The Dark Side of That Personality Quiz You Just Took

7/13/2017 - Associate Professor of Psychology Simine Vazire in The Atlantic.

Clearly, personality quizzes have some sort of perennial appeal. Facebook newsfeeds are filled with BuzzFeed quizzes and other oddball questionnaires that tell you which city you should actually live inwhich ousted Arab Spring ruler you are, and which Hogwarts house you belong in. But these new online quizzes have a dark edge that their analog predecessors didn’t. In the wake of the U.S. election, a secretive data firm hired by Donald Trump’s campaign boasted that it has been using quizzes for years to gather personal information about millions of voters. Its goal: the creation of digital profiles that can predict—and possibly exploit—Americans’ values, anxieties, and political leanings.

Simine Vazire believes that a good personality test rarely tells you anything you don’t already know. As director of the Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab at the University of California, Davis, she studies how people come to understand who they are. “We know a lot just by being in our bodies, by being ourselves,” she says. Tests promising to unveil hidden truths about their takers—tests known as projective in psychology—are mostly bogus.

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

 

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