Contrary to what you might think, psychology is about more than just sitting on a couch while a therapist takes notes on your thoughts and feelings.
There’s a whole branch of psychology that’s less prominent in pop culture or the public conscious that deals with the hard numbers side of the field. It’s called psychometrics and it uses statistics to study people.
Psychometricians gather data on a small portion of the population and use this to develop a test that measures, for example, anxiety. This data can then be compared with the test results of people who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Psychometrics is how you get psychological tests. If you’ve been to a psychologist’s clinic, you were were likely asked to answer a series of questions about, say, what color you liked more from a set of colors or to write a short story based on an image that you’re given.
The results of your psychological tests give your therapist insights into your mental health problems, possible treatment plans, and even whether you have other related or underlying psychological issues.
While psychometrics is typically restricted to the therapy room and university psych labs, an open-source psychometrics project has been making waves in the field by making smaller versions of the full tests available to the public. Open Psychometrics gives anyone with access to the internet a chance to take a psychological test for free.
Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s easy to get insights from all of the tests available. Interpreting these test results often requires a psychologist or a psychometrician to do the job.
Lucky for you, you have one. I’m not the most experienced psychometrician out there but I can walk you through how to understand the results you get. So, let’s get started!
1. Open Extended Jungian Type Scales
Let’s start off with something more familiar. You probably already heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Maybe you’ve even taken 16Personalities‘ version of the test.
The MBTI test categorizes people into sixteen different personality types with the goal of helping you understand what career might be best suited to you. This is why the MBTI is so popular with human resource departments and other talent-related personnel.
When you take the Open-Ended Jungian Type Scales, Open Psychometrics will ask you about your preferences when relating to the world around you, how you evaluate people and events, and the actual processes behind how you interpret information.
This is the tricky part with the MBTI and many personality tests. It’s not really possible to just walk into your brain and swab it for a sample that will reveal your exact personality. Because of this, the test will require your honesty and a high degree of self-awareness to yield any valuable results if you’re doing it on your own.
Assuming that you have good meta-awareness, you’re likely to learn your possible career options using your test results.
The Open Extended Jungian Type Scales measure your personality and thought processes across four dimensions:
This describes how you relate to the world around you. If you tend to focus more on your inner thoughts and feelings, you’re an introvert. If you pay more attention to objective events happening in the world around you, you’re an extrovert.
Despite what pop psychology would have you believe, Carl Jung’s original introversion and extroversion axis has nothing to do with how sociable you are and everything to do with what you pay attention to.
This dimension talks about how you process information. If you’d rather get info that’s directly observed in the physical world, you use sensing more. If you prefer drawing conclusions and making inferences, you use intuition more.
The thinking-feeling dimension deals with how you evaluate that information. To be clear, a preference for thinking doesn’t necessarily make you smarter or more logical anymore than a preference for feeling makes you overly emotional. This isn’t an IQ test.
Thinking-focused people like to make their evaluations based on objective principles like how useful the information is or if it’s important. Feeling-focused people will make more values-based judgments, putting a heavier emphasis on morals or how information can affect their social bonds.
The last dimension is the axis that describes how you act on the world around you. A Judging preference means you like having things planned out. On the other hand, a Perceiving preference will take a more open-ended approach that allows you to stay flexible and responsive, if a bit less organized.
You can take the test via this link from Open Psychometrics.
2. Big Five Personality Test
Open Psychometrics gives you access to another recruiter’s favorite: The Big Five Personality Test.
The constant debate and research on the validity and reliability of the MBTI gave rise to this test. It’s one of the most statistically solid tests in the field of psychology and uses clusters of traits and preferences to figure out how high you rate on any of the Big Five Traits.
Unlike the previous Open Psychometrics test, this one uses Extroversion as a measure of how outgoing, confident, and comfortable you are in social situations. You might notice that it only says “Extroversion” and doesn’t list “Introversion” on the other end of the scale. This is because the Big Five Test, also known as the Five Factor Model, measures positive traits. Think of the listed traits as light and their opposite traits as darkness. The absence of light is what darkness is. Low scorers on Extroversion are, naturally, introverts.
Emotional stability refers to how stable your moods are. The key emotional traits measured in this dimension are anger, anxiety, and inclinations to being sad. This is why you’ll find other tests or sources list emotional stability as “neuroticism”.
It’s a bit surprising for many go-getter types to see that they score low in emotional stability and high on neuroticism. They normally don’t think of themselves as emotional people until they’re reminded that anger is an emotion. Type A personalities, which correlate with high neuroticism thanks to how angry they often are, are at higher risk for hypertension.
