Monday, June 20, 2016

Writing, Personality Analysis, and No Good Very Bad Day

There are days when you feel on top of the world, where everything is going your way.

Today was not one of those days.

After a rough day, I came home to work on some writing. Before settling in, I caught up on recent tweets and found a link to this personality analysis that requires about 3500 words of writing by an individual. I thought it might be fun and make for an interesting blog post about examination of validity. I tried to open one of my writing files to paste it into the website.

And got multiple error messages. I tried every trick I could think of, but couldn't get the file to open.

TL;DR: The file is corrupted. I'm going to try to open it somehow. But for now, that writing appears to be lost. I have some handwritten notes I can draw from, but if I can't get into that file, most of what I've written is gone.

After dealing with that frustration (I'm not going to lie, there were tears), I decided to proceed with the personality analysis, using some previous blog posts.

Here's the summary it gave me:
You are unconventional, excitable and can be perceived as critical.

You are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. And you are proud: you hold yourself in high regard, satisfied with who you are.

Your choices are driven by a desire for connectedness.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.

The fuller analysis is displayed in a dashboard style:

Though there is some truth here, some of the results definitely are not accurate. For one, saying I have trouble sticking to tasks for long periods... I hate to use the PhD card, but um, yeah, PhD - that's basically sticking to a task for a long time. I think the compassion and connectedness information is accurate, but wouldn't anyone self-apply that information? This description sounds kind of like a Barnum description - an analysis of a person that is vague enough to get just about anyone to agree it is accurate. Throw in a couple of negative traits, so it doesn't read so much as "You're awesome" to be suspect, and most people would agree to it.

For comparison, here's the results of a Big 5 personality test I took recently:

Extraversion 72
Extraversion reflects how much you are oriented towards things outside yourself and derive satisfaction from interacting with other people.

Conscientiousness 33
Conscientiousness reflects how careful and orderly an individual is.

Neuroticism 37
Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions.

Agreeableness 91
Agreeableness reflects how much you like and try please others.

Openness 82
Openness reflects how much you seek out new experiences.

So the openness characteristic lines up, but agreeableness is the opposite - a person who tries to please others is likely not critical. It is important to note that the Big 5 results are from a self-administered test, which can be affected by social desirability and biased responding, so it may not be truly accurate. On the other hand, the text analysis is "objective," not depending on my own responses. However, without knowing more about how it is done, I can't speak to its accuracy. But based on my own examination, I would say it's not.

Now to try to get at my corrupted file...

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