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I enjoy exploring personality tests; it’s a guilty pleasure of mine.

For instance, according to 16Personalities, I’m an INTP-A “Assertive Logician” (see results here). Below are my results (somewhat shortened down) from another personality test at Understand Myself as recommended by Jordan B. Peterson, clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. The questionnaire explores how I compare to thousands of other people (who have taken the same test) in terms of:

  • Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness
  • Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness
  • Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness
  • Neuroticism: Withdrawal and Volatility
  • Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect

For those of you who are interested in these types of assessment, here are my results followed by my comments.

1. Agreeableness: Typical

50th percentile (more agreeable than 50 of 100 people)

“People with average levels of agreeableness are somewhat forgiving, accepting, flexible, gentle and patient. They sometimes feel pity for those who are excluded, punished or defeated. However, they are less likely than highly agreeable people to be taken advantage of by disagreeable people or those with criminal or predatory intent. They can be skeptical. They believe in cooperation, but also feel that competition, with its losers and winners, has its valid place. They are less likely to lose arguments (and will not typically avoid discussion) with less agreeable people. They can be quite good at bargaining for themselves, and at negotiating for more recognition or power. They are likely to have somewhat higher salaries and earn more money, in consequence. This may mean they are less likely to suffer from resentment or to harbour invisible anger, although this tendency may be increased, if they are high in neuroticism. In addition, because of their tendency to engage in conflict, when necessary, typically agreeable people are less prone to sacrifice medium- to long-term stability and function for the sake of short-term peace. This can mean that problems that should be solved in the present are often solved, and do not accumulate counterproductively across time.”

My comment: I find the skill of listening to others to be undervalued in our culture and I always strive to become a better listener. Still, I draw the line of personal agreeableness in situations where my personal integrity is at stake.

1A. Compassion: Typical or Average

48th percentile (more compassionate than 48 of 100 people)

“People who are typically compassionate people are reasonably interested in the problems of other people, and other living things. They are somewhat concerned about helping other people avoid negative emotion, but are willing to stand their ground, even when others get upset. They make time and do kind things for others, but balance that with fulfilling their own needs and interests. They have a soft side, but are not pushovers. Other people consider them reasonably sympathetic and nice, and will sometimes turn to them for a listening ear. They can be empathetic and caring. However, they are not primarily other-oriented, so they can negotiate effectively on their own behalf. This helps ensure that they get what they deserve, and shields them from the development of resentment.”

My comment: I’m not a social justice warrior by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel a strong sense of compassion for those who are innocent. Having traveled across social classes, I also know better than to think that living is easy.

1B. Politeness: Typical or Average

52nd percentile (more polite than 52 of 100 people)

“Typically polite people can be deferential to authority, but can also be challenging, when necessary. They are not particularly obedient. They can be respectful, but will also push back if pushed. They are not made uncomfortable by the necessity of standing up to other people. Typically polite people will avoid conflict, reasonably, but are not completely averse to confrontation.”

My comment: I thought I would rank higher on politeness, but being average is a resonable assessment. “Polite disobedience” would probably describe me quite well.

2. Conscientiousness: Moderately Low

35th percentile (less conscientious than 64 of 100 people)

“People moderately low in conscientiousness tend to be relatively free of guilt, shame, self-disgust and self-contempt. Individuals who are moderately low in conscientious are not particularly concerned by failure. They are not judgmental, to themselves or others, and tend towards situational explanations for disappointment, frustration or lack of success. They can handle periods of inactivity and unemployment with relative ease. They tend to downplay the relationship between hard work, diligence and success, believing that chance factors and luck in life play a determining role. They live, in large part, for leisure and very much look forward to time off. They can be good at relaxing, and living in the moment (particularly when low in neuroticism). They are less concerned than average with cleaning, moral purity and achievement. It’s more fun to be at the beach or at a party with a person moderately low in conscientiousness – but you might not want to invite them over on moving day.”

My comment: Well, I actively gravitated towards a freelance career for a reason. I dislike having duties as much as I like to decide for myself on what to do and what not to do. Still, I should work on this aspect of my personality a bit.

2A. Industriousness: Moderately Low

38th percentile (less industrious than 61 of 100 people)

“People moderately low in industriousness are not judgmental to themselves or others. They tend to let people, including themselves, off the hook. They are less likely to believe that people fail because they don’t apply themselves or work hard, assuming that chance and luck play the determining roles. They are not prone to guilt, self-disgust or self-contempt, and have a laissez-faire, whatever-will-be-will-be attitude toward life.”

My comment: Well, I’m certainly not the martyr type. And, I do have a problem with procrastination combined with doing my best work when there’s a deadline. This personality trait is actually something I’ve been working on improving for more than two decades.

