“In much the same spirit…”

When I was about 20 I had my first psychometric test.

I was going for a job. I can’t remember what job or where. I was 20, I wouldn’t have wanted whatever it was anyway. I have however always been interested in psychology, and I do vividly remember being excited about the prospect of taking a psychometric test as part of the interview process even though it was – well, a while ago.

I hadn’t studied psychology then but as far as I can tell now, it must have been a test based on the 16PF personality factors scale developed by Cattell, Tatsuoka and Eber. It’s designed to ascertain the respondent’s position on a series of opposing traits, such as shy/bold, open/reserved, self-reliant/group-oriented, etc. It’s very difficult to game the result because many questions test the same factors in different ways. Respondents are given a series of statements (“I take control of things”, “I like to stand during the national anthem”) with a Likert scale response. They’re told to go quickly and answer instinctively.

We were given the answers as text, a few short paragraphs that apparently summed up our whole personality. I read that I was liable to act impulsively, with utter conviction in my own judgement, without any regard for the outcome of my actions. There were other things, but that was the part I was most proud of.

I did not get a second interview.

I have this theory. I work in a vaguely project management-related field and I apply this theory in and out of work, and my theory is this. If something – a project, for example – starts to go south, you should take action as soon as possible. If you do nothing, the project will continue going wrong. If you do something, anything, there’s a 50% chance that it will get worse, but there’s a 50% chance that it will get better. If it does get worse, at least it’s given you a pointer as to the right direction. I believe that what my 16PF said was exactly that. I wouldn’t have hired twenty year old me reading that either. But at least twenty-twenty-six year old me has some life experience to back up my instincts.

But the crux of this rather long-winded preamble is that I am still more likely to do something based on instinct and then think about it. And it was in much the same spirit that I began this blog, deleted my old twitter account and started again.

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