Personality tests find a new use

Though they are vague, the medical world has found a promising new use for them.

Destanie Martin-Johnson

From Welcome Week to now, personality tests have been a part of some of my class activities. Although a lot of the online-generated quiz results can be pretty vague and easily applied to most people, personality quizzes may actually be helpful for mental health.

The Daily Beast recently reported on a study looking at how trustworthy personality tests are. During the study, four applicants participated in a personality quiz, and their responses were recorded. All of the participants stated that they felt like their results described their personality traits very accurately.

The researcher then told them that their quiz results were all exactly the same. She went on to explain how many personality quizzes give out similar results, just in similarly vague terms that allow the person to feel reassured. This effect is dubbed “the Barnum effect.” This is why no one should take these results too seriously.

However, an article recently published in the New York Times states how similar tests can improve your health. Recently, there has been a considerable amount of research done concerning the use of personality tests to custom-fit a treatment plan for patients. For patients who, according to a personality test, qualify as extroverted, studies have shown that they are far more likely to have genes that promote inflammation — the result of being exposed to higher amounts of pathogens because of their extroversion compared to their introverted counterparts.

While personality tests can largely be expressions of what we already think we know about ourselves, they could actually be useful in the future for helping treat illnesses.