Personality Tests: What Your Results Actually Mean

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated April 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Do you ever wonder what makes you unique? Or why some of your friends are so outgoing while others are more introspective? Have you ever taken a personality test and wanted to know how to interpret the results?

Personality tests can help us gain insight into our strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Employers or universities can also use them to assess applicants' suitability for certain roles or courses. By understanding the meaning behind your results, you may have a better idea of where your true passions lie and which career paths could be most fulfilling for you in the long run.

In this article, we'll explain exactly what it means when an employer looks at your personality test results — and how knowing this information can help you succeed.

Understanding personality

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Do you need help interpreting your personality test results?

Personality is the unique set of individual characteristics defining who we are. It encompasses many traits, including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and attitudes. But how do personalities develop, and can they change over time?

At its core, personality is shaped by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Clinical studies have shown that our genetic makeup and environmental factors, such as upbringing, life experiences, and cultural influences, can impact our personalities.

In terms of brain function, several brain areas are involved in shaping our personalities. The prefrontal cortex controls emotions, while the amygdala plays a role in our sense of fear and aggression. The striatum and thalamus are involved in reward processing and motivation, respectively.

But can our personalities change over time? The answer is yes, to an extent. While genetic makeup plays a significant role in shaping our personalities, research has shown that environmental factors can influence our personalities throughout our lives.

For example, experiences such as trauma or significant life changes can lead to changes in personality traits such as neuroticism and openness. Similarly, engaging in activities such as meditation, therapy, and self-reflection can also lead to positive changes in personality traits such as emotional stability and agreeableness.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Understanding the different facets of your personality is an important first step in gaining insight into yourself and how you interact with others. Whether you've taken a personality test or are just wondering what makes you unique, learning about the various aspects of your identity can help provide greater understanding and clarity.

Most common types of personality tests

Personality tests can be a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and our behaviors. They can help us gain insight into our strengths, weaknesses, and preferences and give employers or universities an idea of what kind of team participant or student we might be. But with so many personality tests, it can be hard to know which one is right for you — or how to interpret the results when they return.

The most widely used personality tests are based on the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality traits — openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These models measure how much each trait influences our behavior in different areas of life, such as relationships, work, and decision-making.

Other popular tests are based on Jungian theory or psychological types like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Jungian theory focuses on understanding inner motivations and archetypes, while the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assesses how your preferences in different areas (e.g., thinking vs. feeling) shape your decision-making.

Interpreting personality test results

Personality tests can be incredibly helpful in gaining insight into yourself and others — but only if their results are interpreted correctly. It's important to remember that these tests measure tendencies rather than absolutes, so try not to take them too literally or use them as a definitive source of truth about who you are.

When you look at the results of a personality test, pay special attention to any extreme scores — either very low or very high — as they may indicate areas of strength or weakness. For example, scoring very low on agreeableness could mean you have a harder time compromising or working well with others. On the other hand, scoring high on extraversion could indicate your ability to thrive in social environments and be a natural leader.

It's also important to remember that personality tests are just one tool for understanding ourselves — they shouldn't replace self-reflection or honest conversations with those close to us. By combining the results of a personality test with our observations and understanding, we can get an even clearer picture of who we are — and use this information to make better decisions about our lives.

Employers and universities use personality tests to assess applicants' suitability for certain roles or courses. They can also help understand team dynamics, develop better communication strategies, and identify individual strengths that can be leveraged for the benefit of the whole organization.


For example, an employer might use a personality test to identify applicants with good problem-solving skills or excellent customer service capabilities — traits they may not be able to glean from a resume alone. A university might use a personality test to determine which students are most likely to excel in their program or decide which career path may best suit a particular individual.

Personality tests are also becoming increasingly popular amongst individuals looking for self-improvement. By understanding our traits and how they affect our behavior, we can make more informed decisions about coping with difficult situations or taking advantage of our natural strengths. We can also use them as a tool for self-reflection, helping us better understand why we do what we do and what we need to do to become the best version of ourselves.

Tips for taking personality tests

When taking a personality test, being honest and open-minded is important. Don't try to guess the "right" answer — instead, answer honestly and from your perspective. It can also be helpful to take more than one test to compare the results and better understand who you are.

You should remember that these tests are just tools — they don't define who we are or what our futures will look like. Instead, they provide insight into our personalities that can help us make better decisions about which paths to pursue.

You can find a variety of free and paid personality tests online, so it's important to research the ones you are considering taking to make sure they use scientifically validated methods. The results from these tests can be incredibly valuable — but only if you interpret them correctly and don't take them as absolute truths about who you are.

Some additional tips to keep in mind when taking a personality test:

  • Read the questions carefully
  • Allow yourself plenty of time, and don't rush through it
  • Don't compare your results with those of other people
  • Take breaks if you need them
  • Be prepared for unexpected results
  • Remember that these tests measure tendencies, not absolutes

Explore personality in therapy online

While personality tests can be invaluable for self-discovery and understanding, it's important to remember that they are just one piece of the puzzle — not the entire picture. By combining the results with our observations and experiences, we can better understand who we are and how best to use our unique strengths.

Online therapy can also be a great way to gain insight into your personality and motivations. In therapy, you'll work with an experienced professional who can help you explore the results of your personality test in a safe, supportive environment and provide guidance to help you make positive changes in your life. With knowledge of who we are and understanding our strengths, limitations, and motivations, we can make more informed decisions about our lives and pursue paths that allow us to live the best life possible.

A recent clinical study indicates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may effectively increase positive affect within treatment sessions. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and changing unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors, allowing individuals to control their emotions and ultimately make healthy life changes. The study found that those who received CBT experienced increased positive affect compared to their pre-treatment levels. These findings suggest that CBT can effectively increase feelings of happiness and positivity in individuals seeking therapy or self-improvement.

Your personality can be an incredibly useful tool for finding paths to positive and meaningful life experiences. By understanding our traits and how they affect our behavior, we can make more informed decisions about coping with difficult situations or taking advantage of our natural strengths. Understanding ourselves also gives us more empathy and compassion for others, making us better friends, family members, coworkers, and citizens.

Do you need help interpreting your personality test results?


The journey towards self-discovery and personal growth is an exciting one – but one that should not be taken lightly. It's important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules regarding personality tests – what works for one person may not work for another. By utilizing personality tests in combination with online therapy and self-reflection, we can gain valuable insight into ourselves and create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. With the right tools, knowledge, and support, we can unlock our true potential and create a happy and successful life.
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