Silly & Fun Personality Quizzes
While there are no demographics publicly available for people who typically take fun, silly personality tests online, we were able to find general statistics of personality test takers. We discovered that the average person who takes a personality test online is a white, millennial female who has likely never been married and has at least finished high school, but may have some college or even a bachelor's degree. Many people take fun and silly personality tests to validate what they already believe to be true about themselves and then enjoy sharing the results with their friends for comparison purposes. More details of our research are below.
DEMOGRAPHICS OF PERSONALITY TEST TAKERS
SYNTHETIC APERTURE PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT DEMOGRAPHICS
- Between July 26, 2014 and February 17, 2017, two sets of demographic data were collected from voluntary Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment test takers.
- The personality test was administered to "evaluate the structure of personality constructs in the temperament domain."
- Participants in the data sets completed an "online survey in exchange for feedback about various aspects of their personality."
- No advertisements were placed to attract participants and "web traffic statistics (collected through Google Analytics) suggest that participants who did not come to the website directly were directed to it through links from various other websites about personality, personality research, general psychology topics, and psychometrics."
- There were 54,855 voluntary, unrecruited test takers in the first data set and 48,350 in the second data set.
- The following demographics were observed:
- Female test takers represented 62% of the first data set and 63% of the second data set, suggesting people who normally take personality tests tend to be female.
- People around the age of 20 were the most frequent test takers in both data sets, with the frequency of participants declining with age.
- Most test takers were married, except for those in the age bracket of 15 – 24 years old, who mostly had never been married. In the age bracket of 25 – 34 years old, about half the respondents were married and have had never been married. In the age bracket of 35 – 44, the majority of participants were married.
- Test takers were predominantly white, with African American a distant second.
- The education level of test takers also varied according to age, with the majority of all test takers having some college or an associates degree. The percentage of people with a bachelor's degree increased with age, but still did not overtake the percentage of participants with some college or an associates degree in any age bracket.
- Nearly all test takers outside of the age bracket of 16 – 24 years old were employed in the civilian workforce. More than half the respondents in the 16 — 24-year-old age bracket indicated they were not employed (indicating many were likely students). However, overall, the majority of participants across all age groups were employed.
FISHER TEMPERAMENT INVENTORY DEMOGRAPHICS
- Using the raw demographic data for the Fisher Temperament Inventory personality test, we determined the following demographics:
- There were 4,967 participants, of which 1,429 self-identified as male and 3,415 self-identifed as female. Eight did not respond and 114 self-identified as other. This means that 69% of the respondents were female and 29% were male. This is consistent with other findings that personality test takers are most likely to be female.
- The average age of takers of the Fisher Temperament Inventory was 32 years old, higher than the other data sets we have, but still firmly millennial.
- Of the 4,967 respondents, 3,146 said they had never been married, while 1,221 said they were currently married. Only 581 said they had previously been married, and 18 did not respond. This data contradicts some of the other data found in that 63% of respondents had never been married compared to 25% who were currently married.
- Out of 4,967 respondents, 79 did not respond to the race question, while 471 indicated they were Asian, 33 said they were Arab, 112 said they were Black, three said they were Indigenous Australian, 53 said they were Native American, 3,785 said they were White, and 429 said they were other. As such, the percentage breakdown is 76% White, 9% Asian, 9% other, 2% Black, 1% Native American, and less than 1% each for Arab and Indigenous Australian. This data verifies that the majority of personality test takers are White.
- Of the 4,967 respondents, 39 did not respond to the education question, while 292 indicated they had less than a high school education, 1,237 indicated they completed high school, 1,996 indicated they had a university degree, and 1,401 indicated they had a graduate degree. This is a bit contradictory to the findings from the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment, as the highest percentage of Fisher Temperament Inventory represented those with university degrees at 40%, followed by those with graduate degrees at 28%. Another 25% said they had completed high school and just 6% indicated they had not finished high school. Since the education levels on these tests did not match, we can say that the majority of personality participants have at least some college, with many attaining a bachelor's degree.
- Employment was not measured on the Fisher Temperament Inventory test.
NATURE RELATEDNESS SCALE DEMOGRAPHICS
- Using the raw demographic data for the Nature Relatedness Scale personality test, we determined the following demographics:
- There were 1,522 participants, of which 515 self-identified as male and 933 self-identified as female. Two did not respond and 72 self-identified as other. This means that 61% of the respondents were female and 34% were male. This is consistent with other findings that personality test takers are most likely to be female.
- The average age of takers of the Nature Relatedness Scale personality test was 30 years old. Again, this was higher than the age of the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment test takers, but they are still firmly in the millennial generation.
- Of the 1,522 respondents, 10 did not respond to the marriage question, while 1,098 indicated they had never been married, 287 said they were currently married, and 125 said they had been previously married. This data contradicts that data found in the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment, but confirms the data found in the Fisher Temperament Inventory, with 72% of participants saying they have never been married compared to 19% currently married and 8% previously married.
