Frequently Asked Questions

About the personality test

Is the test free?

  • Yes. Completely free. Also, confidential and anonymous. We do not use cookies or other sorts of tracking.

How can it be free?

  • This test was designed to evaluate the structure of personality. Development and maintenance of the test is all done in the name of non-commercial scientific research. If you want to help us out... please consider recommending the test to others with the social media links. Or respond to more items!

How long does the test take?

  • Usually between 15 and 25 minutes. Of course, it depends -- people are different!

What will the test say about my personality?

  • After completing the items, you will get a full personality profile that is customized based on your responses. This will include a personalized image like the color-coded chart on this page and text which will help you to interpret your scores. Your scores are calculated based on the six "factors" of your personality and the 12 lower-order "aspects." Descriptions for all these categories -- and the ways in which they generally relate to one another -- are also included.

What information am I required to provide?

  • Only three of the background questions are required and responses to all items are anonymous, regardless of whether they are optional or required. Two of the required questions are "age" and "gender." Responses to these questions are needed in order to generate interpretative text which compares each participant's scores against their age and gender peers. While we acknowledge that these categorizations (age and gender) are not universally appropriate, we use them because an overwhelming majority of participants benefit from this contextual information. The third required question simply asks whether participants have taken the test before. Those who answer "yes" are still able to proceed through the test but their responses are not included in our data analyses as this would skew the correlations between items.

How are you measuring Temperament?

  • All of our temperament items are from the International Personality Item Pool. The items have been chosen based their inclusion among various other scales of personality, including the IPIP 100 Item Big Five Factor Markers (Goldberg, 1992, 1999, Goldberg et al., 2006), the 240 items from the six-factor HEXACO-IP scales (Ashton, Lee & Goldberg, 2007), the 100 item Big Five Aspect Scales (DeYoung, Quilty & Peterson, 2007) and the 48 item QB6 (Thalmayer, Saucier & Eigenhuis, 2011). In addition to the researchers who were directly responsible for the development of these scales, the SAPA Project owes a debt to many more personality researchers who have contributed to this field of research over the last several decades.

How are you measuring Abilities?

  • We're using several item types from the International Cognitive Ability Resource (Condon & Revelle, 2014). This public-domain bank of cognitive ability measures has been developed by an international consortium of researchers in order to further understanding about the holistic structure of cognitive abilities as well as the nature of associations between cognitive ability constructs and other variables (especially Temperament, Interests and various life outcomes).

How are you measuring Interests?

  • This requires a two-part answer. There are eight scales of items which measure "vocational" interests. These are the Oregon Vocational Interest Scales (Pozzebon, Visser, Ashton, Lee & Goldberg, 2010), which are structurally similar but not identical to the dominant theoretical model for vocational interests. "Avocational" interests are also assessed (with less frequency) using the Oregon Avocational Interest Scales (Goldberg, 2009).

About the research

What is the meaning of the name "SAPA"?

  • SAPA is an acronym for Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment, which is the data collection method being used on this site. The name is derived by analogy to data collection techniques used in radio astronomy. This method is well-suited for asssessment across multiple domains because it circumvents the need to administer an impractically large number of self-report items to any single participant. See Wikipedia for more information on this technique.

What is a "collaboratory"?

  • We first encountered this term on the IPIP website, but several other examples of collaboratories have been documented as well. Computer scientist William Wulf provides this definition: "a center without walls, in which the nation's researchers can perform their research without regard to physical location, interacting with colleagues, accessing instrumentation, sharing data and computational resources, [and] accessing information in digital libraries."

Why are you using the label "Temperament"? Isn't that a developmental term? Why not call it "personality"?

  • Good question. There are at least two reasons for our use of the term "temperament." The first is that we're not comfortable with the alternative of refering to these constructs as "personality," though those of us involved with the SAPA-Project may be in the minority on this point. We think the term "personality" should describe a broad range of psychologically-based differences between individuals and that these differences span several domains including interests, abilities and... well, temperament. Basically, we're using the temperament label to describe the constructs captured by the so-called "lexical" models (e.g., the Big Five).
  • The second reason is that it's beginning to look like the (recently) exclusive use of the word temperament to refer to "personality" in children is an historical artifact. The word temperament has been used to describe innate differences among humans for thousands of years, at least as far back as Hippocrates (Revelle, Wilt & Condon, 2011), and it is only recently that it has been used to distinguish childhood personality from that of adults. The word personality originated in the late 1300s and it's first recorded use in its current context dates to 1795. The modern usage of temperament as a developmental term has a far shorter history -- probably originating in the 1950's longitudinal work by Thomas and Chess. The terminological confusion caused by this trend over the last few decades is well-documented by Peter Heineman at this link.
  • Rebecca L. Shiner and Colin DeYoung have a recent chapter that relates to this topic by describing the structural parallels between childhood temperament and adult personality. They argue that the underlying traits described by both "temperament" and Big Five "personality" trait models are essentially the same.

Where can I learn more about individual differences?

What about narratives and life story research? Where can I learn more about those in particular?

  • Narrative inquiry is a type of qualitative research that (typically) uses written or spoken responses to open-ended prompts. Narrative research strives to understand the many ways that people create meaning in their lives. While many social science researchers make use of narrative methods, pioneering work on the study of personality using narrative data has been carried out by our colleagues in the Foley Center for the Study of Lives, under the direction of Dan P. McAdams. This NYT article provides an approachable introduction to the topic of narrative research and the ways in which it has contributed to personality psychology as a broader field. More academic introductions can be found in articles on the life story model of identity and McAdam's work on integrative personality theory.

I'm a researcher and I'd like to collaborate. Are you open to this?

  • Absolutely. Prior collaborations have included the administration of other researchers' (public-domain) scales, the collection of personality data on participants in external research projects, and re-analyses of existing SAPA data. We're open to other ideas as well. In fact, we view this as a great way to leverage the time and effort invested in the development of this tool. So, yes, feel free to contact us.
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