Liz Gannes for Re/code:
Adjectives used to describe me are “restless, inventive, reserved, friendly and easygoing.”
Does that sum me up? Sure — probably at least as well as a palm reading — but delivered in the form of inviting clickable data visualization. It’s most interesting when overlaid with the analysis of others and their Facebook posts.
The Five Labs “quiz” is essentially information-free, telling you about as much about yourself as a horoscope or — Gannes’ example — a palm reading. It’s simply a targeted application of the Forer Effect using information gained from your words and phrasing to weight the extremely general categories. It’s significant that only one of the five categories — extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness — carries any kind of negative connotation, which means you are far more likely to accept and validate the reading. They actually could have rephrased neuroticism as emotional stability and avoided any negative connotation at all, but probably went with single-word categories for simplicity.
Personality tests are mostly worthless. The only commonly-used one I’ve ever seen with any kind of credibility — and not all that much, at that — is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (It probably surprises no one who knows me in real life that I come out as INTJ, or weak ENTJ every time I’ve taken an MBTI battery.)
Running a well-designed analysis on what you post on Facebook can have pretty good insights into your character and sometimes be uncannily accurate even in predicting things you haven’t explicitly shared online, but Five Labs doesn’t provide any useful information or make probable predictions. I suppose it’s fun if you’re the kind of person who thinks horoscopes are entertaining and insightful, a waste of time if you have even a glimmer of skepticism.
The irony is that Five created this as a way to promote their products, more private online social network tools, by showing people how much Facebook “knows” about you. Facebook probably knows a lot. Five? Not so much.