By Marianne Curtis
The fascination and entertainment found in taking personality tests has been titillating people for decades. Magazines, newspapers, and even community newspapers usually have at least one quiz that promises to help the reader determine something significant about themselves. With the modernization of the world’s communication methods, a simple search on the Internet can result in almost six million websites that offer online psychological tests to find out more about one’s personality, intelligence, career, health and relationships.
The majority of people taking these tests realize that the quizzes are set up for entertainment value. However, in some cases, the results of these tests become the subject of discussions and comparisons to the point of becoming a major popularity draw in online communities. An online community can consist of a cyber chat room or message board that draws people with specific interests to that particular domain. The tradition of posting links to an interesting personality test that someone has come across, is a common one in these online places that usually draws many participants. When such an invitation is posted, it is assumed that everyone who sees the link will go complete the test and then report back their results in the same thread. The intent being that persons who take the test with post their results to help facilitate the “getting to know you” process of becoming a true participant in that particular online community.
The initial plan of finding out more about other site visitors is usually the intent of posting links to personality tests as it is considered a good way of figuring out who are the “crazies”. However, sometimes the results of the tests become a means to cut out people. I have seen women who have answered a “poll” (what test links are referred to by some) get bashed because they admit that they think outside the box. Depending on the type of test it is, this has led to the negative use of that test information by bored or mean chatters. A “I am better then you” attitude sometimes gets adopted and soon the actual fun of the test is replaced by the feeling of regret at being dumb enough to post the results.
In this scenario, personality tests can be both good and bad. While the initial intent maybe to give everyone an equal opportunity to let others know who they are, the test results are also sometimes used to divide and separate. After speaking to a few personality test junkies, some admit that they have not posted their real answers for fear of being ostracized for thinking differently then everyone else.
On the other hand, posting the results of a personality test can be a means to open the doors for a lively discussion – depending on the content. It is definitely fun to go find out what your perfect chat name would be, or what you were in a past life. However, people need to understand that these tests are for entertainment value, and good laugh. They should not be used as a means to weed people out, just because they don’t think the same way you do, or be the basis for a popularity contest.
Most of all, if a person is just trying to fit in – don’t take an online personality test and then post the results – because the ultimate test is not what you find out about yourself when you take the recommended test. The test ultimately becomes how well you survive the “fitting in test”.