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Personality Quiz Designed to Freak You Out (Or Not) About How Well the Internet Knows You

Personality quizzes are the lifeblood of the Internet, and this is one of the better designed ones.

According to a personality trait analysis of 1,820 words I have used recently in Facebook posts, my most dominant personality factor is neuroticism. I register lowest on the extraversion trait.

Adjectives used to describe me are “restless, inventive, reserved, friendly and easygoing.”

Does that sum me up? Sure — probably at least as well as a palm reading — but delivered in the form of inviting clickable data visualization. It’s most interesting when overlaid with the analysis of others and their Facebook posts. Oprah Winfrey registers as slightly less neurotic than I am. Barack Obama hardly displays neuroticism at all. As you might guess, they’re both much more extroverted.

This is according to an information computation and visualization from a new company called Five, which uses academic word lists corresponding with psychologists’ established notion of the “big five” personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. Based on the volume of words used from the lists, each person is assigned a warped pentagon that’s shaped around their own personal leanings.

Personality quizzes are in some ways the lifeblood of the Internet, and this is one of the better-designed ones. You can try it at the Five Labs site here.

Here’s the twist. This nifty quiz is designed to shed light on how much light is shed on you, and how much of yourself you put out there without realizing it.

The people at Five are hoping you’ll be freaked out by how well they can describe you. That’s because they are advocates of a more intimate Internet, where companies don’t have as much ability to use data mining to target advertising. Rather than simple narcissism paired with pop trivia, this is a quiz with a mission.

While these moral tenets are basically invisible on the Five Labs site, co-founder Nikita Bier says they’re extremely deeply held. On today’s Internet, he said, “All of your psychographic information can be extracted, all your impulses. We can’t really interact with our peers without this happening.”

What’s so ominous about a company knowing your personality? People who aren’t conscientious are highly inclined to make impulse purchases, so they could be shown different varieties of ads. People who are high in openness are extremely likely to visit coffee shops — there have actually been studies showing this.

If Bier’s perspective is appealing to you, perhaps you’ll want to stay tuned for Five’s actual product: A topic-based online conversation community.

Bier and a small team based in Berkeley have raised $850,000 from angels including Esther Dyson for this coming product, which they expect to launch by the end of the summer.

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