2B. Orderliness: Moderately Low

36th percentile (less orderly than 63 of 100 people)

People moderately low in orderliness are neither disturbed nor disgusted by mess and chaos. They tend simply not to notice such things. They see the world in shades of grey, rather than black and white, and are non-judgmental in their attitudes toward themselves and others. They are not oriented toward detail and take neither rules nor procedures too seriously. People who are moderately low in orderliness care less than average for routine and predictability. Their schedules are loose and disruption doesn’t bother them. They require almost constant reminder and supervision to maintain attention and focus, and are easily distracted. They can, however, tolerate the mess, disruption and intervening periods of chaos that may accompany creative endeavour.”

My comment: I agree with this assessment, however, I’m not sure that this is something that I’m interested in adjusting. First you change the big picture and then you sort out the details. I do keep my home systematically ordered, but I’m not particularly concerned with the chaos that comes with having kids. I find this balance to be working well.

3. Extraversion: Typical or Average

43rd percentile (more extraverted than 43 of 100 people)

“People with average levels of extraversion are not overly enthusiastic, talkative, assertive in social situations, or gregarious. They enjoy social contact, but are also happy spending time alone. They will plan parties occasionally, and make people laugh, but are often willing to let others take the lead in organizing social situations and entertaining. They have a balanced view of the past and the future, neither over-emphasizing nor dismissing the positive. People with average levels of extraversion strike a good balance between privacy and self-disclosure. They can keep quiet, when necessary, and are unlikely to blurt out information that might be better kept to themselves. They will express their viewpoint in meetings, but are typically not the first to do so. At times, they can be captivating and convincing, but are not so on a habitual basis. People with average levels of extraversion can fit well into a range of jobs. They are sociable enough to engage in jobs involving sales, persuasion, work in groups and public speaking (particularly if they are low in neuroticism), although they may sometimes find the continual public exposure fatiguing.”

My comment: I was quite surprised by ranking in on average here. I’ve always thought of myself as quite the extrem introvert. I do express myself in meetings or at stage, but these aren’t necessarily extrovert behaviours. The explanation for this assessment might be found below; I rank very low for the first aspect of this trait while high on the second.

3A. Enthusiasm: Very Low

6th percentile (less enthusiastic than 93 of 100 people)

“Individuals who are very low in enthusiasm are quiet and un-excitable. They can be very hard to get to know, as they are not at all chatty or bubbly. When they do talk – and they do so comparatively rarely – it tends to be about things in which they find exceptional interest. They laugh very much less frequently than others. They typically prefer solitude and find it difficult to enjoy themselves around other people. At most, they can handle social contact in small doses. They are private people, on the loner side of the distribution, and tend not to be positive or optimistic. They very rarely seek out stimulation, excitement, activity or fun (and, if they do so, much prefer quieter activities). People very low in enthusiasm are solitary, finding it uncommonly difficult to generate a felt sense of excitement when offered the opportunity to engage in something that others might find engaging or entertaining.”

My notes: My best guess is that I’m generally unimpressed by most things. And, I definitely love being alone (or even isolated for long periods of time). However, people around me are more likely to describe me as “overly serious” rather than “somewhat grumpy”. I really should make a point of being more excited about the more mundane aspects of life.

3B. Assertiveness: High

88th percentile (more assertive than 88 of 100 people)

“Highly assertive people are “take charge” types. They put their own opinions forward strongly, and tend to dominate and control social situations. Assertive people can be influential and captivating. They have the communication style that is often associated with leadership. This is good when they are knowledgeable, competent and able, but not so good when they aren’t. Assertive people are people of action. They don’t generally wait for others to lead the way. They can be more impulsive than average, and can act without thinking.”

My comment: I confess to having a somewhat grandios sense of what specific road I want to travel at any given moment. And roads less traveled don’t scare me — even when they should. This specific brand of impulsiveness and stubbornness has gotten myself into trouble more than once. I really need to work on this trait.

4. Neuroticism: Low

14th percentile (lower in neuroticism than 85 of 100 people)

“When good things happen to them, people with low levels of neuroticism can accept it, without questioning whether or not they deserved it. They are usually satisfied with their relationships and careers. Overall, they are tolerant of stress, and can accept failure and setbacks as part of life. People with low levels of neuroticism can handle risk substantively better, without becoming unduly concerned. They are rarely concerned with security, and can more easily handle recreational, career, financial and social situations where the possibility of loss is higher. They find considering as well as implementing career changes and other transformations that could enhance their lives much less stressful.”

My comment: I can see how this gets me into trouble every now and then. Combined with high assertiveness, might not be as worried about events or decisions worthy of of legitimate concern. I tend to overestimate what I can do in a day and underestimate what I can do in a decade.

