Why Are We So Obsessed with Personality Tests?

Why is it that when we meet someone with the same Hogwarts House, Myers-Briggs type, or Enneagram number we are instantly connected as if we know for a fact we will be compatible with one another? As for myself, I’m a Hufflepuff, INFJ (The Advocate), and type 2 (The Helper). Although there's not a little sign lingering over each person’s head with their personality test results, it’s an easy conversation topic for small talk in my generation.  

Humans are drawn to a sense of belonging, we find comfort in meeting others who are like us. As a fellow prospective student during Rhodes admitted students day exclaimed to her parental figure, “I’m just trying to find my people, Mom!” It’s normal to gravitate towards people of our kind. Whether that means gravitating toward people with the same music taste, the same sexuality/gender identity, or even the same preference for cats or dogs.

Especially in the age of labeling, our generation must put others in a specific category, or we go crazy. While this is unavoidable, there are many situations in which this is unfortunate for some of us; for instance, labeling others’ sexual orientation, relationship status, or whether you’re a jock or a geek. 

Many of you might not be familiar with these three personality tests I mentioned before, so let me give you the rundown. The most common, Hogwarts Houses, comes from J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. There are four houses in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff), each bearing their own unique traits and characteristics. For example, Syltherin values ambition, leadership, and resourcefulness. Slytherins are stereotypically snobby, selfish, and rebellious. Although not all of us live in Scotland and attend Hogwarts, we categorize ourselves into the house that we think best suits us, or we label others based on what we think would best fit them.

Another test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), is more psychological and constructive. It involves a questionnaire whose purpose is to indicate how people perceive the world around them and make decisions. It includes four dichotomies: where you focus your attention (extraversion (E) or introversion (I)), the way you take in information (sensing (S) or intuition (N)), how you make decisions (thinking (T) or feeling (F)), and how you deal with the world (judging (J), or perception (P)). With 16 possible combinations, it’s always fun to meet someone with the same type as yours. This test digs a bit deeper than the Hogwarts House categorization. The results can give us insight into parts of our perception we didn’t think about before, such as how we deal with situations and how we make decisions. 

The last test, which I personally had not heard of until I started my first semester in college, is the Enneagram test. This test is a model of the human psyche understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. People of a particular type tend to have similar characteristics, although they can also differ among the nine types. For example, I am a type 2, a.k.a "The Helper." Type 2s typically hold love as their highest ideal. They are involved, socially aware, and usually extroverted.  

While none of these tests are meant to be taken seriously, as there’s no empirical evidence for the data the computerized tests collect, it can be a fun way to learn about each other, and as I said before, it draws us to one another. So next time you’re stuck in an ice breaker, bring up a personality test and get to know “your people!” 

(image 1- TheMindsJournal, image 2- Medium)