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Top 5 Most Useful Personality Tests

Ryan is a Licensed Therapist with a deep personal and professional interest in personality and growth.

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Knowing yourself is a common and important theme throughout history. Self-understanding forms the basis for how we engage with the world, interact with others, meet our needs, and pursue our desires. In modern times, personality tests have come along as an aide to this goal. Among the hundreds of personality tests available, these are my top five most helpful models to apply to life.

Each model comes with a corresponding test to find your type. While the tests are certainly helpful, they are not always on the mark, so greater understanding typically comes from spending some time with the model and honing in on what you believe your type to be. After some time, that will usually align with the test results.

StrengthsFinder

StrengthsFinder is a tool that measures and ranks a person’s natural talents or strengths. According to the model, there are 34 unique strengths and each person has a unique combination and ranking of each. Every strength resides within one of four primary categories: Strategic Thinking, Executing, Influencing, and Relationship Building. After taking the test, you may obtain either your top 5 strengths or the full 34 strengths report.

The gem of this model is the insight to focus your energy and attention on building on your natural talents instead of constantly attempting to shore up your weaknesses.

Ease of Use:

Moderate

Best For (In order):

work settings, personal insight, relationships

Strengths:

  • Unique among personality tests
  • Positive focus
  • Great for personal and career development
  • Good fit for workplaces
  • Honors uniqueness of individuals – The possible combinations of 34 strengths are astronomical, so there is plenty of room for personal uniqueness
  • Reports provide applicable insights

Weaknesses:

  • The model can be a little more broad than deep
  • Barriers to Entry – it is a paid report and takes some initial learning to appreciate the model

DISC

The DISC Assessment describes four primary behavioral or work styles – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The test provides the taker with their type among those four, and the best tests can also provide a subtype (eg. SC, DI, CD). Each type has a unique set of priorities, desires, and preferred ways of interacting with the world.

The DISC is particularly useful in workplaces because it is simple enough to build a common language around and can go deep enough to provide applicable insights. It is a great tool for learning to collaborate with different types of people.

Ease of Use:

Easy to Moderate

Best For (In order):

work settings, personal insight, relationships

Strengths:

  • Excellent for workplaces
  • Easy and simple to understand
  • Provides enough depth for application in relationships
  • Great tool for learning to collaborate with others

Weaknesses:

  • Don’t expect it to understand and articulate your deepest fears or desires – it wasn’t built for that

Enneagram

The Enneagram is what might be called a personality system. According to the model, there are 9 basic personality types (numbered 1-9). Each type is characterized by a unique set of traits, basic fears/desires, motivations, and behavioral patterns. Beyond the nine types, each person may have a “wing” (eg. 4w5) which means they can borrow some traits from one of the adjacent numbers. The theory also further describes the instinctive centers, levels of development for each type, and movement during times of stress (or disintegration) vs. times of growth (or integration).

The Enneagram is unique among personality tests for its complete integration of all elements of the model and for its depth. The well runs deep with the Enneagram and one can continue to learn about and from it for many years.

Ease of Use:

Moderate to Difficult

Best For (In order):

personal insight, relationships, work settings

Strengths:

  • Those who like it LOVE it, so there is a sort of community of enneagram people
  • Useful at each level – the basic type provides many insights that deepen with each level of the model
  • Excellent for personal insight and understanding personal relationships
  • Applicable to daily life
  • Helpful to understand and select career paths
  • Overall unity and integration of the model

Weaknesses:

  • Barrier to Entry – It is unlike most other personality models and can take some time to understand how it works

Myers-Briggs

Most people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and similar assessments. This model measures people on four dichotomous axes and assigns one of sixteen possible 4-letter combinations as their type (eg. ESFP, INTJ). Each type maps to a profile of personality characteristics and patterns. The sixteen letter combinations group into four primary categories. These categories are described differently in different models. My favorite is the Keirsey model in which they are called Artisans, Guardians, Idealists, and Rationals.

The four dichotomous axes are Extraversion vs. Introversion (E-I), Sensing vs. Intuition (S-N), Thinking vs. Feeling (T-F), and Judging vs. Perceiving (J-P). In order, those four axes indicate preferences for which world a person focuses on, how they intake and interpret information, how they make decisions, and how they structure their engagement with the world.

Ease of Use:

Moderate

Best For (In order):

personal insight, relationships, work settings

Strengths:

  • Very helpful for beginning to think deeper about broad categories of people’s characteristics
  • Helpful for personal insight and growth
  • Good for understand behavior and desires in relationships
  • Some use in workplaces with a good facilitator – especially for teams

Weaknesses:

  • Several similar models that don’t always share a common language set
  • Less immediate applicability than the other models on this list

Five Love Languages

The Five Love Languages is a very simple assessment that simply shows a person’s preferences for how to give and receive love. It is very different from the others on this list, but I include it because the simple insights from the test can be immensely helpful in marriages and other personal relationships.

According to the model, the five love languages are acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch. The test provides you with both your primary and secondary love language.

Ease of Use:

Easy

Best For (In order):

Relationships, personal insight

Strengths:

  • Very simple
  • Immediate applicability
  • Great for marriages and friendships
  • Builds a new mental category that most people are not accustomed to

Weaknesses:

  • Limited focus

StrengthsFinder - Themes

DISC - Styles

Enneagram - How The System Works

Myers-Briggs - Temperaments

Love Languages - Overview

Comments

Blake Flannery from United States on July 10, 2021:

Don't forget those personality tests that determine which Disney princess you are most like. Those are good for testing certain traits that aren't included in the other personality tests.

For example, you can find out if you are the type of person to take a Disney princess test seriously.

In case you're one of those people and you're wondering, Belle is the best.

Mark Richardson from Utah on July 09, 2021:

Great article and topic! I love personality tests and understanding myself.

Strengths Finder-I bought the book. Unfortunately, it was used, so the code was no good. However, I have a good idea of my strengths.

DISC-I'm a high I, with S in second place. However, under pressure, my D goes WAY up.

Enneagram-6. I can't fathom understanding the others.

MBTI=ENFP. I live this one because it is the most accurate for me and I think it's simple. It has helped me a lot in figuring out how to work with difficult people. I have terrible with J's.

Love Language-this is a good one for relationships. I know mine and my wife is very different. But it has helped me to love and know how I want to be loved.

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