In ancient Greece, the physician Hippocrates is said to have theorized that the ratio of four bodily fluids—blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm—dictated a person’s distinct temperament. The psychologist Carl Jung, in his 1921 book, Psychological Types, proposed two major attitudinal types (introversion and extroversion) and four cognitive functions (thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition) that combine to yield eight different psychological profiles. And in 2022, a BuzzFeed contributor suggested that everyone is either an apple or a banana. (I’m an apple.)
The point is, people have historically made great efforts to categorize their inner workings, and they haven’t stopped trying. Billy is an extrovert; Sarah wants you to know that her love language is gifts. Your best friend is a Miranda, and you enjoy her company even though she’s a Gemini. Today, attempting to measure personality is a fun conversation topic, a still-growing area of scientific study, and a multibillion-dollar industry.
This plethora of personality measurements presents a new quandary, though: Which one do you believe in? Research has pointed to three major motives for self-evaluation—self-assessment (procuring accurate self-knowledge), self-enhancement (hearing vague compliments and thinking, Huh, that does sound like me), and self-verification (checking to see if others see you the way you see yourself). Yet modern behavior measurements—whether Jungian or fruit-based—can attract different types of people, who are drawn to their test of choice for different reasons. In other words, the selection of the metric itself might say something about the person.