What is a personality test?

Who am I? What makes me different? Why do I see myself differently than other people do? What is my strength? There are numerous personality tests with which we can gain a better understanding about ourselves. When it comes to personality tests, there are big differences and we should not expect that the free personality test in an (online) magazine will really tell us something about ourselves. However, there are tests that provide scientifically sound, validated and empirically proven results. One of these is the Reiss Motivation Profile®, which helps you to get to know yourself better.


Definition: personality test, personality and character

A personality test is a (psychological) test procedure for recording dispositional personality traits. Dispositional traits are characteristics that are not directly observable, but manifest themselves in certain behavior. Personality tests are therefore instruments used in psychology to record certain characteristics and the behavior of people. If questionnaires are used, then we also speak of so-called psychometric tests - in other words, we are talking about written information rather than oral information. These can be performance tests, but also personality tests.

Personality traits that are shaped by genetics, heredity and upbringing are made visible by psychometric testing procedures. Such a test provides us with further information about ourselves, enabling us to shape our professional and private lives in harmony with it and to promote satisfaction, cooperation and coexistence in a company, team, partnership or within the family.

Where is a personality test used?

Personality tests can be used in all areas of life. Whether professionally, when it comes to planning your own career. In leadership, in the team, in recruiting or in consulting, training and coaching. Personality tests are also used in private life: including relationships, personality development, life planning and sports.

Personality tests in companies

Personality tests have become an indispensable part of today's professional world. For many companies, it is important to assess employees correctly, which is why they already rely on personality tests when shortlisting applicants. Or when it comes to giving feedback in interviews or coaching with employees. This should make it easier for them to decide whether the person is a good fit for the job, the team, and the company. More and more companies are recognizing that personality is the starting point for modern HR management. They realize that the new colleague must not only fit the job professionally, but must also fit well into the team on a human level. In this way, they also want to minimize emotional friction from the outset. The advantage is that employees are more motivated from the outset, that they do not see themselves as limited to their qualifications, but that their personality type also plays a role, and that they thus feel valued as a person. Likewise, a fit between person and job profile ultimately leads to better work performance. A professional approach is crucial for success here. An exclusively job-related personality description lacks the human aspects, which is why it is advisable to resort to a tool that can actually capture personality.


As good as all tests that are based on a questionnaire, tests on one's own personality can also be manipulated and the evaluation thus falsified. But at this point the question is: What is the point? In most cases, it becomes clear sooner or later that the lived reality does not match the results that come from the personality questionnaire. As a rule, this cuts into one's own flesh. If you think it's smart to manipulate the test with wrong answers in order to secure better chances of getting a job, for example, you will sooner or later realize that this is not a good idea. Therefore, absolute honesty is also required when filling out the questions. It should be noted that there is no right or wrong answer.

What are the personality tests?

There are countless different personality tests on a wide variety of topics. On closer inspection, however, it quickly becomes clear that, with a few exceptions, these are purely for entertainment purposes. They were developed to make us laugh and should therefore not be taken particularly seriously. However, there are also some tests that are based on psychological models and theories and are therefore scientifically actually able to say something about us.


Big Five

Very well known is the Big Five personality test, which can also be found under the name OCEAN model. This test procedure determines five basic dimensions that describe a person's character traits. According to the Big Five procedure, personality is composed as follows:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

The personality traits are found worldwide across all cultures. They are considered a standard model and the Big Five personality test remains one of the most commonly administered tests to this day.


Myers Briggs Test (MBTI)

In the Myers-Briggs test, too, personality is first divided into different starting points. Two expressions are always contrasted.

Introverted and Extraverted (I / E)
Intuitive and Sensory (N / S)
Feeling and Thinking (F / T)
Judging and Perceiving (J / P)

This results in a total of 16 personality types, each of which is summarized in a combination of letters. The MBTI is based on the findings of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung and was taken up by the Americans Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers and developed into its own test, which describes the 16 personality types.



The U.S. psychologist William Moulton Marston developed the DISG model in 1928, again based on research and Carl Gustav Jung. In the 1970s, this also gave rise to John Geier's DISG test. In the DISG method, four different principles of behavior are distinguished and divided by color into red, yellow, green and blue. The interaction of these makes up the character and shows its strength as well as weakness.  

Red stands for the dominant type, who makes and implements decisions quickly. He is considered determined, competitive and is usually known to make his own rules. Sometimes he is also described as aggressive and ruthless.

Yellow is the initiative type. He is considered social and likes to socialize. He also talks about his feelings, is creative and connects people. Very likes to be the center of attention and is also often described as messy to chaotic.

Green is a steady type who values routines and harmony. He is a good listener and cares about others. Change or major decisions are difficult for him.

Blue describes the conscientious type. He is very reliable, thinks things through and does not ignore any detail. He sets high standards for himself and always proceeds systematically. However, he is often perceived as a perfectionist.


The Reiss Motivation Profile® - RMP

Of the many lists of basic motives and intentions in psychology, the 16 Life Motives stand out because they are based on a broad empirical foundation and the study of thousands of individuals. Many other approaches are almost invariably based on pure introspection.

The 16 life motives were determined strictly empirically: They are based on factor analytic evaluations of seven studies with a total of 2,548 subjects and could also be confirmed cross-culturally in two follow-up studies with 512 and 522 Japanese subjects.

