How Accurate Are Personality Tests and Horoscopes?

How Accurate Are Personality Tests and Horoscopes?


Hey there, welcome to Life Noggin. You humans love to put yourselves into categories. Dog person or cat person. Type A or type B. Scorpio or Taurus. I’ll admit, even I do this sometimes. (I’m a Ravenclaw, Virgo, ENFJ, and I love
dogs AND cats, in case you were wondering.) People even use these categories to make important
life decisions! We think of these things like the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator and other personality tests as giving us some sort of explanation of why
we are the way we are. Because of that we place a ton of weight on
them when it comes to decisions like what career path to go down or which college to
attend. We treat them like they’re based on scientific
facts. But are they really all that meaningful? Well for starters, let’s define these terms. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, also known
as the MBTI, is a test that supposedly reveals four facets of your personality: introversion
vs. extraversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving. It involves a series of questions about your
tendencies and preferences, all of which results in a set of four letters that are supposed
to sum you up as a person. Apparently people who are Introverted, Sensing,
Thinking, and Judging are best suited for jobs as school administrators, airline pilots,
or dentists, while ESFPs should work as teachers, flight attendants, or dental hygienists. Seriously. Another common personality descriptor that
people love to read into is their zodiac sign. Your zodiac sign, which is a sign given to
you based on how the sun was aligned when you were born, is thought by many to determine
a lot of your characteristics. For instance, a Scorpio (which is someone
born between October 23rd and November 21st) is supposed to be jealous and stubborn, while
a Capricorn (someone born between December 22nd and January 19th) is responsible and
condescending. One common thread among these personality
tests and horoscopes is something called the Barnum Effect, which basically says that people
believe that personality descriptions given as results of a personality test are highly
accurate and suit them specifically, even when the same list of traits is actually given
to everyone who took the personality test. This is because the given traits are what’s
known as high base-rate characteristics, meaning that they’re true of a large portion of
the population. Examples of high base-rate characteristics
are statements like “sometimes you’re too hard on yourself” or “you really want
other people to like you.” Does that sound just like you? Well, it sounds like a lot of people. That’s the point. So now if you’re thinking “these tests
don’t sound very scientific,” well, you’re right. While the creators of the MBTI test claimed
it was based on the work of psychologist C.G. Jung, many modern psychologists agree that
it’s not really based in legitimate psychology. In fact, a group of characteristics known
as the Big Five—which are extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness,
and openness—are regarded as alternative personality descriptors that are actually
based on the scientific method. It’s believed that the Big Five may actually
have some bearing on things like job performance, and some scientists have even worked to locate
regions of the brain that can be associated with individual aspects of the Big Five. In their 2010 study, they found that conscientiousness,
for example, is significantly correlated with the volume of the middle frontal gyrus, a
section of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. So while the Big Five appear to be legitimate,
the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and other tests that heavily depend on the Barnum Effect
seem… fake. It’s all fun and good to put yourself in
a box and label it with four letters that claim to define you as a person, but it’s
pretty much meaningless. So don’t worry if you don’t know your
personality type or if it changes every time you take the test—it won’t do you that
much good anyway. And you’re fine the way you are! So do you have certain personality type? Do you believe in horescopes? Let me know in the comment section below. Or tell us, what should we talk about next! As always, my name is Blocko and this has
been Life Noggin. Don’t forget to keep on thinking!

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