Use Online Tests To Diagnose Personality Issues

By Jamie McSloy / September 26, 2017
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Your Personality Is In Constant Flux: Diagnose Issues

I’ve been having sleeping issues for the past year. Having finally had one too many instances of “enough is enough” I’m going to seek help for this. But something else helped me to decide that I really had to do something about the issue.

What was that?

A stupid online personality test.

Using Personality Tests For Actual Benefit

I don’t put much stock in online tests. When it comes to self-diagnosis, that’s pretty limited anyway. If I set up a survey that asked, “Are you a moron?” then even a moron isn’t going to identify as such.

IQ tests are ok except they’re easy to cheat online in a best case scenario. (Most IQ tests are easy to cheat full stop, but that’s totally a subject for another day.) Most of the IQ tests you see aren’t really very good at all and they’re designed to make the dopes on your Facebook friends list feel smarter than they are.

Personality tests aren’t so great; there’s MBTI (broadly useful) and the Big 5 (again, broadly useful) but they’re not brilliant for working out anything particularly insightful.

Yet here’s a use for them that has actual benefit.

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My Experience With The Big Five Personality Test

I try out these tests to see if I can find anything useful out about myself (or others.)

From a marketing perspective, anything – from MBTI to astrology – is useful if it helps you cold read an audience and break them down into segments. With a handful of questions, you can get a pretty decent read on your potential customer:

  • “Are you introverted or extroverted?”
  • “Do you prefer to explore the world around you or learn by solving problems in your mind?”
  • “Do your emotions govern your decisions?”
  • “Are you a person that prefers one solution or many solutions?”

Something like that will set you up pretty well on the MBTI thing, and it’ll allow you a crude outline of how to sell to a person.

Anyway, so I use this process on myself. About a year ago, I took a Big 5 Personality test:

This one.

The results were unsurprising, because I’ve done this a lot of times.

Fast Forward

I took the test again last week, and I got a pretty different set of answers, all things considered. A person’s core personality doesn’t change all that much once adulthood sets in. Even if you become more outgoing or you build better habits, you still make decisions in the same way and generally value similar things. What I’m saying is the expression changes a lot but the core cognitive functions stay the same.

This is why a big change is surprising.

Here’s where there’s use in personality tests as a diagnostic tool.

When it comes to mental health, physical performance and the like, changes occur over a long period of time.

Would I say the sleeping issues I’ve had have had a drastic effect on my mood or concentration?

Probably not; because on a short-term basis, I might lose 0.1% of either of those things each day.

Yet over the course of a year, those losses (or gains) add up a lot.

For an example, on the personality I test I took it showed:

  • Less conscientiousness (I usually say I’m going to do something and then do it)
  • Less openness/extroversion (I’m naturally an introvert but the score I got was comically low)
  • Worse problem solving
  • Less confidence
  • Higher agreeableness (as in… less backbone)

… Many other things.

Now, these become obvious when I think about them, but like I say, in the day to day of life, I hadn’t noticed them.

Final Thoughts

There’s no big moral or meaning to this article. (Funnily enough, because I’m exhausted.)

My point I guess is that even something mundane like a personality test can be useful if you use it as a tool for setting a baseline and monitoring change.

You can do this with something like a personality test like I did above, and it’ll give you a snapshot of your personality at a given time, or you can do it with something like an IQ test or even a computer game which will test your reaction speed.

The important point is to observe, monitor and obviously later adapt to improve over time.


  • […] I realised the sleeping issues were a.) An actual issue (see this article on personality tests for diagnosing issues) and b.) Probably not going to go away on their own, I […]

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