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4. Eysenck Type Personality Test

Hans Eysenck was born in Germany in 1916. Because of the persecution of jews he fled to England at the age of 18. Here he became a famous psychiatrist. He wrote 75 books, until he died in 1997. Eysenck type personality tests are some of the most used.

Eysenck devoted his life to the study of temperaments. This means that part of the personality, which is rooted in our genes and biological processes. His starting point was the classical Greek four temperaments, phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine and melancholic together with Pavlov's studies of dogs.

Hans Eysenck 1916-1997
Hans Eysenck 1916-1997.

Originally Eysenck characterized an individual's personality on two scales. Introversion - extraversion and stable - unstable. A person may thus be introverted and stable, introverted and unstable, extraverted and stable or extraverted and unstable.

The scale, stable - unstable, meassures an increasing level of neuroticism. Eysenck's term "neuroticism" does not mean that the persons actually have neurosis, only that they are more inclined to get one.

They are continuous scales, so one can of course also score in the middle, for example, only 50% unstable and only 50% introverted.

Introvert - Extravert according to Eysenck

Eysenck believed that extraverted people have a kind of innate black out or repression function in the brain.

If for example they have had a car accident, they typically do not remember anything afterwards. Precisely because they remember nothing, they will not hesitate to place themselves behind a steering wheel the day after, they have been discharged from hospital.

Introverted type of personality
Introverted type of personality.

If they have had a bad social experience, let's say they have been humiliated in front of a big audience at a party, or they have been rejected by a woman, they love, then their brain's effective repression function makes them quickly forget the bad experiences. Precisely because they have eradicated their bad memories, they will not hesitate to promote themselves at the next big party or introduce themselves to the next women, with whom they fall in love.

This black-out function can of course be more or less effective for different people.

Very introverted people have no black-out function at all. They remember with painful accuracy and in all details, how the vehicle skidded, the windshield splintered, screams and blood everywhere. Therefore, they may choose not to drive car long after they have been discharged from hospital.

An introverted person will remember in details, how the whole party laughed heartily, when he could not remember the text of a song and also probably sang out of tune. For the rest of his life he will remember the impulsive, condescending laughter, his very special one made, when he asked her to marry. Because he so detailed remembers his bad social experiences, he will gradually take less and less social initiatives.

Stable - Unstable according to Eysenck

Eysenck's two original personality scales, Introvert - Extravert and Stable - Unstable Eysenck's two original personality, scales Introversion - Extraversion and Stable - Unstable. Notice leadership in lower right side.

Increasing level of unstability means for Eysenck increasing level of neuroticism.

Let us imagine that we have to cross a narrow wooden bridge, let's say one meter wide, without handrails. The bridge leads over an abyss 50 meters deep.

One meter wide is quite convenient, one does not need to be a tightrope dancer to set the foot the right places; only the situation requires a certain concentration. Our brain will receive the signal, that now it may well turn off the dream program and concentrate a bit. Then most will pass the bridge concentrated but stable.

But for some their innate alarm signal to the brain will be so powerful that their entire signal system goes into overdrive. The concentration, which the first alarm signal triggers, will make them to look down, and then an even stronger alarm signal will be sent to the brain, and so forth. The person panics.

Eysenck compares the situation with the resonance that occurs when the sound from a speaker is returned to the microphone.

Penelope Cruz and Woody Allen
Penelope Cruz and Woody Allen.

The scale, stable - unstable, represents the degree of neuroticism. An unstable person is characterized by high degree of neuroticism. That a person is neurotic in Eysenck's sense do not mean that he actually has a neurosis. It just means that such persons are more likely to get one, because their innate alarm system is more sensitive and efficient than other people's.

Woody Allen must be said to play the part of a typically unstable personality, with a high degree of neuroticism. Eysenck's neuroticism is rather close to excessive anxiety.

Actual neuroses may be fear of heights, fear of narrow spaces, fear of open spaces, fear of crowds, fear of germs on the hands and so on.

Psychoticism according to Eysenck

In his later years Eysenck found a third personality parameter, which he called Psychoticism. Similar as it is the case with his neuroticism, a high score on psychoticism does not mean that the test person is psychotic or necessarily will be in the future. It only means that he shares some personality traits with psychotic persons and under unfortunate circumstances can develop psykoses.

Psykotisme is a scale that goes from a social well-adapted personality toward a personality prone to psychosis, with psychopathy as a halfway stage.

Examples of such psychotic tendencies are irresponsibility and recklessness, the downgrading of common sense and inappropriate emotional expressions. Some have found that people with a high score on psychoticism also often have a hostile attitude to cultural norms and authorities, they may seem immature and somewhat insensitive and score as well on other hostility scales.

High scores on psychoticism scales are characteristic for patients in psychiatric hospitals and for criminals.

