Personality tests allow for self-awareness in behavior


Maren Ostrem

Natature versus nurture is a long-debated topic in behavior studies.

Imagine a female child neglected throughout her childhood. As she progresses into her teenage years, she feels a core need to be liked and included. Possibly, she did not feel loved as a child and placed the cause of her struggle onto this absence. This would be an example of a psychological reaction to the factors of her upbringing, and it is these psychological and environmental factors that are the cause of behavior patterns.

One of the main controversies in the psychology world is that of nature versus nurture. Was this girl born clingy or was she conditioned through her environment? The answer to this is one or the other, but rather a mix of the two. Because, genetic factors can cause people to have certain physical or psychological traits, but so can the environment. According to Simply Psychology, twenty-first-century psychiatrists are mostly in agreement that nurture and nature interact with each other, and that neither one is the sole cause of any behavior. Now, the focus resides on how nature and nurture work against and with each other. The root cause of mental illnesses is often disputed by scientists, who are trying to discern exactly how genetic history and the environment relate.

It is difficult to know how much human behavior has changed throughout history, since there exists very few records pre-civilization. However, it is quite apparent to psychologists and scientist that our behavior is still similar to that of our ancestors and even our primate relatives, such as ingrained safety responses like fight or flight that were developed for protection. Humans also have biases when it comes to solving problems, and will choose the direction to take based on the potential for status gain. People are more likely to remember when they are owed money, than if they owe others money. These types of selective memory are similar to behaviors of our primate relatives who chose selfish tactics for survival.

Tutorials Point’s website states that the way that humans react to different situations are affected by these key ideas: abilities, sex, race, culture, attribution, and perception. Abilities include intellectual abilities, physical abilities, and self-awareness abilities. While these first two ideas are rather self-explanatory, self-awareness abilities might not be. Self-awareness is an individual’s abilities to perceive one’s how well they will be able to accomplish a task. This ability can affect one’s confidence levels, both positively and negatively.

While these tests and systems are not 100% accurate, they do help individuals grasp the diversity in how people think and why they react the way they do.”

When a high school student, for example, takes a math test and looks the test over before they start, they subconsciously assess how hard the test will be for them, and how well they will perform. This action determines the anxiety that student will feel throughout the test and how well they ultimately perform.

When a girl walks down the street, she will behave differently than a teenage boy in the same situation. The girl will more likely walk faster or constantly be checking her surroundings. Perception is the process of changing outside stimuli into meaningful information.

One’s sex and race may not influence the makeup of their brain so much as what societal pressures they perceive. For example, people of color are conditioned to have to behave much differently around police officers than white people because of the history of racism that shaped society’s police brutality today. The way society is structured influences people of color’s psychology in differently than the way society influences the psychology of white people. Often, this results in a dichotomy of behavior. For instance, when an African American’s house is broken into, they are less likely to call the police than a white person is.

Understanding human behavior can be quite complicated, so humans have come up with systems of categorization. While these tests and systems are not 100% accurate, they do help individuals grasp the diversity in how people think and why they react the way they do.

One of the most popular examples of these tests is the Myers Briggs test. According to OPP, a branch of the Myers Briggs Company, Katharine Briggs, and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers created The Myers Briggs test in 1943. Briggs was interested in the study of temperament and took inspiration from Carl Jung, a Swiss Psychiatrist who had recently published a book called Psychological Types. Using his extensive research, paired with her theories, he developed the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Test.

The Myers Briggs types include 16 different personality types and takes about 12 minutes to complete. It allows one to recognize who they are and what role they play in society. ”

The Myers Briggs test focuses on four different factors of human personality and behavior. The first factor is extrovert versus introvert. Extroverts are people who draw their energy from interactions with other people, and introverts draw energy from being alone. The second is sensing versus intuition. This perception is based on whether an individual relies more on facts or ideas, which will impact how one analyzes a situation and how they respond to the said situation. The third is thinking versus feeling. Do you think before you act, or do you act based on your emotions? When faced with a situation, will you take time to think, or will you act based on how you feel in the moment? The final factor is perceiving versus judging. People who perceive are more comfortable going with the flow, while people who judge need to have their days planned and organized.

The Myers Briggs types include 16 different personality types and takes about 12 minutes to complete. It allows one to recognize who they are and what role they play in society. The most common Myers Briggs personality type is the Defender. The Defender has great social skills, analytical abilities, and are very receptive to change and ideas. The second most common personality type is the Consul. The consul, is usually quite popular, enjoy being in the spotlight, and supporting their friends. The rarest of the Myers Briggs types is the Advocate. The Advocate has a sense of morality, take concrete steps to achieve their goals, have strong opinions, and are soft spoken.

The Myers Briggs test is only one of many personality tests and assessments. Other popular examples include the Enneagram, the Holtzman Inkblot Technique, and the Process Communication Model. All of these tests are valid and interesting ways of examining your own behavior and personality. A child who was neglected as a child is just one example of many situations in which human behavior is affected. The more one can learn about their own behavior and the causes behind it, the more they can feel comfortable being themselves and interact with others and the world that works the best way for them.

This story was originally published in the October 2018 edition of The Rubicon.