Science-based personality tests to discover your strengths and weaknesses

Do you feel uncomfortable in your job or unsure of your career direction? Your current background might not suit your personality.

Personality tests are designed to gather information about an individual’s “motivations, preferences, interests, emotional makeup, and style of interacting with people and situations,” according to the U.S. Office of Management. personal.

Richard W. Robins, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, said Newsweek: “The vast majority of personality tests used by personality scientists are developed through a rigorous process that often takes many years, numerous research studies, and a considerable amount of complex statistical analysis.”

These are “obviously quite different” from the more “casually developed” quizzes you might find in magazines or online, he said.

They also differ from some of the personality tests used in the industry, such as the MBTI (Myers-Briggs), according to Robins. He added: “Many personality tests used in organizational settings are developed using the same rigorous methods that researchers use.”

John A. Johnson, professor emeritus of psychology at Penn State University, said Newsweek: “There are a number of professionally developed personality inventories, backed by decades of scientific research.

“Unfortunately, it is difficult, if not impossible, for someone who wants to know their personality strengths and weaknesses to have access to these inventories. Most require the services of a professional psychologist who administers the inventory to you and interprets the results for you.”

Johnson explained that in the late 1990s, Lewis R. Goldberg of the Oregon Research Institute became convinced that “strict control of personality measures by their editors” was impeding progress in personality research. In response, Goldberg developed the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP), a public domain resource.

Below are 10 science-based personality tests, according to Johnson and Robins.

1. The Big Five Inventory

The Big Five Inventory uses 60 items to “hierarchically rate” personality traits known as the big five. These are:

  • Extroversion
  • Emotional stability
  • Friendliness
  • Awareness
  • Openness to experience.

These are the traits most frequently rated in workplaces, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

This test, also known as BFI-2, is one of the most widely used measures of the big five. It examines 15 specific facets of each personality domain. For example, compassion, respect, and trust are all facets of agreeableness, Robins said.

The test assesses a wide range of “normal individual differences associated with important life outcomes,” according to Johnson. These include:

  • Happiness
  • Physical and psychological health
  • Spirituality
  • Quality of relationships
  • Professional choice
  • Satisfaction
  • Performance
  • Community involvement
  • Criminal activity
  • political ideology.

The test can be completed online for free at websites such as Out of Service.

Another “data and evidence-based” personality assessment based on the Big Five is the IPIP 10 Big Five Aspects Scales, which has 100 items and can be taken online at the Understand Myself site.

The test has “helped thousands of people make informed choices about their education, career and life in general,” Johnson said.

A questionnaire showing different personality traits, including extroverted/introverted and sensitive/insensitive.
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2. NEO Personality Inventory

The NEO inventory is named after three elements of the Five Factor Model – neuroticism (known as emotional stability in the big five), extraversion, and openness to experience – states the American Psychological Association (APA).

The freely accessible IPIP version of the NEO test was released by Johnson over 20 years ago. “It assesses personality traits similar to the 30 traits measured by the original NEO Personality Inventory and provides a report outlining the respondent’s traits and the consequences of possessing those traits,” he said.

Robins said: “The [Big Five Inventory] and NEO are both highly reliable and well validated, and hundreds of scientific studies have shown that scores on these tests predict important life outcomes, such as academic success, career success, health, wealth and well-being.

3. HEXACO Personality Inventory

The HEXACO model of personality structure has six elements:

  • Honesty-Humility (H)
  • Emotivity (E)
  • Extroversion (X)
  • Agreeableness versus anger (A)
  • Consciousness (C)
  • Openness to experience (O)

A 60-item version of the revised HEXACO Personality Inventory is freely available online and provides a brief assessment of the six personality factors.

A woman smiling at the therapist during the session.
A woman smiles at another woman during a coaching session. Most scientifically backed personality tests require the services of a professional psychologist to administer the inventory and interpret the results.
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4. The California Psychological Inventory

This self-assessment survey consists of 434 true/false statements. It is designed to assess adult and adolescent personality characteristics, interpersonal behavior and social interaction, according to the APA.

5. Temperament and Character Inventory

This 240-item true/false self-report questionnaire is based on Cloninger’s Psychobiological Model of Personality, the APA said. This model measures four dimensions of temperament (avoidance of harm, seeking novelty, dependence on rewards and perseverance) and three dimensions of character (autonomy, cooperation and self-transcendence).

6. The Multidimensional Personality Inventory

This “Normal Personality Inventory” assesses a range of basic traits related to “emotional sensitivity and motivation, interpersonal style, behavioral restraint and conformity, tolerance of risk avoidance, and ability to ‘imaginative engagement’, according to the Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences.

A clipboard with career personality test.
A clipboard with a sheet titled “Career Personality Test”. Personality tests can be used to assess a person’s potential to succeed in certain jobs.
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7. Jackson’s Personality Inventory

The Jackson Personality Inventory-Revised assesses personality traits to predict a person’s behavior in work, education, teams, and interpersonal situations.

Candidates are presented with 300 true/false items. It measures five cluster scores — analytical, extroverted, emotional, opportunistic, and reliable — plus 15 subscale scores across the five clusters, according to the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

8. Hogan’s Personality Inventory

The Hogan test consists of 206 true/false statements and is based on socioanalytic theory, which says people want to ‘get along’ and ‘get ahead’ of other group members, according to the British Psychological Society. .

“This approach suggests that individuals answer questionnaires as a way to inform others of how they want to be viewed,” the company said.

Two people wearing sunglasses, singing together.
A man and a woman wearing heart shaped sunglasses singing into a microphone. Extroversion is one of the key traits of the “big five” personality model.
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9. VIA Character Strengths Inventory

Johnson said: “Not everyone considers interests, virtues – character strengths – and values ​​to be part of the personality, but I do. In fact, interests, virtues and values ​​are among the strongest and most stable aspects of who we are, and understanding these important aspects of personality can be incredibly helpful in making good life decisions.”

For this reason, he recommends the VIA Character Strengths Inventory, which is available free of charge on the VIA Character Strengths Inventory website and the Authentic Happiness site.

“We all have character strengths, and VIA helps us recognize, understand, and act on our predominant character strengths. Recognizing and utilizing our character strengths is an effective way to achieve true happiness,” Johnson said. .

The “best research on values” was conducted by Shalom H. Schwartz, who identified 10 values ​​that are universal in all cultures, according to Johnson. Where people differ is the priority given to these universal values, he explained.

“Measuring the 10 Schwartz values ​​is somewhat difficult, and I couldn’t find a great online resource for self-assessment of these values,” Johnson said. He suggested the website as an option.

10. Autonomous research

Self-directed research, which can be done online, is another “reasonably priced personality and job training test,” Johnson said.

It was created by John L. Holland, described by Johnson as “the greatest professional psychologist of all time”.

The test was designed to be completed by an individual rather than being administered by a professional. “It’s a great way to explore careers and gauge your potential for success and satisfaction in different fields,” Johnson says.

People sitting in a business meeting.
People in a business meeting. Tests based on the Big Five personality model are frequently used in workplaces.
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