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The Danger of Personality Tests
by Julian X  /  non-fiction  /  4 Sep 2008

Internet personality tests are dangerous.  You have a few spare minutes, and they're just so tempting.

Until you see the results.

I recently took a test that proclaims to diagnose my "lover profile."  The result?  My focus on my partner is literally higher than only 1% of all test-takers.  Of tens of thousands of test-takers.  And those were the people self-obsessed enough to take such a test.  Meanwhile, my agressiveness and adventurousness are rated above 90%.  Talk about divided results!

That's not to say that it's wrong, mind you.  In fact, that's what's so frightening -- and why these harmless little easy tests are so dangerous.

According to the profile that I fit, I "concentrate more on enjoying the experience rather than worrying about your performance."  Well, no shit.  I mean, how pathetic would it be to worry about my performance?  I realize that other people do, but that's just my first response.

I'm told that I'm "difficult to keep happy once found" because I love variety too much.  Again, no shit.

While I'm told that I get labelled with terms like "player" or "slut," which aren't always right, I'm also told that I "can be a delight in bed" -- if the stars align and I find the right person, as opposed to someone I simply want to use.  Again, bullseye.

But there's just something so harsh about seeing it right up there on the screen.  I don't even have a psychiatrist to put it to me gently, or at least provide a human presence as I face the harsh reality.

Often, the questions are even more disturbing than the results.

On this particular test, a whole slew of questions asked me if I'd been called certain adjectives in the last two years. It's in these moments, when the pattern of answers becomes completely obvious before your eyes, that the true horror hits.

"Accommodating?"  No.  "Selfless?"  No.  "Boring?"  No.  "Predictable?"  No.  "Insensitive?"  Yes.  "Self-absorbed?"  Definitely.  "Driven?"  Yes.  "Controlling."  God, it's just going to continue, isn't it?  "Spontaneous?"  Yes.  "Meek?"  Definitely not.

The next question asks me how I would look at the opportunity to hold a position of great power, and it's clear long before then that I'm completely screwed.

I recently examined the symptoms for sex addiction and found that I fit about 80%.  There were questions that were even more devastating that time around.

One asked if my sexual choices caused problems for others in my life.  Ridiculous, I instinctively thought.  In retrospect, that reaction probably said more about my selfishness than anything else.  A moment later, I suddenly saw a crushing pattern of screaming girlfriends disrupting and threatening my family and friends, going all the way back to high school.

This realization, after having checked off so many questions earlier that I felt like I was some kind of parody of myself, was devastating.

And then I was left there, staring at a computer screen, with only my cigarettes and wine to comfort me.

I may not have had a psychiatrist there to walk me through these realizations, but the truth is that this is the only danger of these online quizzes and lists of symptoms.  What we're ultimately doing, as we peruse the unknown hundreds of thousands of such quizzes online, is looking at ourselves in the mirror.  Narcissus wept.  And we know, if we know the first thing, that we ought not to run from self-knowledge.

That's the real danger of these quizzes.  Yes, some bad ones are doubtlessly out there.  But they're easy enough to detect.  No, the real danger is the danger of holding a mirror up to ourselves, that horrible recognition as we recognize the burried patterns of our lives.

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Other Essays by Julian Darius:
Yellow Sign Series in the Vatican Museum
Feminism was a Response to Dishwashers
Life on Gor (Page 1 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 2 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 3 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 4 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 5 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 6 of 6)
The Danger of Personality Tests
The Party’s Raging but the Messiah Stands Us Up
How to Have Fun with Scrabble
Love the Good Women, Boys, Love the Good Women
Against Gardner
I Need a Secretary
Cast Away Review