Theory: Online Personality Tests and Self Discovery

Web users go nuts over personality tests; With the soaring popularity of online identity tests, ‘self-discovery’-of sorts- is not just a few clicks away. 

After exploring concepts relating to self-identity and persuasion online, I kept thinking about how I could incorporate these concepts into my website and also make an education statement in regards to oversharing data. I knew I wanted to create some sort of a story that takes a user on a journey but I haven’t really had anything specific in mind. I was researching different methods of creating a journey for the user and I stumbled upon this journal article about the role of personality tests in our modern society.

Quote 1: ‘Identity-revealing quizzes are the latest Internet craze. By clicking a few multiple-choice answers, millions of Web- browsers are learning to classify themselves as “idealist,” “rationalist,” “hedonist,” or “traditionalist” – and debate the merits of each’ (Jones, 2002).

With tastes and wants being dictated and influenced by advertising agencies in our modern society, I think people have been lost in the ambiguity of this world and have lost track of who they are. With the blurring of the private and public people no longer exactly understand their identities and thus use methods like taking online tests in hopes that they will provide them with a better understanding of their identities. I think that this quote reveals how significant online quizzes have become in people’s lives and I definitely want to incorporate that into my website. Additionally, I think this relates to the the previous post titled ‘Is Technology Stealing Our (Self) Identities?’, in which I explored that technology ‘undermine our ability to attain what it promises-a surer sense of who we are and where we belong’ (Taylor, 2011).

Quote 2: ‘The most popular tests are those that straddle entertainment and insight. Their growing popularity is “an assertion of identity,” says David Silver, a cyberculture expert at the University of Washington in Seattle ‘ (Jones, 2002).

As people are not sure about who they are anymore, they rely on these tests to assert an identity on them. Thus, this since this method has become very popular, I could use it to attract the users and keep them interested enough in what they could discover from a quiz to stay on my website long enough to actually get the educational part on data oversharing in the end.

Quote 2: ‘Yet sites that do offer serious advice may have some serious problems of their own. One website owned by the pharmaceutical company Paxil offers a test for symptoms of social anxiety disorder, for which Paxil also sells drugs. Prof. Debra Hope, an expert in anxiety disorders at the University of Nebraska, cautions that they have “drawn the line very, very liberally” in recommending visits to healthcare professionals’ (Jones, 2002).

This quote shows that even when people try and understand their identities though taking tests which they believe, they are still taken advantage of and are exposed to a level of control on the internet. In this particular case, a pharmaceutical company was using this method of taking a test for people to find out about their medical condition. This company could have easily used this method to persuade people that they have anxiety and thus need to buy the products that help with this anxiety, which are produced and sold by the company who made the test. This once again reveals the standardization concept that I mentioned earlier which stated that the majority of the websites on the Internet are have a profit motive.

Overall, I think incorporating a quiz into my website will actually be really interesting to create and I am actually very excited now to try and implement that into my website and come up with interesting questions in order to attract my users.

Bibliography:

Jones, T. (2002). Web users go nuts over personality tests ; With the soaring popularity of online identity tests, ‘self- discovery’ – of sorts – is now just a few clicks away. The Christian Science Monitor, 3(3).

Taylor, J. (2011). Is Technology Stealing Our (Self) Identities?. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jim-taylor/is-technology-stealing-ou_b_910544.html [Accessed 22 Sep. 2016].

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