Friday, September 9, 2011

The more skeptical I am of the True Colors test, the more I validate its results

Today at our staff retreat, we participated in a True Colors seminar where we identified our personality typology that corresponds to different, easier-to-remember color groups.

According to
"Green characteristics seek to increase the certainty of their own values through being assertive and requiring differences from others in intellectual areas. They are rarely settled in their countenance, since they depend upon information rather than feelings to create a sense of well-being. Green expresses the grounding of theory and data in its practical applications and creative constructs."
Of course, nobody is really a certain "type" all the time, so as I understand it, you are scored on different colors but typically display characteristics of a certain type.

My overall score is Green 23, Gold 15, Blue 12, and Orange 10. I've created a to-scale version of my color spectrum as the image at the top of this post - where the area of the squares is proportional to the score on my True Colors worksheet.

The activity was interesting and enjoyable, but I'm not sure how objective tests like these really are. Oh, a Green would definitely be skeptical of such a test! It seems that it has a lot to do with your own image, and preferences, and not much to do with an analysis of your behavior or interactions.

For example, when I saw the Green card with a photo of the recently retired space shuttle strapped to a pair of solid rocket boosters, my personal preference to think of myself as "scientific" and my love of outer-spacey TV shows probably had an impact over which card I would gravitate towards.

Apologies to anyone who is not familiar with the True Colors process, but my intent in writing this was not to outline the entire workshop.

As we heard more and more from the facilitator, it started to sound like astrology. You're like this unless you're not, you prefer this unless you don't. As a group, we ignored the misses and exclaimed over the hits. (See: Subjective Validation).

Now, there is a bit more rhyme and reason to a psychological theory compared to astrology, but a little subjective validation certainly doesn't hurt anything when you're trying to sell the idea that someone can be "like this" or "like that."

I'm just jaded towards typologies in general. Over-simplifications are acceptable when they help you make sense of your world - so if knowing that so-and-so is an Orange, and you need to be more patient, then great. That's a functional take-away message. Just don't get caught up in the smoke and mirrors of a typological test or take it too seriously (or use it to inform your hiring practices).

However, hypocritically, the more I over-analyze this process, the more I solidify my Green-ness, which paradoxically makes the instrument all the more valid!