Family therapists, marriage counselors and personal coaches increasingly recognize that personality assessments can lead clients not only to greater self-insight but also to improved relationships. The tests “can help get to the heart of the problem quickly,” says Richard Levak, a Del Mar, Calif., psychologist, who uses them extensively in his practice. ”Too often psychologists operate on their intuition and clinical knowledge, but people are not often as they appear.”
A test might reveal that someone who appears jovial and self-effacing may actually be insecure and introverted—constantly working to play a role, he says.
Consider what happens when an introvert comes home hoping to chill after a rough day at work—only to find his extrovert partner waiting to recap every moment of her day. The introvert gets angry; the extrovert feels hurt. The therapist or coach tells the extrovert that her spouse needs time alone; she tells the introvert that he needs to make an effort to come out and talk after he has decompressed.
What, exactly, is personality?
John D. Mayer, a psychologist and expert on personality testing at the University of New Hampshire, says it is “the system that organizes one's emotions, motives and capacities to think.” Personalities are partly innate, partly learned, he says; we can change them a bit, but it isn't easy.
Dr. Mayer says the roots of modern personality tests date back to the early 1900s, when French psychologist Alfred Binet created an intelligence test predicting which children had special needs requiring alternative education. Testing spread to the U.S. during World War I, when the military used a type of personality test to assess if recruits were mentally fit for service.
The Myers-Briggs was developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Cook Briggs, who despite little advanced training in psychology, immersed themselves in the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and designed the questionnaire based on Jung's personality types.
When people take personality tests, their self-awareness goes up and they quickly figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness facilitates change.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2011
Self-Awareness is a critical component of Emotional Intelligence