Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Personality tests

Every few months, a conversation about the Meyers-Briggs personality text pops up on social media somewhere.

Now, my dad used to be a consultant in the Human Resources field. He would be brought in to speak to companies, to analyze problems between co-workers/teams, etc at both small and large companies, and things like the 2010 Olympics bid discussions.

Often he would bring home work-related research, including tools like personality tests, and because it was fun, I played along. So, I've taken all the major personality tests, including the MB one. I think I first took the MB one when I was in grade 4 or 5.

They're interesting, but I don't necessarily *believe* in them. To me, they're slightly more scientific than astrology charts, and if you look up your astrological sign, I'm sure there are going to be some aspects where you go, "Amazing! This is just like me!"

...but the thing is, if you read up on the other signs, you're just as likely to find qualities/similarities that also fit you. They're so vague, you can always find something that 'fits' with your self-image.

And personality tests aren't a heck of a lot better.

A big problem is the way questions in personality tests are worded. They're vague, and often you're choosing an answer you really don't necessarily agree with because there's no option to leave it blank.

For example, I thought it would be fun to take the 1st personality test ever:

Galen, who lived in 129-201 AD is thought to have created the first personality test, based on the four humours.

Of course there's no way to get the actual original questions, but to get close, I Googled 'Four Humours Personality Quiz', took 4 different tests, and ended up with these results:

Sanguine, Melancholic, Choleric, and the last one was almost a perfect split between Phlegmatic, Choleric & Melancholic.

And I'm going to use one of the quizzes, this one (because at the end, it tells you which answer you gave falls into which personality category), to illustrate how the wording of a question can/could easily skew the answer.

The options for question #7 under Strengths are:

Planner - One who prefers to work out a detailed arrangement beforehand, for the accomplishment of a project or goal. This person much prefers involvement with the planning stages and the finished product rather than the carrying out of the task.

Patient - One who is unmoved by delay - calm and tolerant.

Positive - Characterized by certainty and assurance.

Promoter - One who can compel others to go along, join, or invest through the sheer charm of his/her own.

And, honestly, I could check every single one of these because, depending on the situation, I could see myself choosing each of these possibilities.

In the case of this quiz, you'll notice each option begins with the same letter... a cute device, but it clearly skews/limits the choices by adhering to this pattern.

On the other end of the spectrum, the options for question #35 under Weaknesses are:

Messy - This person is messy because it isn't fun to discipline him/herself to clean. The mess is hardly noticed. There is another personality that gets messy when depressed, and yet another that is messy because it takes too much energy to do the cleaning. Be sure you are the first one mentioned if you check this word.

Moody - One easily slips into moods. This person doesn't get very high emotionally, but does experience very low lows.

Mumbles - This person may mumble quietly under the breath when pushed. This is a passive display of anger.

Manipulative - One who influences or manages shrewdly or deviously for one's own advantage. One who will find a way to get his/her own way.

And this was a question where I did not want to check any option, as I don't think any of these apply to me. Also, due to ensuring all choices start with the letter 'M', they don't even relate to each other, so it's pretty meaningless to choose between them. If all the options related to the cleanliness of your room, that would be consistent, which would make your answer actually worth something. Comparing apples to peaches gets you nowhere.

While the Meyers-Briggs test is better about comparing apples to apples, there are still many questions on the test where I can potentially see choosing several of the options, depending on the situation, especially since it relies on a sliding scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Seriously, how can you logically separate 'disagree' from 'slightly disagree'?

For example:

You often get so lost in thoughts that you ignore or forget your surroundings.

Well, it thoroughly depends on the situation. Even if I narrow all the possibilities down to a single activity: swimming. Well, it depends if I'm swimming at the lake, if there are boats around, or if I'm at the pool whether I'm sharing a lane, swimming alone, have only a little time or have all day, etc. There are a ton of factors that will ultimately change whether my focus is narrow or wide.

So, while astrology and personality quizzes are interesting, I also don't think they're worth much, other than, possibly, a clever tool to entice someone to do a little bit of self reflection/self-analysis.

But that's not exactly something I need encouragement/enticement for, since I am prone to over-analysis.

Now, HOPEFULLY you're going to get a good laugh at this next part...

The fact that I'm deconstructing personality quizzes into what works, what doesn't, and 'why', is pretty classic for the Meyers-Briggs INTJ personality type, which is what I've 'scored' ever since I took the very first test as a kid. It's also classic for a Virgo, which is my astrological sign, and Earth Sheep from Chinese astrology. In Numerology, my Personality Number is 1 (based off your name), which again, lists qualities like level-headed, analytical, confident, etc.

...but that's just me pulling common elements together. There's an equal portion of 'traits' within these that don't apply at all :)

All-in-all, personality tests are a bit of fun, and an excellent time-waster. Don't ask how long it took me to search out all these different quizzes, take them, etc, because, y'know, I never want to half-ass something, even when it's analyzing something I don't believe in... like personality tests & astrology.

...sigh, yes. INTJ.

Hopefully my dyslexia and high emotional intelligence balance me out a little ;)

So, what do you think of personality tests, numerology, astrology, tarot, etc?

Personally, I'm a little curious if there's any correlation between personality types and genre of writing...? I'm guessing 'No', but it would be a fun poll to waste a little time ;)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Eva at the lake

A couple weeks ago I went up to the cabin for a few days (don't worry, I'm not dumb enough to go swimming quite this early in the season) and, of course, I took Eva and Berkeley with me.

There were a ton of loons on the lake and a few pairs of Canadian geese.

...and one bachelor (bachelorette?) who would swim up near the shore whenever I was outside with the pets.

Now, Eva's pretty good about certain things... if you tell her to 'leave it' (like, a cat, or bird, or rabbit), she's pretty good about obeying. If you tell her to 'get it', she basically goes beagle-crazy and runs at it full-tilt to chase/play with it (since she was a puppy, I've told her to 'get' Berkeley, and vice versa, so the expectation behind the command is about play-wrestling, not about seriously chasing/hurting).

I didn't get a good video of her really going crazy with this solitary goose (this was near the end of her going nuts, so she had calmed down a little), but you can see a little bit of her trying-to-play behaviour here (with the 'play with me!' doggie-bows):

The funniest part is near the end where the goose is trying to bite her through the fence :D

Geese are really aggressive, so I'm not sure if it kept hanging around so much because it was being defiant, or what, but seeing the two of them together was pretty hilarious.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hail from the clan Kavanagh (Caomhánach) on my mother's side*.

Clann Caomhánach - coat of arms

The lion represents courage and protection, the sickles represent abundance, hence the motto: Peace & Plenty.

I'm going to celebrate by going out for dinner with my family tonight, so I'll leave you with an Irish Blessing that I quite like:

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far.

* There's also some question about whether Colquhoun, also on my mother's side, is purely Scottish or whether they originally came from Ireland (some sources say it came from Conachon).  I can't seem to find the coat of arms I'm familiar with online, but it's blue & red with a hart (stag) on it. If I find it, I'll update this post.

And their motto is "Si je puis" which means "If I can".