Psychometric Tests: Logical or Astrological?


You must have seen Facebook personality quizzes which, through short questionnaires, tell you which movie character you are or which breed of dog you would be, if you were one. If you have taken one of these quizzes, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that you enjoy them and most often than not, show them off on your timeline. It is quite normal. But when it comes to the label “Psychometric Test”, people tend to throw all the doubts out and take the results sincerely and seriously.

There is a thin line dividing the fun you see in such tests and the belief you put into it. When you cross the line and start believing in these tests and their results, it affects you, alters you and eventually, controls you. For example, if a businessman believes in astrology and his astrologer tells him to not make big investments and wait for the position of certain planet to incline with the moon, he would deliberately not entertain even the opportunities that he knows could reap out huge profits. In a similar scenario, a student might stop considering a field that requires him to talk if one of the tests tell him that he’s an introvert and should consider jobs requiring less interaction. But humans don’t work that way. We are too complex to be consistent in different situations at different points of time.

The Belief Psychology

Even though we are all supposed to be unique and complex creatures, each capable of doing different things to different degrees, we all find some amount of truth in the results of not just psychometric tests but also, astrology, fortune telling (and cookies!), graphology and aura reading.

There is a plausible explanation to why this happens: the Forer Effect (a.k.a. the Barnum effect). The Forer effect in psychology refers to the gullibility of people while reading descriptions of themselves.

When psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave out a psychology test to his students, he told them that each would get a personality sketch based on the results. But instead, he gave them all the same sketch with points like “You have a tendency to be critical of yourself” and “You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage.” These statements are applicable to most of the people, if not all of them. And not surprisingly, his students rated the accuracy of the test as 4.26 on a scale of 0(very poor) to 5(excellent).

Psychometric Tests, In a Nutshell

  • Psychometric tests, essentially, categorize individuals into handful number of types and define billions of people through one type. A color test I recently took has only four categories viz. Orange, Green, Gold and Blue.
  • Everyone taking one of these tests get the same set of questions and none of the answers generate or influence other questions that appear on the test. For example, if one of my answers is that I don’t like teamwork, there wouldn’t be a question going deeper into why I don’t like it. There could be many reasons for it. They could expose different facets of my personality.
  • The questions are multiple choice type and the answer to each question is restrictive and not subjective to each individual taking the test.
  • There is no “grey” area, either black or white. Assume that you score 51% in, say, Introversion-Extraversion scale. Then you are considered to be an Extrovert and the result set contains the description for the same.
  • Each personality type is standardized. The result set and its explanation for each type is common for all.
  • The test takers can easily sway the result in the desired direction as the answer options are quite suggestive of how they would affect the result.
  • Most of these tests rely on what you already know about yourself and rephrase and decorate them to provide you a result.
  • Many of the psychometric tests, including and most prominently the very famous Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), yield different result sets when taken by the same individual at a different time.
  • Funnily enough, most of the result sets have examples of famous personalities of the same type listed and guess who all made the cut? (Mother) Mary! She is an INFP type, if you are curious. Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter Series and Dana Scully from X-files are both ISTJ! There is no way they answered questions of a personality test because they Don’t exist! I rest my case.

Basing your important decisions including and not limited to the ones related to career on the tests and predictions(personality tests, astrology, fortune telling) which do not have any logic and science behind them could only lead you to wrong places in life. Or they might even convince you that it is the right place for you. So take charge and don’t let these tests or predictions of any kind fool you and control you. If you tend to fall for them, try to comprehend their methodology from a critical point of view and see where it takes you from there.

What are your views on psychometric tests and astrological predictions? Comment and share with us.

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