Blog Archive

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Are you me too?

Years ago I did a fellowship at UCE as an entrepreneur and attempted to develop a business around my Phlumx software. As part of this I had a professional and expensive psychometric analysis done on me. This was basically a huge set of questions I had to answer on how I'd react in different scenarios, and from this was produced a document which stated what my strengths and weaknesses were and how I should be aware of these in order for my business to work.

The guy who analysed the results met me afterwards to discuss things. His main reason was to assess whether I had lied
wildly throughout the test or whether I was actually quite an unusual personality. I am proud to say that he found out it was the latter.

Despite my unusual profile, he was then able to reel off a prediction of how I behave, with alarming accuracy. He didn't know I was teaching, but when I told him, he was able to guess how I taught, how students reacted to me and what was good and bad about the work they produced in my lessons. Reading this back, I suppose the fact that I'd answered a whole series of questions was probably a big help to him (doh!), but at the time it did make me wonder 'Does everyone fit a basic profile? Are people really so predictable?'.

Actually, for some reason this reminds me of Derren Brown when he found a group of people in 3 countries and gave each of them a piece of paper with a description of their personality on. Each person was amazed how accurate he was, then he revealed that eveyones description was exactly the same in each group and in each country - they couldn't believe it.


  1. I also had the test (am member of staff at said university and saw the man too) and although very sceptical about them (they are based on US studies - so based heavily in Western culture), mine was spookily accurate. Also helped that the man said I was genuinely nice - so I didn't give him the hard time and grilling I'd intended to.

  2. I colleague of mine suggested that he'd probably get different results if he went back and repeated the test at another time. I suppose that they try and build that kind of validity into the tests somehow?