How Accurate Are Personality Tests and Horoscopes?

How Accurate Are Personality Tests and Horoscopes?
    Hey there, welcome to Life Noggin.
    You humans love to put yourselves into categories.
    Dog person or cat person.
    Type A or type B. Scorpio or Taurus.
    I’ll admit, even I do this sometimes.
    (I’m a Ravenclaw, Virgo, ENFJ, and I love dogs AND cats, in case you were wondering.)
    People even use these categories to make important life decisions!
    We think of these things like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and other personality tests
    as giving us some sort of explanation of why we are the way we are.
    Because of that we place a ton of weight on them when it comes to decisions like what
    career path to go down or which college to attend.
    We treat them like they’re based on scientific facts.
    But are they really all that meaningful?
    Well for starters, let’s define these terms.
    The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, also known as the MBTI, is a test that supposedly reveals
    four facets of your personality: introversion vs. extraversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking
    vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving.
    It involves a series of questions about your tendencies and preferences, all of which results
    in a set of four letters that are supposed to sum you up as a person.
    Apparently people who are Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging are best suited for
    jobs as school administrators, airline pilots, or dentists, while ESFPs should work as teachers,
    flight attendants, or dental hygienists.
    Seriously.
    Another common personality descriptor that people love to read into is their zodiac sign.
    Your zodiac sign, which is a sign given to you based on how the sun was aligned when
    you were born, is thought by many to determine a lot of your characteristics.
    For instance, a Scorpio (which is someone born between October 23rd and November 21st)
    is supposed to be jealous and stubborn, while a Capricorn (someone born between December
    22nd and January 19th) is responsible and condescending.
    One common thread among these personality tests and horoscopes is something called the
    Barnum Effect, which basically says that people believe that personality descriptions given
    as results of a personality test are highly accurate and suit them specifically, even
    when the same list of traits is actually given to everyone who took the personality test.
    This is because the given traits are what’s known as high base-rate characteristics, meaning
    that they’re true of a large portion of the population.
    Examples of high base-rate characteristics are statements like “sometimes you’re
    too hard on yourself” or “you really want other people to like you.”
    Does that sound just like you?
    Well, it sounds like a lot of people.
    That’s the point.
    So now if you’re thinking “these tests don’t sound very scientific,” well, you’re
    right.
    While the creators of the MBTI test claimed it was based on the work of psychologist C.G.
    Jung, many modern psychologists agree that it’s not really based in legitimate psychology.
    In fact, a group of characteristics known as the Big Five—which are extraversion,
    neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness—are regarded as alternative
    personality descriptors that are actually based on the scientific method.
    It’s believed that the Big Five may actually have some bearing on things like job performance,
    and some scientists have even worked to locate regions of the brain that can be associated
    with individual aspects of the Big Five.
    In their 2010 study, they found that conscientiousness, for example, is significantly correlated with
    the volume of the middle frontal gyrus, a section of the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
    So while the Big Five appear to be legitimate, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and other
    tests that heavily depend on the Barnum Effect seem… fake.
    It’s all fun and good to put yourself in a box and label it with four letters that
    claim to define you as a person, but it’s pretty much meaningless.
    So don’t worry if you don’t know your personality type or if it changes every time
    you take the test—it won’t do you that much good anyway.
    And you're fine the way you are!
    So do you have certain personality type?
    Do you believe in horescopes?
    Let me know in the comment section below.
    Or tell us, what should we talk about next!
    As always, my name is Blocko and this has been Life Noggin.
    Don’t forget to keep on thinking!
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