I’m an Introvert Who Likes New Ideas

Maggie Koerth-Baker says personality tests are all junk science except for one: the Big Five test. Fine. So I took it. Would you like to know how I came out? Of course you would! But let’s put it into chart form, shall we?

My comments:

  • Conscientiousness. I’m not sure I’m quite that conscientious. But, yeah, I tend to be a pretty focused and reliable kind of guy.
  • Openness to experience. I’ve always wondered what this really meant, and now I know. According to the writeup, it’s a mishmash of openness to experience and openness to ideas. I’m a person of settled habits who’s not all that open to new experiences, but I am open to new ideas. I love new ideas. This averages out to an above-average score, but it still seems to me that we’re using the same label for two different things here.
  • Neuroticism. Yeah, I have mood swings and tend to focus more on negative emotions than positive ones. On the other hand, I mostly stay calm and I bounce back from setbacks relatively quickly. So that all averages out and I end up…about average on this metric.
  • Agreeableness. I think I probably scored higher than I should have here. Sure, I’m generally polite, but I’m not especially well-liked or sociable. Then again, it’s not like I’m a monster or anything. This score probably isn’t way off. Maybe by 5-10 points at a guess.
  • Extroversion. I dunno. If I were guessing, I’d say I should have scored lower. Then again, I’m not a hermit and I don’t go to pieces around new people. I’d just prefer that they all go away.¹ I actually have my own score for this, in fact. I’ve discovered that I’m OK in groups of five or less. Six can go either way, though it’s fine if it’s people I know. Above that I tend to go pretty quiet. These are exact numbers, by the way, not estimates. The tipping point is six. Always six.

I would judge a personality by the extreme traits, not the ones that are just average. In my case, it means I’m introverted, conscientious, and open to new ideas. All in all, I’d say that sounds about right.

¹Oddly, I quite enjoy meeting up with readers when they happen to be in town. I suppose that fits, since this always falls well under the six-person rule. On the other hand, after I’ve met someone I tend not to stay in touch very well.


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