4A. Withdrawal: Typical or Average

41st percentile (higher in withdrawal than 41 of 100 people)

“People with average levels of withdrawal sometimes feel sad, lonesome, disappointed and grief-stricken, but not too deeply, and not for too long. They experience normal levels of doubt and worry, embarrassment, self-consciousness and discouragement in the face of threat and punishment. They are reasonably but not excessively sensitive to social rejection, and don’t feel hurt too easily. Even when hurt, frightened, or anxious, they can recover in a reasonable amount of time. People with typical levels of withdrawal are not particularly concerned that something bad is going to happen.”

My comment: I do think that I’m average when it comes to feeling blue. I worry, but not too much. My ego can get bruised in interactions with others, but I recover quickly.

4B. Volatility: Very Low

4th percentile (less volatile than 95 of 100 people)

“Individuals very low in volatility are highly stable and predictable in their moods. They are almost never irritable, and feel very little disappointment, frustration, pain and loneliness. People find them easy to be with and can very frequently relax around them. They almost never express their frustration, disappointment and irritability and appear very reasonable when they do so. Even on those infrequent occasions where they become stirred up, upset, angry or irritated, they calm down very quickly. They are not at all argumentative and very rarely loose their composure.”

My comment: Agreed. You’re not very likely to break my composure — not even if you resort to physical violence. I do experience emotions strongly, but I’m at the same time in full control of whether or not I will choose to put my inner life on display or not.

5. Openness to Experience: Exceptionally High

96th percentile (higher in openness to experience than 96 of 100 people)

“People with exceptionally high levels of openness to experience are almost always characterized by others as extremely smart, creative, exploratory, intelligent and visionary. They are extremely interested in learning, and are constantly acquiring new abilities and skills. They are extremely curious and exploratory. They are exceptionally interested in abstract thinking, philosophy, and the meaning of belief systems and ideologies. They are very likely to enjoy writing (or even to be driven to write). They enjoy complex, abstract ideas and deeply love to confront and solve complex, abstract and multi-dimensional problems. They are almost always prolific readers, and are interested in a vast range of topics. They have an exceptionally broad and deep vocabulary. They can think and learn remarkably quickly. They are unusually proficient at formulating new ideas, and can be exceptionally articulate (particularly if average or above in extraversion). People exceptionally high in openness can see old things in remarkable ways. They can formulate any single problem in an exceptionally diverse range of ways, and can generate a tremendously large number of problem-solving solutions. They will constantly seek change, often to make things better, but also just for the sake of change.”

My notes: Change is fun, check. Writing, check. Philosophy, check. Always learning and exploring, check. And yes, I’m proud of accepting myself as a creative individual.

5A. Intellect: Very High

92nd percentile (higher in openness than 95 of 100 people)

“People very high in intellect are notably interested in ideas and abstract concepts. They crave exposure to novel information, even when it is complex. They are highly curious and exploratory, and actively want to find, tackle and solve challenging problems. They will much more frequently seek out and initiate issue-oriented discussions, and are very likely to read, think about and want to discuss idea-centered books (generally non-fiction). They are markedly articulate, and can formulate ideas clearly and quickly (particularly if average or higher in extraversion). They have a broad and wide vocabulary, and continually want to learn new things. People very high in intellect will constantly find and generate novel, creative concepts and voluntarily search for and adapt very well to new experience and situations.”

My notes: This is not a specific IQ test, but rather an assessment of interest in abstract ideas and complex problem-solving. Given that I’m hired to help with ever-changing complexities, it certainly helps that I’m highly interested in (and strongly attracted to) challenges and problems that are generally perceived as difficult.

5B. Openness: Very High

95th percentile (higher in openness than 95 of 100 people)

“The closest synonym for openness (rather than openness to experience, which encompasses openness and intellect) is creativity. Very open, creative people love beauty. They require an outlet for their creative ability, or they cannot thrive. They need to be surrounded by art or beautiful crafts. They are strikingly sensitive to color and architectural form. They very much like to collect things, now and then to the point of obsession. They are very imaginative, and love to daydream and reflect on things. They are uncommonly affected by music, often of many genres, and may be musical or artistic themselves (both of these are rare in the general population). They can get unusually immersed in a book, or a movie, or in their own thoughts, and become oblivious to the outside world. They respond very strongly to beauty, creativity and art.”

My notes: My fascination for beauty is extremely prominent in my daily life. To me, all forms of beauty serves as visceral reminders that life’s not just some sort of darwinian, utilitarian, or tayloristic output system. If math is the universal language of the universe, beauty is its prime expression.

Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash.