Sunday, March 07, 2004

Arrgh!!! Yet another Internet Quiz

Background: The standard diagnostic system used in the USA is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Text Revision.  It describes ten personality disorders, placed into three clusters.  The  personality disorders were included in DSM to satisfy those who still believed in the biological/psychological dichotomy of mental illness.  That paradigm has been obsolete for at least a decade, but the tradition persists. 


Analysis: This quiz asks six questions, so it can't be very accurate.  There are some questionnaires that ask more questions, such as the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, that actually can produce meaningful results.  The MCMI-III has just 175 questions.  The problem with it is that just one or two idiosyncratic responses can lead to strange results.  No one has come up with a written test that can replace a face-to-face interview. 

With the personality disorders, the onset, and course over time, of the difficulties are critical diagnostic features.  This is something that is very difficult to assess in a multiple-choice test.  Another critical aspect of personality disorders is that the person has minimal capacity to adapt, to try different strategies in life, if the current strategy obviously is not working.  Again, this is very difficult to assess without a direct interview. 

This Quizilla quiz is pretty far off the mark, in my case.  It put me in cluster A of the personality disorders, whereas I actually am more of a cluster C kind of guy. Nobody is afraid of me, and besides that, schizoid people do not tend to be scary.  The picture doesn't look like me, either. 

The Quizilla quiz has no questions designed to assess onset, course, and inflexibility of the personality traits, so it is more of a measure of one's current state of mind rather than a test of actual personality. 

Note that the author did include a disclaimer, that it is meant for fun only.  That seems kind of obvious, but I guess you never know.