29 July 2011

if a quiz is quizzical, what is a test?

In a none-too-rare moment of procrastination, I took a personality test. Normally, I don’t take these things too seriously. I mean, there are personality tests in magazines like Cosmo. But after suspending disbelief, I started noticing patterns. Namely, to what extent my paranoia dictates the way in which I think.

The medium of the test truly makes a difference. I know I can’t be the only one who, when taking a personality test in a magazine, has peeked at the results then tried to engineer my responses so they align with my perceived ideal. It’s fairly easy to tell which are the “correct” answers. For example, the responses to the question “What do you do when you see a cute guy across the room?” are something along the lines of a) avoid him like the plague, b) make eye contact for a few seconds and smile, or c) take off your top. The person is immediately determined to be cold, “normal,” or kind of skanky.

But taking a test like this online was a completely different experience. First of all, the subject matter was less trivial. Instead of focusing on dating etiquette, or trying to determine what type of man is best for me (nerds or artists. how groundbreaking.), this quiz was about my work ethic and habits. I had to actually stop and think about what my honest response would be.

The method for answering complicated my process as well. There were ten bubbles for each statement, and I would have to rate the statement’s relevance to my personal philosophy on a scale of one to ten. The thing is, some of the statements had multiple clauses, and some were more relevant than others.

Therein began my struggle. How do I compensate for any discrepancies? As a result, there were not many responses on either extreme. Not everything can be distilled as simply as “exactly like me” or “exactly the opposite of me.” Plus, my responses could vary dramatically depending on my state of mind or time of day, but that does mean that my response would be any less true. As I was looking over my responses, I realized just how noncommittal I came across.

Then the paranoia set on. What if my test was being live streamed where someone could tell how long it took for me to respond? Could someone see how many times I changed my answer before I settled on what was as close to the truth as possible? Was that part of the test? If I were to conduct this sort of experiment, I would definitely take these factors into consideration.

Of course, I know that it would be incredibly impractical for someone to carry out what I have just described. I also know that my tendency to overcomplicate things plays a large part in this caffeine-fueled rant. I mean, I sort of know. A part of me still wonders if someone is as dedicated to being a creeper as me.


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