Specifically, the following criteria are considered here:

  • four-week retest reliability: testing whether a repetition of the measurement yields the same measured values when the characteristics to be measured remain constant
  • internal consistency: a scale is internally consistent if the answers to the different items of the scale fit well together and are highly correlated
  • Factor validity
  • Convergence validity: a form of validity from the agreement (convergence) of a measure (Reiss Motivation Profile®) with another measure (PRF scale) whose validity has already been tested.
  • Criterion validity: Measurement of the agreement between the test results and one or more observable external criteria.

The original 2007 RMP norms included approximately 7,800 respondents and were based on a universal set of data standardized for both sexes and all countries and age groups. A renormalization completed in 2012 on approximately 45,000 respondents continued to support the use of a universal set of data. In 2017, a second renormalization based on about 80,000 data, found significant differences between women and men on five life motives, which subsequently led to the implementation of gender norms. Separate country norms were also developed for those countries that had sufficient data to allow statistically valid comparisons.

The current statistical analysis addressed four issues:

We reexamined the need for separate gender norms and separate country norms. We reexamined whether RMP scores vary systematically with respondent age and explored possible motivational differences across generations.

The overall descriptive analysis provided evidence that:

  • Men and women continue to differ significantly in the same five previously identified life motives,
  • test participants from different countries still differ in the importance of some motives
  • RMP scores do not correlate with age
  • the mean scores and variance for the life motives are fairly constant across all generations except for Generation Z.

The current data not only continue to support the use of separate gender and country norms, but also reconfirm that separate age norms are not necessary. In addition, the current data point to the need for separate norms for Generation Z.

Download PDF: The 2022 Renormalization of the Reiss Motivation Profile®.

©2022 IDS Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Unlike many other personality tests, the Reiss Motivation Profile® captures the complete motive, drive and value structure of a person. The 16 life motives are independent dimensions that have a high explanatory value in relation to human behavior and also have a high predictability of behavior. The various life motives are combined in each person in a way peculiar to him and are more or less pronounced. Thus, the individuality of people is taken into account and no attempt is made to assign people to these typologies.

Frequently asked questions about personality testing


A personality test is a psychological testing procedure used to assess people's personality traits. They can be used in both professional and private contexts to gain a better understanding of one's personality and to make decisions in professional and private life.

There are many different types of personality tests, such as questionnaires, interviews, observations and performance tests. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses and is suitable for certain applications. It is important to choose the right test procedure for the desired purpose.

In a professional context, the use of personality tests can help build the best team, support career planning, and improve employee satisfaction and performance. They can also help identify leadership potential and develop skills.

Like any test, personality tests also have certain disadvantages. One disadvantage may be that the results can be influenced by various factors, such as the test taker's form on the day or the test form itself. Also, test results may not reflect all facets of personality and so incorrect conclusions may be drawn from the result.

It is important to ensure that the personality test chosen is scientifically sound, validated and empirically proven, and administered by a professional and qualified provider. It is also important to consider the results of the test in conjunction with other factors such as feedback from colleagues and supervisors to gain a more comprehensive understanding of personality. It is also advisable to consult a qualified and experienced counselor or coach to interpret the results of the test and plan the best steps in terms of professional and/or personal development.

The 16 life motives of the Reiss Motivation Profile® were determined strictly empirically. You can find experienced consultants or coaches on our homepage under Master.


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I have always dreamed of becoming a successful businessman. So, when I got the chance to start my own business, I grabbed it with both hands. I worked hard and was soon able to get some big clients for myself. It was everything I had ever dreamed of. But at some point, I realized that something was missing. Although I was successful professionally, I felt empty and unhappy inside. I realized that I no longer saw the point in what I was doing. So I went in search of something new. And finally I found it: a task that really fulfilled me and made me happy. With the answers from the Reiss Motivation Profile® I finally know again why I live - and the feeling is indescribable!


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I recently did the Reiss Motivation Profile and it was totally eye-opening. I've always gotten along well with my partner, but now it's like we're meeting on a whole new level. We can now talk about our deepest wants and desires. By understanding our motives, our relationship has reached a whole new level. I am so grateful for this tool and I know it will help us in the future.

Buy Reiss Motivation Profile® test and Online Analysis


Step 1
Buy Reiss Motivation Profile®


Step 2
Answer scientifically based question


Step 3
Individual evaluation of your profile

After the purchase you will get access to our online dashboard. There you have tofill out the questionnaire in the first step. After answering the 128 questions, you will receive your evaluated and individual Reiss Motivation Profile® after a few minutes. In your dashboard you will get a detailed and individual evaluation of your personal Reiss Motivation Profile®.

Buy your Reiss Motivation Profile® now

  • Reiss Motivation Profile® Test
  • Access to your dashboard
  • Individual evaluation of your profile and life motives
  • Share profile with family and friends
  • Recommendations that fit your lifemotives

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Reiss Motivation Profile®

The Reiss Motivation Profile® - dare to look beneath the surface of human behavior patterns with this personality test.

What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is the inner motivation of each person that arises from him or herself.

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The Reiss Motivation Profile® is a test instrument for measuring human motivation. Take the personality test now.