Drum roll, please… In this week’s blog, I present to you the dark side of personality tests. Keep reading to know more about the dark side of the personality tests.
Who are you? What comes onto your radar easily, naturally and comfortably? And what flies under your radar because it’s unimportant, “foreign,” or awkward for you? And most of all, what implications does all of this have?
One popular way to answer these questions is through so-called personality tests.
Side note: I say so-called because they’re not truly tests. Tests have right and wrong answers, which these don’t. Rather they’re personality assessments. But because personality tests are what people are used to calling them, let’s stay with that.
Personality tests can unlock the life you want to live, OR they can be used against you without you knowing.
So says Persona; The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests. It’s a fascinating (and at times harrowing) dive into the world of personality tests.
“Hawkins’ new HBO Max documentary, Persona: The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests, investigates America’s infatuation with personality testing, revealing the surprising origin story behind the MBTI while surfacing ethical questions and criticisms that these seemingly harmless instruments are profoundly discriminatory and reflective of larger troubling issues of who exactly is considered worthy and valuable in society.” Source: Lisa Wong Macabasco, The Guardian
Ever since the day, decades ago, where I was happily writing out one of my beloved lists and my then boyfriend/now husband peered over my shoulder and said, “doesn’t that make your head hurt,” I’ve been hooked. But more about that in my next post.
Seventy percent of organizational expenses are related to human capital (source: Persona) and yet instead of building on the diverse talents, insights, skills and perspectives of our staff and teams, we usually do the exact opposite. We don’t capitalize on the strengths that folks bring to the table. We don’t learn from each other. And we tend to stick to our (narrow) world view and stumble on in our silos.
Other perspectives, other views, are filled with opportunity and yet they can be hard to uncover through the thick lens of our own views.
Add to that, being human means seeking certainty. Sixty percent of our behaviour, in fact, is aimed towards reducing ambiguity and gaining certainty (even and especially when that means making bad decisions!). Source: What’s your tolerance for ambiguity? (And why it’s key to know).
Combine our natural need to reduce ambiguity and increase certainty, even if it means making poor decisions with a global pandemic (can you say uber increase in ambiguity – when will this be over? When will I get my first/second vaccine? Are my neighbours, teammates, boss, colleagues etc vaccinated? What will it be like returning to work? Etc. etc. etc. and you get a hot mess of sticking to our silos and what can be inflexible thinking and actions.
There are definitely downsides to personality tests.
- Personality tests have been manipulated to be uber complex. For some you pretty much need a PhD and/or an expert to decode them and what’s the use in that?
- Results of these tests can lead to highly charged, highly competitive stances. “My way of being is way better than yours!”
- Results can also lead to prescribing and predicting behaviour and damaging pigeonholing. “You’re an xyz, so that means de facto, absolutely abc.” “Oh, you’re an lmnop, so you can take care of all of these tasks.”
- Personality tests can also, as Persona states, be used to determine worthiness. Like using a pharmaceutical for off label use, using personality assessments, for example, to hire is wrong and harmful. (Persona.)
These ways of using personality test results are NOT helpful, ethical or empowering. Rather they lead to more entrenched beliefs and behaviours and less learning, growth and collaboration.
But personality tests can be incredibly helpful. I’ll share with you how in my next post.
In the meantime ….
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Look what can happen when we stick with our head down, narrow view!
- Interested to know your own Life Lenses® and/or those of your team? Find out more here. For the very first time it’s available to be taken online. You and/or your team can take it and instantly get your results and a thorough report on how to use your insights. Enjoy!
P.S. Curious to know more about your worldview and perspective? Check out my Life Lenses® online assessment.