YOUNG VOICES: Personality tests reveal family characteristics

2012-12-03T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Personality tests reveal family characteristicsBy Clay Thomas
December 03, 2012 12:00 am  • 

As the holiday season approaches, this feels like an important time to talk about family.

I go to school on the West Coast, but I'm a Hoosier at heart. During the school year, I spend most of my time studying sociology, playing saxophone for the pep band, and learning French. All the while, 3,000 miles separate me from my family.

More than occasionally, I yearn to be back home again in Indiana for longer than just school holidays. I look forward to the few times I can reunite with my family. Sitting around the dining room table on Thanksgiving, I gave thanks to be with my family once again.

Being with my family regenerates me. I can be silly, goofy and ridiculous without reproach. When I’m with my mom, dad and sister, my guard comes down. We can tell stories and bond over shared laughter. I feel like I am the most honest version of myself when I am around my family.

One night over break, my mom, dad, sister and I sat around the fireplace to watch Notre Dame earn its way into its first BCS Championship Game since I've been alive (we’re big on sports, my family).

During the game, I had my family take the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test. This test explains preferences. It lists how people prefer to process their thoughts, how they prefer to work and how they prefer to interact with others.

As it turns out, my dad and sister were the exact same type. Reading over the Wikipedia explanation of their personality type, we judged the Meyers-Briggs test to be well calibrated.

When my mom took the test, I was surprised at her outcomes. My dad validated most of her type’s characteristics, but the mom the Meyers-Briggs has described is not the same mom I thought I knew. That’s not to say that my entire perception of my mom has been off kilter this whole time. The personality test made me aware of the very specific way I perceive my mom. I came to realize I know her better as a mother than as her own individual.

The fact that I recognized my mom’s maternal traits differently than Meyers-Briggs identified her individual traits reinforces a common trait in family structures. Family members compromise for the sake of the family unit. In fact, compromise may be part of the reason families thrive.

In families, different personalities come together to be a part of a whole. As long as the different personalities respect each other, it can make for a very warm, receptive environment. It’s part of the reason I enjoy coming home so much.

Clay Thomas of Chesterton is a senior at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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