“Do you want to find out who you REALLY are?” the advertisement on the website sidebar greeted me. I normally ignore Internet ads, but something about this one caught my attention because the inane question referred to the OCEAN Personality Test, also known as the Big Five. One of my roommates, Shannon Callahan, is a graduate student in psychology at UC Davis and had told me a few days before that this is the personality test in which social psychologists put the most faith. Through questioning hundreds of thousands of participants during the 1970s, psychologists were able to distill all human traits down to five main ones, which make up the acronym OCEAN: Openness to experience/Intellect, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Not having anything more pressing than Facebook surfing to do at the time, I said yes to finding out who I “really” am.
The online version of this test is based on the official version, called the NEO Personality Inventory. The test that I took consisted of about sixty questions ranging from “Do you see yourself as someone who values aesthetic and artistic experiences?” to “Do you see yourself as someone who is sometimes rude to others?” I answered all of the questions as truthfully as I could, struggling through a few because it was difficult to determine whether I was usually a certain way, or just feeling that way at the moment.
Once finished, I clicked “Submit” and received a results report that told me who I was in less than 200 words. It turns out that “I am relatively open to new experiences (good thing, or this blog wouldn’t be here), well-organized and can be relied upon, I tend to shy away from some social situations, and I am generally relaxed.” This is actually a pretty accurate depiction of myself, and I was impressed with the test’s results.
Out of curiosity, I took a few more personality tests after this one, most of them based on the beloved tool of HR reps everywhere, the Myers Briggs Personality Test. I was alternately found to be INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) and ENTJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). My favorite part of this whole exercise was finding out that I alternately share the same results with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
If you’d like to try this out for yourself, and find out who you “really” are while wasting a solid 20 minutes, I suggest the following websites: http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/ for the OCEAN test, and http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm for the Myers Briggs test. Good luck!