Why We Love Personality Quizzes (A Theory)

Seems like those little “Which Person/Place/Thing from FillInTheBlank Are YOU?” quizzes have been everywhere. I liked those when I was a kid. Pfft, who am I fooling? I still get kind of a kick out of them now. So, while I started wondering why that was, I started taking a few of the more appealing looking ones. I know you’re curious, so I’ll overshare a little bit to humor you:

Which Once Upon a Time Character – Belle. I think it was gonna be Ruby after I said my preferred pet was a wolf, but then, I said my dream job was librarian SO we know what that means.

Which Disney Couple – Anna & Kristoff. Redhead & Nordic dude. So very appropriate. However, my Nordic dude is cuter than her Nordic dude. Just sayin’.

Redheads is redheads, though. Badder Baditudes than your average chick…
Which Avengers Character – Hawkeye. Apparently I answered most of the questions with some variation of “Actually, I’d rather just be alone.”  That’s the introvert showing. Hmm.

Ask me if I wanna have a giant birthday party one more time…
Which Broadway Musical – The Sound of Music. Apparently I answered most of the questions with some variation of “Actually, I would rather just stay home and be alone…or with my family.” Clearly if I actually like my family (or am in introvert) I belong with the Von Trapps. Whatevs, man, I can deal with that. And no, I am not watching the Carrie Underwood version. As if.

Julie Andrews 4ever, yo.
Which Downton Abbey Character – Matthew Crawley. Totally thrilled and totally not surprised. And before you ask, NO, I have not watched the new season. In fact, I missed a good chunk of the last one too. I refused in a deepdarkanddefinite way to watch a single episode more once I found out about you-know-what. Matthew is dead. I don’t care enough about the rest of them to subject myself to that nonsense. Feel free to join the club and try to convince me to jump back on the bandwagon. You can get in line. Behind some of my best gal pals, my sisters, and mi madre. But nothing you say will change the fact that Matthew. Is. Dead. 

This is my “Conversation’s over,” face.

These quiz thiings are fun and mildly addictive, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Why else are they showing up alllllll over Facebook? 
When I started considering why this might be, I thought of two things. The first was a book I found fascinating in my sectional reading  (meaning I read sections, not yet the whole) of it: The Temperment God Gave You, by Art & Laraine Bennett.
The second thing I thought of was a dear priest I know who, when temperments were once being discussed said, “You really need to be careful about things like this. It’s easy to start blaming behavior on your temperment, instead of making an effort to overcome defects.”
That remark is actually the reason I enjoyed the Temperment book by the Bennets. They’re a Catholic couple who wrote the book in consultation with several priests, discussing the temperments of different saints, and stressing throughout that understanding your temperment should be the key to overcoming defects, not an excuse for failing to try. 
For example, when I started reading the book, I went to my mom with the skeptical comment, “None of these things sound like me.” She got me to read the melancholic description again (including the part about “melancholics don’t tend to believe in the temperments,”) and gently reminded me, “This isn’t where you’re stuck. This is where you start.”
Here comes the theory: we like the personality quizzes because they sate the desire in us to know. To know where we stand, how others perceive us, what we look like from the outside. They can’t fulfill those desires, of course, because the “perception” they offer is shallow, but they do sate it to some extent. I guess you could say personality quizzes are popular because we have souls. Who knew?
It appears to me that those are important desires to address. How many saints have told us that self-knowledge is a key to growing in holiness? A lot. How many different retreats have encouraged us to make an examination of conscience every evening? All the ones worth their salt. How many different ways did St. Josemaria find to say, “First, consider…Then, make some resolutions.” Uhm, about twenty bajillion. So why is this desire to know ourselves an important one? Because, handled rightly, it’s a desire that can help us win the fight for sanctity. Now, please hear me right: used wrongly, it can make us self-centered, self-obsessed. Used rightly, it can lead to the solid self-knowledge we need to work on our defects.
Personality quizzes can be fun, but what we really need to satisfy this desire is the self-knowledge that comes from time spent with Christ, asking Him to show us what we need to know. Examining our consciences, regular Reconciliation, spiritual direction, studying the saints and Scriptures…those are the things that help us move out of being self-centered and into being Christ-centered.
Or, as my dad said so eloquently when we were discussing it this morning, “We start by knowing ourselves. We should end by knowing God.”

One thought on “Why We Love Personality Quizzes (A Theory)

  1. 1. I love you, you really are lovely–and so long as it is okay with you I am going to start reading your blog on a regular basis.
    2. I love that book.
    3. Tim and I did not hear that Matthew died until we saw that much anticipated last episode. We have been boycotting ever since.


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