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The Cult of Personality Testing

The Cult of Personality Testing

How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves

Award-winning psychology writer Annie Paul delivers a scathing exposé on the history and effects of personality tests.

Millions of people worldwide take personality tests each year to direct their education, to decide on a career, to determine if they'll be hired, to join the armed forces, and to settle legal disputes. Yet, according to award-winning psychology writer Annie Murphy Paul, the sheer number of tests administered obscures a simple fact: they don't work. Most personality tests are seriously flawed, and sometimes unequivocally wrong. They fail the field's own standards of validity and reliability. They ask intrusive questions. They produce descriptions of people that are nothing like human beings as they actually are: complicated, contradictory, changeable across time and place. The Cult Of Personality Testing documents, for the first time, the disturbing consequences of these tests. Children are being labeled in limiting ways. Businesses and the government are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars every year, only to make ill-informed decisions about hiring and firing. Job seekers are having their privacy invaded and their rights trampled, and our judicial system is being undermined by faulty evidence. Paul's eye-opening chronicle reveals the fascinating history behind a lucrative and largely unregulated business. Captivating, insightful, and sometimes shocking, The Cult Of Personality Testing offers an exhilarating trip into the human mind and heart.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743280723 | 
  • October 2005
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About the Author

Annie Murphy Paul
Photo Credit: Ali Price

Annie Murphy Paul

Annie Murphy Paul is a magazine journalist and book author who writes about the biological and social sciences. Born in Philadelphia, she graduated from Yale University and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A former senior editor at Psychology Today magazine, she was awarded the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Slate, Discover, Health, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. She is the author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives and The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves.

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