By Zasha Hayes
HBO’s documentary, “Persona: The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests” is worth watching. It explains how personality tests decide who a person is and how that decision affects their home and work life.
The documentary allows viewers to experience how personality tests can affect them.
It brings attention to the people who ultimately get overlooked and rejected for honestly answering seemingly simple questions that are actually double-edged swords.
The film takes place in New York and Atlanta. These two states have an overflowing population of people who are all looking for places to work.
It follows a multitude of those people who have encountered personality tests and how they affected them.
The documentary splits the perspectives of those who have flourished and those who have been put down and rejected because of personality tests.
The group of people whose lives have improved are the workers of big business corporations who are white-passing and male.
They make money off of the personality tests.
This shows how discriminatory the test is. People who don’t fit into that category are tossed aside, forced to take the test with each job application only to be rejected again.
The audience is immediately introduced to the different definitions of what a personality or a personality trait is. The film also includes different opinions about these definitions.
To follow this, multiple clips of YouTubers are shown, each talking about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test.
The MBTI is a multiple choice quiz. The test asks various questions about the test takers’ views of the world around them and themselves.
In turn, the test-taker is placed under a specific personality type. The MBTI results in a list of 16 personality types that a person could possibly fall under.
The 16 personalities are identified by a letter and each one has its own unique meaning. E and I for extroverts and introverts. S and N for sensing and intuition. T and F for thinking and feeling and J and P for judging or perceiving.
Another personality test is mentioned later in the film. The Big 5 Test is not as much of a household name but worth mentioning.
Ben Dattner, organizational psychologist and executive coach, said the two tests are the “Coke and Pepsi of the personality assessment world.”
In other words the two tests are as popular as the two name-labeled soft drinks. These two tests are what decide if a person is employable or if they are faulty products.
Many of the tests are copied and illegally used by companies to decide who is worthy enough to have a job. This is why companies that see themselves as superior to the lower working- class stay that way.
The film goes on to show the biases of these personality tests. Katharine Cook Briggs, the creator of MBTI, held conservative views.
Briggs, like many other people during World War 2, shared the common view that women and men were not equal mentally, physically, or emotionally.
She also was abelist in her views, as well as racist.
The documentary shows how the test was first printed out and answered with pencils and erasers. As stated, Briggs believed that those who didn’t have an IQ of 100 or more couldn’t take the test because they were far too ignorant to have a personality.
These people were usually people of color. She made sure that women and men who took the test had to have their results separated. The test even had questions that undermined those who have disabilities as a result of her views.
The MBTI is now available online. The film explains how the database was created by white men who don’t have knowledge or experience when it comes to communities that are made up of minorities.
The result is a corrupt database that excludes anyone who is different. Instead searching for those who fit the views of white-passing men.
The film shows how applications for work became less about that field of work and more about the applicants and who they are as people.
Those who answered truthfully were rejected, so applicants began learning exactly how to answer these personality tests. Employees have to be perfect, always smiling, robots.
The film highlights how serious of a problem personality tests become.
Personality tests should not affect the way a person is perceived, and they shouldn’t affect whether a person is hireable or not.
The documentary is both scattered and organized. It jumps from point of view to different point of view. But it does a good job of organizing them so that the audience can follow along.
It informs those who are not aware of the discrimination they might face when taking a personality test in their home and work lives, and it gives viewers a chance to help raise awareness of the corrupt hiring system.