360° Coverage : The Reason Personality Tests Go Viral Will Blow Your Mind

2 Updates
The Reason Personality Tests Go Viral Will Blow Your Mind

The Reason Personality Tests Go Viral Will Blow Your Mind

Jan 19 2014, 3:07am CST | by

Please tell me the web personality quiz is NOT making a comeback. Maybe the popularity of these quizzes never even declined. After rolling my eyes many many times this week, I eventually caved in. I...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

36 weeks ago

The Reason Personality Tests Go Viral Will Blow Your Mind

Jan 19 2014, 3:07am CST | by

Please tell me the web personality quiz is NOT making a comeback. Maybe the popularity of these quizzes never even declined.

After rolling my eyes many many times this week, I eventually caved in. I finally took BuzzFeed’s “What City Should You Actually Live In?quiz. In case you’re wondering, I belong in Paris. Without even a hint of irony, I had clicked through their “Which Muppet Are You?” quiz a few days ago. Bunsen Honeydew (I love anything Muppet). Because Facebook was overrun with Zimbio’s “Which Star Wars Character Are You?.” I just caved and took the quiz while writing this post.

Apparently, I’m Darth Vader.

Yes. There’s some truth to that. I feel the temptation to be seduced by the dark side of the force whenever I see these stupid quizzes.

Quizzes like this are a magazine standard. I Googled “most popular magazine quizzes”:

  • Are you a good kisser? (Seventeen)

  • How millennial are you? (Time)

  • What’s his intimacy IQ? (Cosmopolitan)

  • What does your favorite snack food say about your personality? (Ladies Home Journal)

What is it about these quizzes, I wondered, that attracts us? Surely, nobody believes in the outcomes. It is just entertainment. So why do these quizzes amuse us?

I’ll admit that when I clicked through the choices on “Which Muppet Are you?”, I secretly hoped I’d get Animal or Dr. Teeth. I’d have settled for Kermit or Gonzo. I was checking to see how well my preference measured up to the results.

But why? I know these quizzes are based on nothing. I know there’s not even a kernel of truth in the result. No methodology is listed. The authors credentials are nowhere to be found. And how does one even earn the qualifications necessary to undertake an assessment of “Muppet-ness?”

The entire thing is absurd.

You’d probably say I’m overthinking it. You might believe that people take these quizes just for fun. But frankly, I find it bizarre that any of us want to be analyzed by simple algorithms that divide and reduce us into a limited number of categories. Where does this desire come from?

Essentially, entertainment quizzes are diluted novelty versions of the psychological personality tests that gained popularity in the 1920s. The Rorschach Inkblot test was introduced in 1921, the same year Carl Gustav Jung wrote his famous book Psychological Types.

Carl Jung’s character typology laid the foundation for the popular Isabella Myers-Briggs’ test, developed in 1923. In Jung’s book, he named psychic functions: feeling, thinking, sensation, and intuition. And attitudes: introverted and extroverted. According to Jung, we all have a little bit of everything, but in each individual certain functions and attitudes are more dominant than others.

Despite Jung’s original intentions, the Myers-Briggs test has, ironically, become most popular as a method for evaluating your professional aptitude and choosing strategies best suited for getting yourself ahead in the world. Jung’s theories, however, primarily aimed to help us identify a common psychic imbalance that was, in the Western World, disproportionately tilted toward a heroic, competitive, success-driven mindset. Paradoxically, his project was always to help us move away from the deterministic, definition-driven, certainty that’s implicit in any typology’s dependence on categorization.

Jung’s theories, like other typologies before and after, eventually led to a thriving industry which sells the professional personality test, used mostly to assess whether or not an applicant has the appropriate psychological disposition for a particular job.

As to be expected, the general opinion in the industrial age was that we had the achieved a heretofore unmatched level of scientific progress that guaranteed efficiency, accuracy, and precision. Never mind that these tests are hardly different from the typological categorization that was already popular in the ancient world. Hippocrates described four basic human temperaments, called “humors.” Plato divided us into philosophers, guardians, artisans, and scientists.

In 1935, Leopold Szondi created a non-verbal personality test called the “Szondi Test.” His was based on Freud’s drive theory. But by the late 1950s he may have been disillusioned with psychometrics. He said, “in the last decades, the specifically psychological thinking has been almost completely suppressed and removed, and replaced by a statistical thinking. Precisely here we see the cancer of testology and testomania of today.”

Testomania is right. Consumers love personality quizzes. At the time of this writing, Buzzfeed’s “What City” test had already been viewed over 14 Million times in 2 days. Google reports 135,000 monthly queries for “Myers-Briggs” and 301,000 monthly queries for “personality test.”

Apparently, we enjoy being categorized.

Still, I’m confused.

