Without question each of us are unique individuals with our own ways of thinking and behaving. Our experiences shape us. From the time that we are born our brain is seeking out information to help us make sense of life and those experiences shape our personality. Genetics and social experiences add to the development of who we are.
Personality has been studied since the inception of psychology as a discipline. German Psychologist, Whilem Wundt, also known as the father of psychology, was the first to suggest that personality is different from the human body. His work suggested that the human personality is made up of four temperaments. The four temperaments suggested by Wundt are: Sanguine (extroverted), Choleric/Yellow Bile (unemotional), Melancholic / Black Bile (introverted) and Phlegm (people orientated). Ironically all cases were linked to symptoms of physical health. Too much of one these physical aliments were thought to produce either certain characteristics.
Even though some core traits can be traced back to Wundt, psychology has come a long way from using bile as a method to predict personality. Human performance factors and selection tests are often used by employers to screen qualified applicants whose personality traits are indicative of success. Selection tests were initially used by the US Military to determine which recruits may be prone to “shellshock” syndrome, which is now called PTSD.
How can personality testing benefit the average person? Self-discovery. Self-discovery is a continuous process that starts with knowing yourself. Taking a true personality self-assessment not a “Quiz on Facebook” and using those results can have significant positive implications for our personal growth.
For instance, taking a personality test might just provide valuable feedback on how you behave socially. Understanding how you see the world can be the starting point on helping you determine the types of people you do best with. Knowing the types of people, you do best with can improve your relationships both professionally and personally. Alternatively, knowing what types of people you do not do well with can give you an edge on how to effectively handle these situations.
As I stated earlier, personality testing has historically (and currently) been used in candidate selection and recruiting. You too can use this type of testing to guide career choices. Knowing how your personality may help or hinder your career choices can save you a lot of headaches in the future. The Strong Personality Inventory is a well validated test that can help you assess your career interest.
Personality tests are also wonderful ways to find out more about our own inherent strengths and weakness. With that said, in my own search I came across the Enneagram. The Enneagram suggests that there are 9 dominate personalities with some overlap. Each personality is also broken into triads of Thinking, Feeling, and Instinctive. For example, when I took this test I was a 9 with a 1 wing. This suggests that I am a “Peacemaker” with a tendency to put the needs of others. In my own discovery, a self-care course correction is greatly needed.
Personality testing and self-assessment can provide insight into how we think and behave. Uncovering strengths and weaknesses is a part of the process. As we move into the second quarter of 2018, how will you use your self-assessment top plot your course correction?
By Dr. Priscilla Wright, Ph.D.,LPC,NCC
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