- Out of the 1,522 respondents, 26 did not respond to the race question, while 168 said they were Asian, six said they were Arab, 27 said they were Black, one said they were Indigenous Australian, 19 said they were Native American, 1,107 said they were White, and 165 said they were other. This data verifies that the majority of personality test takers are White, with 73% of the respondents choosing that option. Meanwhile, 11% identified as Asian, another 11% identified as other, 2% identified as Black, 1% identified as Native American and less than 1% identified as either Arab or Indigenous Australian.
- In terms of education, of the 1,522 respondents, 22 did not respond to the education question, but 151 said they had not graduated high school, 632 said they had a high school education, 439 said they had a university degree, and 275 said they had a graduate degree. This breakdown more aligns with the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment than the Fisher Temperament Inventory, with a 10% having yet to graduate high school, 42% having graduated high school, 29% with a university degree, and 18% having a graduate degree. In all three cases, it appears that the majority of test takers have at least a high school degree, with many of them holding a bachelor's degree.
- Employment was not measured on the Nature Relatedness Scale personalty test.
- In 2017, some definitions put the youngest millennial at age 21, which would have confirmed that the age group most likely to take the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment were young millennials, with older millennials also participating in high numbers.
- Although millennials are typically skeptical of labels, which would seem to contradict their affinity for personality tests, they are also obsessed with self-discovery.
- The millennial generation in general is an "identity-hungry bunch, and there's something irresistible about personality theory because it not only gives legitimacy and context to what makes [them] unique as individuals, it also lets [them] find [their] tribe."
- Moreover, millennials have been raised on instant gratification and personality tests give a "shortcut version of understanding without requiring everyone to study complex psychology to any serious degree."
- Professor Watson with the University of Notre Dame states that Gen-Z and millennials are trying to form an identity and taking online personality tests can be one way for them to explore who they are and what they like.
REASONS WHY PEOPLE TAKE PERSONALITY TESTS
- In general, there are three main reasons why people take personality tests or self evaluations:
- 1. Self assessment (the pursuit of accurate self-knowledge) — people are looking to find information about themselves that is true.
- People take personality tests because despite modern life's sophistication and technology, people generally "remain a mystery to themselves as well as others — and they are always curious to get a bit of insight as to what they’re really like."
- David Walton, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame agrees, as he believes that people like taking quizzes because they can "be a shortcut to finding out who [they] are and what [they] like." Young people in particular are trying to find an identity and learn how they are different from other people.
- Curiosity drives people to take these tests, which are a way for people to answer the ages-old question of "why do people act the way that they do?"
- Vivian Manning-Schaffel, a writer for Better, states she's "never met a personality test or horoscope [she] didn’t like" and the reason why she takes them is because she finds them "fun to hear tidbits of feedback about [her]self that resonate as true."
- 2. Self-enhancement (the pursuit of favorable self-knowledge) — people are looking for positive personality traits.
- For instance, when one person did not receive the results she wanted from an online personality test, she "decided that she would take it over and over again until it gave her the answer she wanted," thus indicating that people are looking for what they perceive as positive personality traits from these quizzes.
- Another quiz taker's experience became a meme when he wasn't sorted into the Harry Potter house in which he thought he belonged.
- According to Pamela Rutledge, "People like confirmation of their qualities, particularly strengths. In spite of the frivolity, we all have an existential craving to be validated and ‘seen.'"
- 3. Self-verification (the pursuit of highly certain self-knowledge) — people are looking to validate what they already know about themselves.
- Psychologists see personality as a paradox in that people know themselves, but they don't really know themselves, which is why quiz takers seek to discover whether their experience of themselves matches what other people experience.
- Rutledge also believes that people like hearing confirmation of the positive aspects of their personality and derive satisfaction from the validation these quizzes give, even if they don't take them all that seriously.
- Professor Walton also provided the validation reason, stating that people get social validation when they share their results that often seem to confirm what they already know about themselves. He said, "We're often living in some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, anyway. So we're looking for information that confirms what we already know."
- Another broad reason why people take personality tests is the phenomenon known as "tribalism," which is a person's natural desire to fit in with people who are like them.
- Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, says that tribalism is hardwired into humans' brains and this need to identify with a group manifests itself in a variety of ways, one of which is through personality test results.
- People often use personality quizzes to find people with similar interests because the tests open up lines of communication that otherwise would not be available.
- For instance, Matt Perpetua, former Buzzfeed director of quizzes believes that quizzes act "as a sort of middleman to communicate to a person who they really are" and can facilitate "a conversation about things that are constantly on people's minds but are not super easy to talk about, because it can get heavy."
- Moreover, as Polish psychotherapist Henry Tajfe found, the need to categorize people, including the self, goes back for generations. He said that people naturally categorize themselves to "strengthen [their] bonds with like-minded people and identify and cast out those who are different."
