Today, there is a test for everything. It was about 100 years ago that the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test came into existence. Soon after that the SAT test was developed. Now we have standardized tests for every grade level in public schools and various aspects of higher education. However our love of tests goes far beyond the world of academia.
There are personality tests, psychological tests, genetic tests, tests of learning styles, tests of risk aversion, vocational aptitude tests, efficiency tests, interpersonal communication skills tests, social skills tests, parenting style tests, coachability tests, self-esteem tests, life satisfaction tests, any number of certification and licensing tests, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Nearly every magazine you pick up has some sort of test or quiz designed to determine something about you from your answer to twenty (or fewer) questions. Now the internet offers a plethora of free tests to classify you as one of the characters from your favorite movie, television series or novel. I just discovered that at a height of 6’3” I’m a hobbit. Who knew?
If you can’t find a test to determine something about yourself, there is bound to be a survey to help you compare your opinions to those of others. There are surveys on nearly every topic imaginable; but just in case the one you desire doesn’t exist, you can make up your own. Even more shocking is the fact that people will actually respond to your survey by the hundreds.
So why are surveys and tests so popular? Do they accomplish anything besides helping us sort ourselves into little boxes? Are they a way of helping us form tribes and restricting our interactions to those who are similar to ourselves or hold the same views we hold or have the same interests and skills that we have? Is there really anything we learn from tests and surveys that we didn’t already know about ourselves?
Perhaps it would be more productive to move beyond our preoccupation with classifying ourselves and others to just observing and enjoying the world and people around us.
• Are you preoccupied with tests and surveys?
• Do the tests and surveys you complete accomplish anything really useful?
• How do you feel after completing such tests and surveys?
• What are some more useful or entertaining ways to use your time?