13 May 2008

Please select only one! Which of the following do you consider wiser: (a) the tigers of wrath, or (b) the horses of instruction.

There are those near and dear to me who love taking personality quizzes. Me, I keep searching for choice (c), which would be does not apply, or maybe sometimes, or yes (or no) but with reservations more or less severe.

I had to take Myers-Briggs today. The results will only be revealed in a long, drawn-out session, as if reality has become a reality television results show. But I've done this before, often enough to know that "Introvert," on which I score about as high as you can go, doesn't necessarily mean shy and withdrawn; it means you are energized by solitude and drained by company, which I basically knew anyway, because being in company is all about being inundated and irradiated with nuance, and that's exhausting. Besides, sometimes people actually disagree with me! You see what I put up with.

So I'm zipping along, being dissatisfied with all the choices, but I tend to pick all the "yes, I prefer facts/the down-to-earth/reality/pre-planning" answers, because although I know I'm going to look like Mr Practical Realist Who Must Follow A Schedule, I also know what they're talking about when they talk about imagination and spontaneity: it's not William Blake enraptured in his garden, it's some way overpaid schmo who is Thinking Outside the Box As Part of the Envisioning Process. In a job long ago and far away, I had been listening to one of these blowholes gassing on about how he was going to save the world with his suggestions on how we should do our jobs which he by the way and you probably have already guessed this knew nothing about, and I finally couldn't stand it anymore and said, "Well, that's a very interesting idea, but it would require having a second [expensive piece of equipment], and right now the company won't even buy us paperclips." (That was literally the case, by the way: we were scrounging on the floor for any that might have fallen onto the carpet.) He looked at me as if he had just noticed a fly buzzing around his salad. "I'm just coming up with ideas," he said. Sweet Jesus on Sunday morning. You know, I'm not even sure I want to put up with William Blake in his garden. I'm already hyperemotional and oversensitive. Give me a midwestern farm gal anyday.

Anyway, I continue zipping along in the test today, and I hit this question:

In reading for pleasure, do you:
(a) enjoy odd or original ways of saying things, or
(b) like writers to say exactly what they mean?

Does this mean something in somebody's world? Form follows function, people: the odd or original way of saying things is the direct result of someone trying to say exactly what he or she means. What does this even mean?

Good thing I had small faith in psychologists to start with. I've been disillusioned enough already.


Susan said...

I feel your confusion, or whatever it is your feeling. There needs to be a "both, depending on my mood and the type of book" option.

I once had to take a test like that for a job. Two of the questions have stuck with me:

True or false:

Never play cards with a stranger.

So playing cards with a stranger means taking risks, but the word 'never' makes it tricky... what are they looking for? Will I not get the job if I choose false?

and, True or False:

I prefer a shower to a bath.

Hmm, quick and efficient or leisurly and relaxed???

Was there a long list of trickily redundant questions like,

Friends would describe me as A. Outgoing or B. Friendly

and then 10 questions later

People perceive me as A. Talkative or B. Agreeable

and so on?

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Hi Susan,
Yes, there was indeed a long list of trickily redundant questions. Sometimes I'd answer one way, sometimes another. I did actually end up getting a sneak preview of my score. I'm pretty much in the middle on everything, which is a function of the test and the context in which I took it, which is an office.
I'm amused by the questions you were asked. I mean, I tend to prefer showers, but they're not quick and efficient. As for playing cards with strangers, I can only remember the rules for solitaire so I pretty much don't play cards with anyone. Occasionally someone tries to teach me the rules for some game and it's about two minutes before my eyes glaze over and my tongue lolls out and I fall over. So my refusal to play cards with strangers is revealing, but I'm not sure it's revealing what they think it's revealing. That's the whole problem I have with semiotics: they seem to think that a signifier means the same thing to everybody. But the thing that signals "I am cool and in charge" to one person signifies "I am a trendoid dork" to another. Yipes. By the way, I saw you added me to your blogroll. I will update mine to include you.

Susan said...

Of course I added you! :)

I work at Educational Testing Service where I write test questions for a living, although not for a psych test. I write for the Test of English as a Foreign language, so our candidates are from all over the world. We have to be very careful in how we word questions since everyone has their own reality, if you know what I mean.

Thanks for adding the link! :)

Civic Center said...

It's almost enough to turn one into a Scientologist. Oh wait, they have replaced the idea of psychologists with "Free Personality Tests!"

vicmarcam said...

Well, the question about reading for pleasure does mean something in my world, though I think I understand your objections.

Your entry prompted me to take one of those free on-line versions of this test. One of the questions asked if I got really involved in Soap Operas. Well, you know the answer to that. I was wondering what it revealed about me.

Anyway, I came out INTJ (introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging), with a very big I (89%). No surprise there. I believe that makes me a Midwestern farm wife who is really good at the math involved in making quilts and doubling recipes.