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What’s Your Personality Type?

According to a few personality tests like: Coloured Thinking, Belbin and Myers Briggs, I am a Green, Plant, INFP type respectively. Or if you prefer the Hippocratic old school, I may be described as a Melancholic, Phlegmatic, with twists of Sanguine and a dash of Choleric (for good measure)! I guess I’m like some exotic cocktail that’s probably best left well alone, never mind shaken or stirred, but what’s the real value in all this anyway?

Last week, I attended a BCS London event, “IT’s About You”, featuring two excellent speakers on the topics of personality types and lateral thinking, and which left me wondering just who and what I was really all about. On the surface, psychometric tests and personality profiles are great for team building, executive head hunting, and for putting people in neat little boxes, but if you do enough of them, you’ll probably find yourself in far too many boxes and no enough sense of who you really are. So what is the best way to identify the real you, among all those boxes and pieces of you?

Well some key indicators are that: people are different from each other; each person is dynamic, and depending on situational context, they may show a totally different character than their typical profile might suggest; also people are guaranteed to change over time as they develop and experience life. As a result of these factors, no one test can truly pinpoint a person’s personality without a certain degree of fuzziness, and this is a key differentiator between people and machines, at least for now.

The fact is that we human beings are complex creatures, and any simplifying formula that can help predict how a person will respond to a certain situation is often a great help in selecting partners, team mates, soldiers and leaders, (and perhaps even insurance salespeople). In addition, such personality profiling techniques may prove invaluable for customer interaction and crisis management, especially between humans and computer based interactive systems. The toughest challenge however remains how to map each person’s personality and their immediate situational context, in order to make the best decisions based on accurate predictive profiling. These techniques really only scratch the surface of what must be understood about our human nature before we can hope to see truly dynamic and user friendly systems. So next time someone asks you about your personality type, just tell them you are human, and still evolving.

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