“Which character on Grey’s Anatomy are you?” “What is your mental age?” “If you were cheese, what type would you be?” These pressing questions, commonly found in the Quiz section of Buzzfeed, beg to be answered. With questionnaires that likely ask you to pick your favorite stock photos of sunsets or dream houses, the site classifies you as Kepner or Karev, 11 or 89, swiss or gouda. No disrespect to Buzzfeed (the quizzes are hilarious, and addicting as hell), but we generally accept these results as God’s Truth without questioning whatever random algorithm the site uses to derive them. Why? Because we love putting ourselves in boxes.
When you type “personality” into the Google search bar, four of the five recommended searches are “test”, “types”, “traits”, and “quizzes”. Humans want to know about themselves. We want to know if we would survive the apocalypse, which Twilight character is our soulmate, and what we will name our future children. In the tumultuous and unpredictable world, it’s comforting to be able to declare our Hogwarts house with absolute certainty.
While some of the quizzes are random analyses of your color preferences, a few actually get to the heart of personalities. Specifically, the popular Meyers Briggs Type Indicator classifies test takers as Introverted vs Extroverted, Intuitive vs Sensing, Thinking vs Feeling, and Judging vs Perceiving. These basic traits are combined into a four letter acronym (for example, INFJ or ESFP). Each of these 16 personality types has certain traits. Many people find their classified MBTI type useful in searching for careers and interacting with others. Reading this assessment about who you are (including your strengths and weaknesses) can actually be beneficial in a lot of ways. When we better understand ourselves, we better interact with the world around us.
Another incredibly popular personality indicator is Hogwarts house. Due to the rampant popularity of the Harry Potter series
and its long established roots in pop culture, people likely understand when you declare yourself a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin. Pottermore, the official website where fans can immerse themselves in the wizarding world, offers a verified sorting quiz. In past years, this quiz was law, its authenticity prevailing over the large amounts of random Internet ones that did not truly get to the heart of each Hogwarts house. However, recent updates to Pottermore have rendered the quiz erratic and ineffective. Based entirely on questions like “River or Forest?” and “What pet would you bring to Hogwarts?”, Pottermore has departed from deep questions about morals and values and joined the ranks of a Buzzfeed quiz that guesses which Leonardo DiCaprio character you relate to most.
While the Sorting Quiz’s fate is tragic, more obscure personality quizzes are on the rise. One classifies individuals as one of the Greco-Roman four temperaments (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, or phlegmatic). For fans of Galen or horrifyingly inaccurate ancient physiology, this quiz can capture your perfect inner self. Another darker alternative places quiz takers in their predicted levels of hell, with first being purgatory and ninth being the fiery depths.
Any cursory Internet search for personality quizzes can unearth thousands of tests of varying scientific accuracy. But at the heart of the personality quiz obsession is a simple purpose to have fun. And whether you’re introverted or extroverted, Hufflepuff or Gryffindor, choleric or phlegmatic, sinner or saint, at least you can learn a little more about yourself. And knowing this certainly doesn’t diminish the importance of the profound question: Which Grey’s Anatomy character are you?