Thursday, August 28, 2003


Dervala's post on Myers-Briggs types reminded me of a series of aptitude tests I took through the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation a few years ago. (Click here to go directly to their website.) The program was started in the 1920s at GE and is now a separate, non-profit organization.

Here's a description from their website of the aptitude tests:
Aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things. Manual dexterity, musical ability, spatial visualization, and memory for numbers are examples of such aptitudes. In a comprehensive battery of tests available only through the Foundation, these and many other aptitudes are measured. These measured traits are highly stable over long-term periods. . . .

You will be asked to do a wide variety of tasks during the program, such as assembling blocks, remembering numbers, solving puzzles, and listening to simple tunes. Paper and pencil tests are kept to a minimum. Many of our tests are given individually; some are given in a small class setting using audio-visual equipment.

It is important to understand what our aptitude measurements are not, for there are many different kinds of tests and testing programs other than those offered by the Foundation.
  • Unlike an IQ score, which is of little value in career selection, your aptitude test results form a pattern showing your various strengths and weaknesses. Two people can have identical IQ scores but very different aptitude patterns.

  • Our tests do not consist of questions. It is too easy to answer a question as you feel inclined at the moment, or as you feel it ought to be answered. You learn very little new information about yourself after having answered in this fashion.

  • Aptitudes are not interests, and unlike aptitudes, interests can change. For that reason, if your interests don't correspond with your aptitudes, we encourage you to develop new interests that match your natural abilities.
The Foundation also emphasizes the importance of vocabulary acquisition, which is not an aptitude but is important for many endeavors.

I scored highest in Ideaphoria, "the ability to produce a flow of ideas." (They stress they do not measure the quality of the ideas!) I also scored high in Inductive Reasoning, "the ability to reason from the particular to the general, to form a logical conclusion from scattered facts." My lowest scores were in Finger and Tweezer Dexterity, so I hope I never have to make a living assembling electronics—and aren't you glad I didn't become a surgeon? The person administering the tests was amazed that I enjoy handwork, but I realize now I probably enjoy it at a slower pace than others.

All this to say, part of the reason I spend so much time online is that the web is a marvelous place to make connections and feed my brain. And my weblog provides a space to dump all those ideas rattling around in my head (again, with no guarantees as to quality of content or whether I ever DO anything with the ideas).

I would recommend the Foundation testing, although it is a bit expensive. It can be helpful to those thinking about vocational options. The website lists the locations of the Foundation offices.

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