see why this may be limiting,” Syaza says. “The question then becomes: are you introverted because you don’t like to go out? Or do you not like to go out because you’ve identified yourself as an introvert?”
Maria shares that this is how individuals can face a stunt in their personal growth. Especially if they choose to only be surrounded by people like themselves. “Most of us gravitate to people who are like us. But if we don’t learn to expand our horizons, we lack the opportunity to learn from others,” she explains.
Using personality tests the right way
So, it’s looking kinda bleak. But wait, before you delete Dimensional off your phone and scrub your browser history of all quiz sites, there’s a right way to use personality tests without the negative effects.
If you’re really interested in self-improvement, here’s what you can do. “Take your results to a proper clinical psychologist or counsellor, and let them assess if it is indeed real or just a fake picture of your personality,” Maria advises.
Don’t stop at ‘the knowing’. Take action. “Work towards the results that you want – whether that’s your behaviour, the feelings you want to experience, or the relationships you would like to have in your life.”
I love the Dimensional personality test and all the ways it’s helped me understand myself. However, maybe it’s time to pull back a little before I start letting it define who I really am. This means I may have to (unfortunately) stop starting conversations with strangers with “Hey, what’s your personality type?”. But I guess that’s okay with me… until the next personality test comes along.