Simultaneously, my Facebook feed is saturated in personality quizzes and also links to snarky opinion posts about Google’s $3.2 Billion acquisition of Nest. At first these two things seem unrelated, but on closer inspection an inherent contradiction is revealed.

What scares us about Google (and the NSA, for that matter) is the big-brother-like way a connected world–an internet of things–uses algorithms to file us into categories that allow targeted advertising, profiling, and surveillance.

Why is it that when it comes to novelty quizzes we enjoy being analyzed by simple algorithms that divide and reduce us into a limited number of determinate categories, but when it comes to Google and the NSA we’re terrified of the same thing? My theory is that it is a collective manifestation of a psychological function that Sigmund Freud called “displacement.”

Displacement, according to Freud, is an unconscious process through which the psyche transfers energy, ideas, and emotions away from things that cause anxiety, and toward similar things that are superficial, whimsical, and distracting.

In this case, rather than focusing on the algorithmic targeting and surveillance that has become so ordinary in our everyday lives, we distract ourselves by focusing on meaningless algorithmic categorization.

What’s more, because these novelty quizzes are so obviously inaccurate, they don’t scare us. Heck, they don’t even challenge us to be introspective.

We brush them off as “merely entertainment,” forgetting that by participating–through the act clicking–we’ve once again provided Google with a plethora of personality data that is forever stored in our file.

Jordan Shapiro is author of  FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss. For information on his upcoming books and events click here.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
2

4 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the workforce of 20,000 by 30 per ce ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

4 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH3 ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Russell Crowe drives his real-life gladiators to brink of glory
Canberra, Oct 1 (IANS) Russell Crowe is one of Hollywood's biggest stars but his role this weekend as owner of Australian rugby league team South Sydney might be the most nerve-wracking of his career.
 
 
42 confirmed, suspected Ebola deaths in Congo
Kinshasa, Oct 1 (IANS) A total 42 people have died in confirmed or suspected Ebola infection cases in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Minister of Public Health Felix Kabange said Wednesday.
 
 
Australia to readjust budget to counter terrorism
Sydney, Oct 1 (IANS/EFE) The Australian government confirmed Wednesday that there will be budget cuts to finance new anti-terrorism measures.
 
 
New material promises 'perfect' solar absorption
New York, Oct 1 (IANS) Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a material that comes very close to being "ideal" for solar absorption.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Pick the perfect coat for autumn-winter 2014
London, Oct 1 (IANS) Cold weather is descending upon us and it's time to pick the best piece from various options available in the market. From military inspired styles to aviator ones, one can try many trends, but the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Russell Crowe drives his real-life gladiators to brink of glory
Canberra, Oct 1 (IANS) Russell Crowe is one of Hollywood's biggest stars but his role this weekend as owner of Australian rugby league team South Sydney might be the most nerve-wracking of his career. The South Sydney...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Annu Rani clinches women's javelin throw bronze
Incheon, Oct 1 (IANS) India's Annu Rani surprised the field by clinching the bronze in women's javelin throw final at the 17th Asian Games here Wednesday. China's Zhang Li took the gold, setting a new Games Record...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Germany increases aid for Syrian, Iraqi refugees
Berlin, Oct 1 (IANS) Germany has added 10 million euros (about $12.6 million) to its humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria, Iraq and their neighbouring countries in the region, the foreign ministry announced...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey to star in Boss Baby
Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey will star in 'Boss Baby'. The 'American Beauty' actor and Baldwin, 56, will lend their voices to the latest DreamWorks animation which will be helmed by 'Madagascar' co-director Tom McGrath...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Twilight franchise to return with short films
The 'Twilight' franchise is to return in the form of five short films that will be broadcast exclusively on Facebook. It's been revealed five female directors will be selected to make their own short film based on the...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
First trailer for Tak3n is released
The first trailer has been released for the eagerly-awaited third film in the 'Taken' franchise. The new teaser to the movie - which has seen its title updated to 'Tak3n' - stars Hollywood legends Liam Neeson, 62, and...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Warwick Davis: James Bond is outdated
Warwick Davis wants to be the next James Bond because he thinks the movies are ''outdated''. The 44-year-old actor - who is three-and-a-half feet tall - would love to do away with the stereotypes associated with the...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
X-Men: Apocalypse will conclude First Class storylines
'X-Men: Apocalypse' will be the last part of a trilogy that began with 'First Class', according to writer-producer Simon Kinberg. The 41-year-old explained that the third installment in the series will conclude the...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Jason Sudeikis named among all-star voice cast for 'Angry Birds'
Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride have all been named in the all-star voice cast for 'Angry Birds'. The much-anticipated feature film of the popular game series will also include the likes of Bill Hader, who...
Read more on Movie Balla