Psychoticism as a Precondition for Creativity

Eysenck is known for his theory that high scores on psychoticism is a precondition for creativity, where he again stresses that it does not mean that creative people are also psychopaths or have developed psychotic disorders, they only have greater risk of developing such diseases.

Self portrait of Vincent van Gogh
Self Portrait by Vincent van Gogh with a bandage on his cut ear.

This idea is often represented in a popular way with the painter Vincent van Gogh, who cut off his ear, and the mathematician John Nash, who developed game theory, differential geometry and partial differential equations, and later came to suffer from paranoid Schizophrenia. Nash has been portraited in the film "A Beautiful Mind".

Artists have always had a tendency to profile themselves as eccentric and a little crazy to make probable that they also are creative.

Eysenck wrote that creative intelligence fundamentally can be characterized as a search process in the brain, which aims to find not generic solutions - during this process different elements from memory are brought together to generate new solutions to problems.

Eysenck believed that there are strong evidences that this search for new solutions are always driven by conscious or unconscious ideas of relevance. Thereby, he disagrees with other psychologists, who believed that the intellectual quest for alternative solutions is a completely chaotic and random process in the brain.

John Forbes Nash
John Forbes Nash, 1928 - . In 1994 he was awarded a shared Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on game theory.

Socially well-adjusted person will, according to Eysenck, have some rather narrow ideas of relevance; they will instinctively be more conventional and restrictive in their search. Thus they will unconsciously exclude potential solutions that are not socially appropriate. Therefore they will be more limited in their search for potential solutions, and thus less creative.

On the other hand, less socially adjusted persons, who will score quite high on his psychoticism scale, will have ideas about relevance, which are much broader and more spacious than the more socially adapted's ideas of relevance. Deep down in their minds they find cultural norms, authorities and other social contexts less important, and therefore they unconsciously will not let such considerations limit their search for solutions. Therefore persons with a certain level of psykotisme will have a tendency to be more creative than very socially adapted people.

Some test persons could be tempted more or less unconsciously to score on psychoticism in order to profile themselves as creative. Perhaps they do not feel so good in exam grades and experience; and therefore they can be attracted to an idea that on the other hand, they may well be creative.

It is not a very good idea. Firstly, most employers are not particularly interested in creativity. They want employees, who are doing, what they are told, and are able to follow procedures and work descriptions. Such as pilots are assumed to follow detailed emergency procedures, when they have problems.

Eysenck was probably right that a certain level of psychoticism is a prerequisite for creativity, but that does not lead to that you can conclude the reverse; that is, if a person is a little crazy, it will also imply creativity. It is pretty certain that most crazy people are not especially creative.

As you can see, generally it is not good to score too much on psychoticism.

4.5 An Educational Eysenck Test

See below a highly abridged and simplified test as an introduction to the Eysenck universe. It can be used as a guide and inspiration in completing a real Eysenck personality test.

Highlight the form and print it out. Place a piece of paper over the scoring list and answer the questions. Weight truth value of following statements with 1 to 5.

1 means not true at all, and 5 means very true.

Introverted-Extraverted Neuroticism Psychoticism
1. Are you a rather lively person? ____
2. Does your mood often change up and down without real reasons? ____
3. Do you have many different hobbies? ____
4. Are you a talkative person? ____
5. Would you feel worried by making debt? ____
6. Do you ever feel "just miserable" for no reason? ____
7. Do you lock your door carefully for the night? ____
8. Do you stop for a split of a moment thinking things over before doing anything? ____
9. Would you become upset to see a child or an animal suffer ? ____
10. Do you often worry about things you should not have said or done ____
11. Can you usually let yourself go and enjoy yourself at a lively party? ____
12. Are you an irritable person? ____
13. Do you like meeting new people? ____
14. Do you believe insurance planning is a good idea ? ____
15. Are your feelings easily hurt? ____
Total : _____ _____ _____
As you can see, one can very easily score too much on neuroticism and psychoticism, without really knowing what actually is going on. The test report can be filed for years.

Now it is like this that Eysenck believed that our personalities are determined by our genes. We are just such persons, extraverted or introverted, neurotic or psychotic, and we will continue to be such person until the day of our death. Just as some people are characterized as white, and others as black. Most likely his many supporters still think so.

If a candidate has first been labeled with neuroticism or psychoticism, he has got a serious problem. We believe that at all future job search, the consultants can take the filed test report from the drawer (or USB) and discreetly sort his application from the list of relevance; The applicant does not have the right profile. He will not even get to an interview.

There are several tests on the internet labeled Eysenck test, among others: Eysenck Personality test - Similar Minds

This article is a contribution to the debate on personality tests and Dalum Hjallese Debate Club assumes no liability for a use of the article in real life.
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