At some point in life, we all face challenges and opportunities that make us step back and self-assess, asking big questions like “Who am I?” and “What do I want to do with my life?”
Self-discovery is a huge part of overall life satisfaction. Research shows that people who are self-aware are happier, have better relationships and have greater job satisfaction. One tool for gaining self-awareness is personality testing.
When appropriately applied, personality tests can help individuals in every aspect of their life — from developing healthy habits to thriving at work to forming more meaningful relationships.
What is a personality test — and why should you take one?
Personality tests are a valuable way to help individuals better understand themselves. They can be used to identify strengths, weaknesses, values, motivations and interests — allowing you to craft strategies to excel in your professional and personal life.
Many of these tests also provide insight into how others perceive you and can help increase emotional intelligence and better manage interpersonal relationships. Ultimately, personality tests can help you make sense of your unique personality and be better able to make decisions that are best for you.
There are several types of personality tests, from Buzzfeed’s AI-generated quizzes to psychometric assessments such as the Big 5 Personality Model. In this article, we’ll focus on the latter. As much fun as it is to learn what emotional support water bottle you are, scientifically validated assessments are significantly better tools for personal and professional development.
What is the best personality test?
There is no single “best” personality test, as different tests measure and interpret different aspects of personality. The ability to determine which personality test is best for an individual depends in part on what the person wishes to learn about themselves and their overall objectives. Some personality tests are broad spectrum, mapping your overall strengths, weaknesses, aptitudes and preferences, while others have a narrower aim to help with career planning and development.
Some of the most commonly used and respected personality tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), Big Five Personality Test, and the DISC Assessment. It is important to note that none of these tests provide a definitive answer but rather allow individuals insight into themselves and how they interact with others.
Myers-Briggs Personality Test (MBTI®)
One of the most popular personality assessments is the 16 personality types inventory developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs. This assessment, inspired by Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, measures personality preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.
The test is comprised of four personality dichotomies:
- Introversion/Extraversion explains how you gain energy — from your inner world (Introversion) or the outside world (Extraversion).
- Sensing/iNtuition explains how you collect and process information. Sensors process information based on the details of their immediate environment and memory recall; iNtuitives look for context and think about patterns, meaning and connections.
- Thinking/Feeling explores your decision-making process. Thinkers look for what’s factually correct, and Feelers make decisions based on their emotions or values.
- Judging/Perceiving explains how you prefer to organize your environment. Judgers seek structure and order, whereas Perceivers prefer to leave things open and flexible.
Based on where your responses fall along these four dichotomies, you are sorted into one of 16 personality types. The results of this test can be used to help people understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as how to best work and interact with colleagues, friends and family.
Note: The MBTI® is the original assessment developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs. Truity’s TypeFinder® test is based on Myers and Briggs' theory and original empirical research, but it is not the same as the MBTI®.
Big Five Personality Test
The Big Five Personality Test is a psychometric assessment that measures an individual’s personality along five dimensions of personality: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.
The most widely accepted personality theory in the modern scientific community, the Big Five provides insight into how individual personalities differ and why. Unlike other personality tests, the Big Five test does not provide “types” but instead provides trait profiles based on the individual’s responses.
In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Jennifer Fayard explains, “Psychologists prefer traits to types. One reason is that types are a collection of multiple traits. Additionally, type approaches categorize people as extremes when in reality, human qualities are better represented by a continuum, with more of us in the middle than at the ends. This principle is demonstrated in the way the Big Five are measured, with questions using a sliding scale rather than a forced-choice format.”
DISC Personality Test
The DISC Assessment is a psychometric test that measures an individual’s behavior and communication style. The results show where a person falls along two axes of behavior: task focus/people focus and action focus. Taken together, these two axes form a grid, where each quadrant represents one of the four DISC personality types: Drive, Influence, Support and Clarity.
The DISC Assessment is unique in that it identifies an individual’s overall communication style and provides strategies to better interact with people who have different styles. It also helps individuals discover their strengths and weaknesses and provides insights into what motivates them, how they respond in different situations and on teams, and how they interact with others.
Because of its career focus, the DISC personality test can help you find a job that's the best fit for your natural strengths. Beyond career selection, there are many benefits to gaining practical insights into your work style, including better communication, improved working relationships, better goal achievement, more deliberate career planning and greater self-esteem.
Enneagram Personality Test
The Enneagram is a personality system that measures nine types of personality. Each personality type has its own set of core motivations, fears, strengths, blind spots and opportunities for personal growth.
The Enneagram helps us develop greater emotional intelligence and self-awareness, as well as a better understanding of others’ behaviors and decisions. Because of its depth of insight into a person’s inner motivations and values, the Enneagram is often used in coaching and counseling.
“A healthy and meaningful life consists of living in alignment with one's values. The Enneagram articulates some of these values,” said Dr. Timothy Yen, licensed psychologist and CEO of Pivot Counseling. “For therapy clients, the Enneagram can help understand their values and motivations as a way to demystify their pathological thoughts and behaviors.”
“In most cases, the needs or wants are typically not the problems but rather an unhealthy way to meet those needs or wants. The Enneagram helps clients make sense of their worldview with the potential of crafting them in a more holistic way.”
Other Popular Personality Tests
The above personality tests include the most popular personality tests and those most commonly used in professional settings. However, there are plenty of other personality tests you can take to better understand yourself. Some are more robust, scientifically validated assessments, while others are more for fun. Examples include:
- The Color Personality Test: The True Colors Personality Test® is a personality temperament sorter that sorts test takers into one of four color-coded results (Blue, Orange, Green or Gold). It is loosely based on the work of Myers and Briggs and Dr. David Keirsey’s four temperaments.
- The Toxic Person Test: Truity’s Toxic Person Test determines what personality traits may make it difficult for you to get along with others. The test, which includes seven type results, is based on an analysis of 200+ personality behaviors that correlate with the Big Five dimensions.
Is there a downside to personality testing?
The primary downside of personality testing is that it can be subjective; the results are highly dependent on the test taker’s insight into their own thoughts and behavior, as well as their motivation to be honest in their responses. An individual’s results may be skewed when they know that the results are shared with others, such as in a workplace setting. Workplaces that highly value cognitive diversity will have the most success in using personality assessments with teams.
There are also some ethical considerations when it comes to using personality tests. Because personality testing can reveal aspects of an individual that they cannot control, these results should be treated with sensitivity. Particularly in professional settings, it is important that personality assessments are used strictly for coaching and development, and never to pigeonhole or stereotype an employee. Most personality tests (including all the tests discussed in this article) should not be used to make hiring decisions; to do so would be both ineffective and unethical.
Finally, it is essential to note that personality tests should not be used as a replacement for professional mental health services. Personality tests cannot diagnose or treat mental illnesses like depression or anxiety.
Which personality test is right for you?
The best personality test for you depends on what you are looking to learn about yourself. As different tests measure and interpret different aspects of personality, it’s important to evaluate the various tests available and decide which one best fits your needs.
Keep in mind that personality tests are not meant to be definitive labels that put you in a box, but rather tools that help you gain more insight into who you are. When you are able to see yourself and your life situations more objectively and holistically, you can make better decisions.
Every personality assessment can help you gain greater clarity and self-understanding. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which personality test is the most appropriate and beneficial for you. If you’re unsure or just want to explore various aspects of your personality, take as many as you’d like! Truity’s library of personality assessments includes many of the previously mentioned tests and more.