Copyright: antonioguillem / 123RF Photo

Copyright: antonioguillem / 123RF Photo

Can I confess something? Lately I can’t help but be intrigued by some of the crazy quizzes in my Facebook feed. I don’t really expect them to offer an answer to the deep philosophical questions in life, but sometimes I find myself compelled to click just to find out what it says about me.

The quizzes may ask questions or merely use your profile picture or posts to come up with their responses. Lately I’ve had quizzes tell me that I have “strong character” and I’m “unique. Yesterday one quiz even told me that based on my profile picture I look like I’m 25. Ha! No, I didn’t actually believe it, but it gave me a good laugh.

Maybe you’ve seen a few of these:

  • Which Cereal Mascot Are You?
  • Who is Your Coolest Friend?
  • Which Elton John Song Are You?
  • What’s Your Hidden Talent?
  • What’s Your Best Quality?
  • What State Do You Belong In?
  • Which Pizza Topping Are You?

The list of quizzes goes on and on. So why do we do it? Why do we click on these random quizzes, especially when we know the companies that build them do so to learn about us? A few of the main reasons we do:

Who am I? – We have an overwhelming desire to answer the age old question “Who am I?” Although we undoubtedly know that we aren’t a character from Harry Potter, somehow a quiz telling us which one we are makes us self-reflect even if just a little bit. A quiz may give us an awkward answer that we don’t really agree with (the quiz told me I was Neville Longbottom which was not a character I would have picked) but at the same time they seem to temper the “news” with more palatable feedback such as saying you’re “brave and big-hearted.”

Validation – We know something about ourselves, yet reading it feels validating. One recent survey claimed to determine how introverted or extroverted someone is. The responses filled my Facebook feed. Overall, most people’s comments were “Yup! Spot on!” Truly we don’t actually need a Facebook quiz to tell us if we’re introverted or not, yet reading it confirms what we already know about ourselves which can feel good.

Escape/Entertainment – Our schedules are packed. Life is busy. Sometimes we welcome a brief escape to the absurd or entertaining. The humor that some of these quizzes offer lighten the load by helping us to laugh and see a lighter side, even if for just a few minutes.

This week I did a bit of poking around on the internet to see why companies create these quizzes. In reality, despite the lighthearted titles, they really are big business designed as surveys. It turns out we’re actually more honest when someone asks a question on a quiz than when we’re responding to “a survey.” And, while many of us wouldn’t give a telemarketer or surveyor the time of day, the idea of receiving input to who am I, or receiving validation, or a brief escape sounds inviting. Companies have found when we like the response it gives us or it makes us laugh, we’re more likely to share it, causing our friends to want to willingly take their survey just to see what they get as a response.

Rather than click on the next Facebook quiz that shows up in your feed, why not consider the following first:

Ask yourself what you hope to gain from the quiz. Then ask, is this the best source for that? If you’re searching for insight into who you are, is a random quiz the best place for insight? Or could you learn more from another more reliable source? Then take a few minutes and consider one of these question:

  • What is important to me?
  • Who’s someone important to me?
  • How can I surprise or bless someone else this week?
  • What am I willing to do this week to make my future better?
  • What legacy do I want to leave?

Answering these questions may not give you a flashy post for your wall, but perhaps they’ll actually help you answer “who am I?” better than a Facebook quiz. And, when you share your responses with a friend or two, you’ll get true validation from friends who know you rather than from a survey designed to entice you. Thinking about these “quizzes” this way has impacted me. I really think I’ll think twice about doing them in the future. I plan to take my own advice and consider other alternatives.

What do you think? Have you been intrigued by Facebook quizzes? Do you think you’ll still do as many? I’d love to hear from you!

Susan Call - Author

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