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Dr Phil 'Personality Test' Hoax

Outline
Message circulating as a slideshow purports to be a personality test devised by US talk show host Dr Phil. The message claims that Dr Phil did the test on Oprah Winfrey.

Personality test

© Depositphotos.com/ Stephen VanHorn



Brief Analysis
The test has no connection to Dr Phil. He did not create the test nor did he administer it on Oprah as claimed. And while the test may have some entertainment value, it is a long way off being a meaningful psychological test of personality.

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Example

Dr Phil's Test

(Dr Phil scored 55 he did this test on Oprah  - - she got a 38)

Dr Phil Test from Vedanta Mission


Detailed Analysis


This message, which claims to feature a personality test created by famous US talks show host Dr Phil, circulates via social media, email and the blogosphere. The message also claims that Dr Phil once administered the test to Oprah Winfrey.

The message is often formatted as an online slide show. Participants are asked to first take the test and then send their score and the test instructions to their friends.  

However, Dr Phil did not create the personality test as claimed and he has denied having any connection to it whatsoever.  Show notes on the Dr Phil website explain:

Not Dr. Phil's Online Personality Test!
Nina writes: Dear Dr. Phil, I recently took your online personality test. Can you really tell my personality type by what color I like, or if I sit with my legs crossed, or the position I sleep in or how fast I walk? My test results were that I'm the lively center of attention. That couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Phil, is this for real?
Sincerely, Nina, Marina del Ray, California 

Dr. Phil breaks the news that he doesn't have a personality test on the Internet. "Those people are ripping off my name, they are ripping off my trademark, they are ripping off the copyright. So, no, I don't have a personality test. It's bogus," he says.
And, in another video segment hosted on his site, Dr Phil lists the supposed personality test as among the top five Internet scams that use his name and reiterates that he does not have a personality test.

Moreover, given that Dr Phil did not create the test, the claim that he gave the test to Oprah is also bogus.  While Dr Phil did appear multiple times on the Oprah Winfrey show in early years, there is no evidence to support the claim that he ever gave Oprah the above test.

The Museum of Hoaxes notes that the test was included in a 1987 book titled Great Ideas: Listening and speaking activities for students of American English. The test titled "Do you see yourself as others do?" was attributed to one Dr Charles Vine. And the book lists the copyright for the test to the Australian woman's magazine Cleo with a date of 1978.

It appears that the test was republished in a 1979 issue of "New Woman"

The test has also been posted in other contexts and attributed to Dr Vine. Other information about the alleged Dr Vine remains hard to find.

So what of the personality test itself? Like other such tests and online games, it may have some value as entertainment. In some cases, the test may appear to effectively predict personality types, at least in a superficial way.

But, of course, people are far too complex to be effectively categorized by such a rudimentary test. Clinically recognized personality tests are considerably more comprehensive and scientifically formulated. 

About.com's Kendra Cherry describes the issue thusly:

As you start looking at all of the different personality assessments that are available, you will probably notice one thing quite quickly: there are a lot of "informal" tests out there! Just a simple online search will turn up an enormous range of quizzes and tests designed to tell you something about your personality.
Let's make one thing clear – the vast majority of these quizzes that you'll encounter online are just for fun. They can be entertaining and they might even give you a little insight into your personality, but they are in no way formal, scientific assessments of personality.
And, in truth, even properly constructed and administered personality tests are problematical and have significant limitations. Such tests are useful as guidelines and for diagnostic purposes, but I'd suggest that there is no one psychological test that can effectively nail down the "personality" of any one member of our amazingly complex species.

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Last updated: November 26, 2013
First published: November 26, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Dr. Phil - What's Your Personality?
Dr. Phil - Scams
Dr. Phil's Personality Test
Great Ideas Audio Cassette: Listening and Speaking Activities for Students ... - Google Books
New Woman - Google Books
Do you see yourself as others see you?
What Is Personality Testing?