- When people "find their group," so to speak, they have given themselves the illusion of control, which often seems difficult to attain because people actually control very few aspects of life. Again, though, this is just an illusion since once that tenuous connection is first made through the quiz's results, the brain will automatically adjust how a person sees the world to better fit in with the group.
- Other insights include the following:
- Simine Vazire, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis says of online personality tests, "People feel like those are magic... it harkens back to Freudian ideas of unconscious."
- Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, agrees with Vazire, stating, "People have been eager to understand individual differences throughout history" from the Ancient Greeks like Plato to Hippocrates to Galen.
- Most people say that they take the quizzes just for fun, in the same way they listen to pop music for fun. They are entertaining and can bring people together.
- Most psychologists believe that these online quizzes do not actually measure anything, but agree they are "extremely fun to take."
HOW TEST TAKERS USE THEIR RESULTS
- Typically, people who take the fun, silly personality tests online share their results on social media because it provides social validation from peers.
- In addition, sharing the results can bring test takers closer to others, especially when they learn they have a specific trait in common.
- Online personality tests fill an "inherent need for introspection," which means many testers use the results to examine their personality traits and what they find positive and negative about themselves.
- For instance, Rutledge states that personality tests have the potential for "self-reflection and thinking about how your strengths and preferences are a match for your goals."
- Some test takers use the results to facilitate conversations that may be difficult, such as why they act the way they do or what types of activities they do or do not enjoy.
- For example, one passionate personality test taker often sits down with her family members and has everyone take personality tests, which has become a way that her family "could communicate about the things that were bothering" them.
- Sometimes, the results can be used to provide a superficial presentation of the test taker to others, especially if they only post results that they like.
HOW DO TESTS IMPACT TEST TAKERS AS INDIVIDUALS
- Often, the results of the online personality tests become self-fulfilling prophecies because the results "confirm what we already believe."
- When personality test results are perceived as positive, many times the test taker will begin "carrying that image of themselves around going forward, consciously or not."
- Other test takers may feel constrained by the results as if they are pigeon-holed by their personality type, even though it's been shown that personality can fluctuate from time to time.
- The fun silly personality tests such as those found on Buzzfeed are generally just good for "killing time and having a laugh."
Identifying reasons why people take fun, silly personality tests online, how they use the results of the tests, and whether they share them on social media was fairly straightforward. We used science-based opinions from psychologists, psychotherapists, professors, researchers, and other experts to form a consensus of motivations. There appears to be approximately five main reasons why these tests are popular and interestingly, most test results are self-fulfilling prophecies, as people tend to begin to behave the way their personality tests indicate they should behave. We also found that people do share their results on social media, but usually only if they agree with them.
Finding demographics of people who typically take fun, silly personality tests online was much more challenging. We first searched for formal studies of test-takers through sites such as JSTOR, NCBI, Psychology Today, and more, but all we found were older studies of motivations for taking tests and more recent studies questioning the tests' validity. Demographics of test takers were not mentioned, as it appears that each silly personality test targets a different demographic based on the creator's goal. This was further confirmed by search results that included how to create personality tests that target specific audiences rather than any specific data about who they actually target.
We continued our search through media sources from outlets like NBCNews, Vox, The Atlantic, and others. Again, we found motivations for taking tests, but we generally struck out on demographics. We did find a blog published on Truity that indicated that most personality test takers are millennials, but this was only anecdotal. Still, we included it in our findings, due to the limited availability of information. In our search for demographics, though, we came across the data analysis of a test called the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment. We determined that this is not a "fun, silly" personality test, but it is one that is taken voluntarily and is open to everyone online. As such, we assumed that the same sorts of people who would take the fun, silly personality tests would also be likely to take other types of personality tests. Therefore, we included the demographics for the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment in our findings.
Following this, we discovered the website OpenPsychometrics, which is a repository for personality test data. The responses to various personality tests, including demographic questions, can be downloaded in .cvs format and analyzed. Due to time constraints, we were unable to download all test data or the files with extremely large sample sizes, but we were able to download and transfer the data for two recent tests, the Fisher Temperament Inventory and the Nature Relatedness Scale. Again, as with the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment, these tests are voluntary and open to anyone on the Internet. They are not the exact type of fun and silly personality tests requested, but with the limited information available on those, we decided to use the demographics from these two tests, along with the data from the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment to provide a rough demographic profile of personality test takers in general.
We downloaded the data for the Fisher Temperament Inventory and the Nature Relatedness Scale and transferred the data to shareable Google spreadsheets. Then, using the sort function, we counted the number of responses for each demographic question and calculated the percentages to discover a consistent pattern of the types of people who typically take personality tests online. The following calculations were made using the raw data from the tests:
Fisher Temperament Inventory:
4,967 total participants
Nature Relatedness Scale:
1,522 total participants