For the last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about personality psychology. It’s a fascinating field, but you have to be careful to separate the gunk from the gold. Stay away from the Myers-Briggs and other commercial personality tests.
The only two models of personality that I think have any real validity to them are the Big 5 Inventory and the HEXACO.
According to the Big 5, your personality can be boiled down to 5 traits:
The HEXACO is more or less the same (see below), except it adds another trait into the mix:
While many people aren’t surprised by their scores, others are; and they gain a degree of self knowledge that’s immensely useful. This is because of the subtle self-deception that plagues us all. We may think that we’re really conscientious or agreeable, but our scores might place us lower on the bell curve than we thought.
I’ve had a couple dozen of my friends take this test, and on more than one occasion I’ve witnessed a mini-epiphany: “Oh, that’s why I have such an easy time negotiating, and am always baffled when Nathan seems to struggle,” or “So that’s why I should never be a product manager.”
I’ve included a link to the most up-to-date version of the HEXACO here: http://hexaco.org/hexaco-online
Here’s a link to a good, short version of the Big 5: http://www.personal.psu.edu/~j5j/IPIP/ipipneo120.htm
Take one of them and let me know what you think. If you’re comfortable, send me over your scores & a note about what surprised you.
Re: The difference between the Big 5 and HEXACO
Wikipedia has a nice breakdown of the difference between the HEXACO and the Big 5:
“Currently, the most widely used model of personality structure is also based on analyses of personality-descriptive adjectives. This model consists of the five personality factors collectively known as the “Big Five”. Three of the Big Five factors are similar to the Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience factors of the HEXACO model. The two remaining Big Five factors, called Agreeableness and Neuroticism (with the opposite pole of the latter factor being Emotional Stability), are similar to the Agreeableness and Emotionality factors of the HEXACO model – but with some differences in the content of the factors. Agreeableness and Emotionality from the HEXACO model represent rotated variants of their Big Five counterparts, for example, characteristics related to a quick temper are associated with Neuroticism or low Emotional Stability in the Big Five framework, but with low Agreeableness in the HEXACO framework. Therefore, the Big Five’s Agreeableness and HEXACO’s Agreeableness are not identical. The Big Five factors do not include an Honesty-Humility factor, but some of the characteristics belonging to Honesty-Humility are incorporated into the Big Five’s Agreeableness factor. Although earlier investigations found only the Big Five factors, more recent studies conducted in various languages (including English) with larger sets of adjectives recovered six factors, as summarized above. The names of four of the HEXACO factors (all except Honesty-Humility and Emotionality) were adopted from existing labels for the Big Five factors. Factor names were selected on the basis of the common meaning of the characteristics within each factor.”