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From Buzzfeed to Myers-Briggs: Why College Students Love Personality Tests

With plenty of time on our hands during quarantine, many of us found ourselves with new hobbies and ways to occupy our time. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to endure, some of these activities became more than a passing trend. Many people found comfort in the endless personality quizzes available online. 

I too have found myself scrolling through different websites to find out what type of cheese I am or perhaps which fictional character I am most similar to. There’s also the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram tests, which are more serious. This, however, begs the question of why so many of us are infatuated with these silly quizzes.

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“I know me and my friend group specifically love taking them and comparing answers so for me it’s a social thing that gives you something to just talk about,” sophomore hearing and speech sciences major Gianna Zappulla said.

Exchanging and receiving quiz results is an activity we can do with friends online to comply with social distancing guidelines. Additionally, taking these quizzes allows you to get to know your friends more intimately and in different ways, even if the quiz isn’t super deep. 

“It’s interesting to see how I might be perceived by others versus my own self-view,”  University of Maryland graduate Julie Williams said.

Many students expressed similar sentiments in saying that personality tests help them uncover different parts of themselves.

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“They help understand why I think how I think,” sophomore math major Catherine Campbell said. “It pairs me with semi accurate traits, which describe why I feel certain things.”

The Myers-Briggs Foundation suggests that the results from their test can be used throughout everyday life. For example, the test reveals your strongest learning style, what professions you might be more inclined to and can even guide you through different stages of personal growth. However, many of those who study psychology do not believe the test to be meaningful. This still does not deter people from taking the test and resonating with their results. 

Not everyone who enjoys these quizzes enjoys delving deeper into their personality.

“I like confirming what I already know about myself,” sophomore journalism major Tori Vandergriff said.

While it may be fun to discover new things about yourself, it is just as entertaining to have these tests affirm parts of your personality you are already confident in. It is gratifying to find out that this quiz also thinks that I am sourdough bread as opposed to semolina bread.

A paper published in Current Issues in Personality Psychology last year found that most people who take these tests for entertainment purposes find it gratifying to receive a response they already believe to be true. For example, a fan of the Harry Potter franchise might already know what house they’d be sorted into, but taking an online quiz and getting that response brings them joy. The paper also explained that they can help people feel like they belong in the world.

Other students, however, do not enjoy these tests at all.

“I do not like them because you are taking it yourself so you just lie to make yourself feel better. I just feel like I know my personality and don’t need a test to tell me,” sophomore finance major Gemma Abbott said. 

To answer my earlier question, there are many reasons why people love these silly quizzes. It makes us feel like we belong, helps us dive deeper into ourselves, and might confirm things we already know. Love them or hate them, it does not appear as though these quizzes will be going anywhere any time soon. 

Julia Bischoff

Maryland '23

Journalism major attending the University of Maryland in the class of 2023. Passionate about environmental science, nature, and art.
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