How can a simple test be a psychological torture?

by workshyscrounger

One of the comments to Sqwawkbox’s post, asks how a simple test can be deemed a torture.

I filled the test out. I chose answers that reflect my depression. Sometimes, when I am down in the doldrums, even making a cup of tea is too big a task. Wash the cup, wait for water to boil, wait for it to brew… Besides, what’s the point anyway? It will get cold. It’s just too much hassle.

The test told me I am a great leader even though it’s not true and not compatible with the answers I gave. This means that my Jobcentre adviser might push me towards managerial positions (I am qualified enough) where I would fail. I work best on my own – that is my strength. Before I became disabled, you could give me a task, let me get on with it and I would deliver it on time. “Ability to work on your own initiative” is viewed as a virtue in many jobs.

Making me work in a group is the worst you could do to me. Invariably, I end up doing most of the work myself to ensure a good outcome. It makes me feel resentful, unappreciated and undervalued.

The test also said I am an optimist – quite a feat considering my depression (inc answers like not counting my blessings, moping and my life having no purpose). My being pessimistic worked great in my job which basically involved finding faults in other people’s work. It was a strength back then. It did not make me popular but I don’t really like people so it did not matter. I am good at picking holes and looking for the worst case scenario. It makes me a terrible friend, partner and colleague but also made me shine in my job. Just imagine I was a food safety inspector and said

“Never mind the raw chicken juices are dripping onto the lettuce. I am sure it will be fine. At any rate, it might kill the cockroaches feasting on the rice below.”

The test is about as much use as me telling that you like sport, have a pet and don’t like crowded places. I don’t know you but some of my guesses may be right – they are generalised enough. From this, I shall infer that you have many positive traits: sporty, caring and valuing personal freedom. It does not matter that all your involvement in sport is watching the World Cup final every four years, you abused your pet until you had it taken off you and actually enjoy crowded places like gigs or night clubs.

Now I shall go and devise a life for you and find you a job based on my findings. If you don’t agree with what I’ve just said, I shall remove all financial support from you. This test was designed by people cleverer than you so just please accept that we know you better than you do.

It’s like Forer’s experiment all over again. List enough generic “strengths” and people will be amazed that some of the descriptions are so accurate (eg for me: not seeking spotlight) that you go on to discount those that do not fit it at all.

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