Personality tests are useful as springboards for understanding. They should NEVER be used to pigeon-hole someone into being or acting any particular way. The results of said tests are never the answers to who we are, but rather the introduction of further questions and avenues for self-discovery and growth. And personality tests can help us to better understand why we respond to things and react to people the way we do. If used correctly, they can be a means of developing greater understanding between people as we are capable of noting the similarities and differences between us and acting in grace accordingly.
One of the tests that is most familiar to the world is the Meyers-Briggs. I've taken this several different times in my life and I call myself an XNFX. The X means I fluctuate between the two sides of the spectrum in those categories, based on situation. I have discovered that I'm very solidly in the NF category however, which means that I tend to be an emotionally driven person (which is in direct contrast to my highly logical husband). The older I get the more I swing toward the Introvert side of the scale as well as the Perceiving side of the scale, but again, those are purely situational.
My favorite test is the Enneagram. I actually took a full-day seminar on this at our church. This is an intriguing test full of complexity. If you do a full test (not the one linked here, but through an actual class), you learn about not only your main personality type, but also your wing (which is the type on either side of you that is higher and colors your main personality), but also the types that you may gravitate toward in times of either stress or peace. There are healthy and unhealthy versions of each type of personality.
And it's tough to boil down all the philosophy into a "simple" explanation. However, the idea is that God is the perfection of all 9 personality types and (s)he has placed in all of us the capacity to exhibit all 9 types as well. As we strive to grow and change in our lives, we are working toward a healthy balance in our personalities. Of course, we're all human and therefore imperfect, so we tend toward one type more than others.
So here's the part that is even more fascinating to me. When hubby and I were engaged, we took the tests the first time (simplified versions as part of our pre-marital counseling). He came out a solid 9 and I came out a solid 1. For years, we joked that I'm the manipulator and he's the doormat and we like it that way. We took said seminar about 5-6 years ago and came out roughly the same. Although, my 4 was only a few points behind my 1 (and not to get into all the theory and stuff, but 4 is where a 1 will go in times of stress apparently).
Now, here we are in 2008. In the past couple weeks, I've taken the test twice... Both times I came out solidly 4. In fact the first time I took it (online this time around), my 1 was non-existent. It's like my creative and artsy side decided to put the smack-down on the perfectionist side of me, sending my sad little 1 limping and bruised to hide in a corner somewhere.
Now, what does that tell me? I don't know. Am I really changing? I mean, people do change over time, but in reality, one's main personality type (as I understand it) shouldn't change -- not THAT much. Did I do the test wrong? The first two times? The last two times? Did I allow situations and circumstance to color my responses?
Or... am I really two people warring inside? The inner poet and the inner perfectionist. I think this is me. I'm constantly struggling to balance the two. I don't know how I fit into Enneagram theory anymore (surprise, surprise as none of these tests are ever simple... particularly for me). I'm a 1 sometimes and a 4 sometimes, and maybe I'm about THIS close to having a multiple personality disorder?
Or maybe it just means I'll spend the rest of my life trying to figure me out, and frankly, that's okay with me. Keeps life interesting.