“Agreeableness” is an umbrella term for prosocial behaviors like how willing you are to cooperate with other people in a team. Not everyone who is extroverted is actually friendly. That’s why this Open Psychometrics test distinguishes between extroversion and agreeableness. High scorers on agreeableness are more empathetic than low scorers who tend to either be emotionally callous, socially unaware, or downright manipulative.
Meanwhile, conscientiousness is a more straightforward scale that’s basically just the J and P axis of the MBTI test from Open Psychometrics. High conscientiousness means someone who’s more structured and responsible. Low conscientiousness means a lower adherence to structure to the point that someone might be liable to miss deadlines and leave tasks unaccomplished.
Though the Open Psychometrics version calls it “Intellect/Imagination,” the actual equivalent of this dimension on the standard Big Five test is “Openness” and describes how open you are to new ideas, novel ways of making value judgments, and how willing you are to try out new things. High scorers will tend to be adventurous, either physically, intellectually, or artistically.
You can take the Big Five Personality test on Open Psychometrics’ site.
3. Depression Anxiety Stress Scale
Open Psychometrics’ Depression Anxiety Stress Scale isn’t a personality test but instead measures your emotional state. As you can probably figure out from the name alone, it measures how depressed, anxious, and stressed out you are.
Think of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale as a basic diagnostic test that gives therapists an idea of where to look for mental health problems. A high score in anxiety or depression encourages psychologists to pay closer attention to signs of an anxiety disorder or a mood disorder. On the other hand, higher stress scores may prompt your psychologist to ask more about what’s stressing you out.
Though it uses the same terms as actual mental disorders, the stress, anxiety, and depression mentioned in the DASS are dimensions of emotional states, not actual categories of psychological disturbance.
When you take this test, remember that high depression scores don’t necessarily mean you have Major Depressive Disorder in the same way that a high anxiety score doesn’t mean you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
What high scores in any of the three scales tell you is that something is objectively wrong with your current emotional state. If your scores are close to or within the severe and extremely severe range, it might be time to see a therapist.
If you want to do a quick emotional check-up, take the DASS on this page. Open Psychometrics’ DASS seems to not be functioning as intended sometimes so if that link doesn’t work, you can try this form which has a built-in calculator.
4. Dark Triad Personality Test
Back to the personality test side of Open Psychometrics.
The Dark Triad Personality Test seeks to measure your anti-social traits based on three scales: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. While high scores on any or all of these three don’t necessarily mean that someone has Antisocial Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it does mean that there’s a higher chance that they have some psychological disturbance that affects their ability to relate to others in a healthy way.
Though they sound like they’re something straight out of a villain’s character arc, the traits measured in the Dark Triad Personality Test are fairly well-studied. Higher scores in narcissism indicate an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement to special privileges that the high scorer feels only they deserve because screw everyone else who isn’t them.
This entitled attitude lends itself to the second scale, Machiavellianism, which measures how willing a person is to lie, manipulate, seduce and pretty much throw other people under the bus as long as they get their way.
Last but not least, we have psychopathy which measures how emotionally callous, impulsive, and immoral a person is. High scores can mean that a person has little to no sense of morality or any sort of personal moral code. These people tend to be selfish and violent because they lack an inner sense of remorse and guilt.
Open Psychometrics has the Dark Triad Test available here.
5. Nature Relatedness Scale
Believe it or not there are actual tests already made and being developed to measure how connected you feel to nature.
Studies have shown that nature relatedness, a subjective feeling of being connected and attracted to the natural world, can be an indicator of emotional wellbeing. This link between nature and mental health isn’t a surprise seeing as people often report an increase in positive mood when they’re close to nature. In fact, a 90-minute nature walk is enough to reduce activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That’s the part of your brain that keeps thinking the Bad Thoughts.
You can take this free test from Open Psychometrics here.
If you get a low score on the Nature Relatedness Scale, you might want to sort out your nature deficiency problem.
Always Seek Professional Advice
Open Psychometrics might give free and open access to many popular psychological tests but one test is never the sole arbiter of whether there’s something wrong with you. Even if you were able to glean deeper insights from the psychological tests available, there’s still the question of testing factors, behaviors during test-taking, and other tiny factors that only licensed mental health professionals will be able to pick up on in a professional setting.
Seriously. Don’t give yourself a diagnosis in a way that’s basically psychological WebMD doctoring. These aren’t the full versions of the test so they’re best suited for a quick self-assessment or as a tool for your own psychology thesis.