Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Meme Worth Spreading

I figure it's time I tried out another crazy idea. I wrote last year about how the IPIP-NEO is the best (serious) personality test freely available online, and posted my results, inviting other bloggers to do likewise. I'm very curious to see if there are any observable trends among us. But only a few others responded. (I recommend Parableman's post for some further analysis of the test itself.) So, I figure I will try to entice more widespread participation by embedding this in a Go-meme.

The idea of a Go-meme (which I owe to Nova Spivack) is that it involves a "track list" at the end of the post, rather like an extended hat-tip, with links to those who passed on the meme "upstream" of you. This allows us to track the meme's propagation through blog-space: just search google for your GUID (global unique identifier - it should be a short string that currently yields no results in a google search) to find all those who subsequently picked up the meme "downstream" from you. It also provides an incentive to join the meme, so as to receive all those bonus links.

To enhance the information value of the data that this meme produces, I've added a few demographic questions, plus the two dimensions assessed by the Political Compass quiz. I think it would be especially interesting to learn if there are any correlations between particular personality traits and political or religious positions.

Note that if you do not wish to take the Political Compass test, you may instead respond by indicating your general economic and social positions (i.e. "left" vs "right", and "libertarian" vs "authoritarian"). But the data would be more accurate and useful if you do the actual test and record the exact numerical results.

Finally, I should say something about the 'open source' nature of the data that this will produce. It is, I think, one of the most appealing aspects of the whole experiment. The resulting data will be publically accessible to anyone who does a google search for the GUID ("pixnaps97a2"). They can analyze the data however they like, and put it to any non-profit use. (Creative Commons license.) So I hope that, if the meme takes off, some keen statisticians out there will take advantage of it, and see if there are any significant correlations to be found. If anybody ends up doing such an analysis, please do contact me so that I can update this post with the details and results.

Anyway, here it is:


Overview: This post is a community experiment with two broad purposes. The first is to create publicly accessible data about bloggers' personalities, which may have sociological value in addition to being just plain fun. The second is to track the propagation of this meme through blogspace. Full details and explanation can be found on the original posting:

Instructions (to join in the experiment):

1) Take the IPIP-NEO personality test and the Political Compass quiz, if you have not done so already.

2) Copy to the clipboard that section of this post that is between the double lines, and paste it into your blog editor. (Blogger users may wish to use 'compose' mode to preserve formatting and hyperlinks. Otherwise, be sure to add hyperlinks as necessary.)

3) Replace the answers in the "survey" section below with your own.

4) Add your blog information to the "track list", in the form: "Linked title - URL - optional GUID".

5) Any additional comments should go outside of the double lines, including the (optional) nomination of bloggers you wish to pass this experimental meme on to.

6) Post it to your blog!


Age: 20
Gender: Male
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Religion: None
Occupation: Student
Began blogging (dd/mm/yy): 19/03/04

Political Compass results
Left/Right: -5.38
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.74

IPIP-NEO results

Friendliness 3
Gregariousness 3
Assertiveness 64
Activity Level 27
Excitement-Seeking 0
Cheerfulness 6

Trust 82
Morality 85
Altruism 58
Co-operation 48
Modesty 39
Sympathy 94

Self-Efficacy 83
Orderliness 52
Dutifulness 87
Achievement-Striving 83
Self-Discipline 88
Cautiousness 99

Anxiety 80
Anger 42
Depression 17
Self-Consciousness 43
Immoderation 1
Vulnerability 27

Imagination 81
Artistic Interests 81
Emotionality 59
Adventurousness 24
Intellect 93
Liberalism 99

Track List:
1. Philosophy, et cetera - - pixnaps97a2
2. (add your entry here)


Okay, that's all. Do consider joining in -- these memes are always fun, but this one might actually serve an independently useful purpose in addition.

To get the ball rolling, I'm going to nominate: Clark, Jason, David Farrar, P.Z. Myers, and You. Yes, that's right, You. Hop to it! :)

Update: More (including some preliminary results) here. A new meme, also worth spreading, is here.

Update II: Results are HERE.


  1. People are welcome to do the shorter one instead if they're pressed for time. But yeah, the longer (and more accurate) one is obviously preferable. :)

  2. Thanks! (I think it would probably be possible to do in under 20 mins, if you took the short version of the IPIP, and skipped the political compass quiz as described towards the top of the post. But there's no rush, so if you're happy to do the longer version another day, that's great.)

    P.S. I too am an INTJ. Not so much of a Rand fan though ;)

  3. More Gandhi than Gandhi.
    Economic Left/Right: -8.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82

  4. Can you explain the GUID thing again? I don't really get it.

  5. It's just a short string of characters that you can search for (e.g. with Google) to find all instances of the meme that are "downstream" from you. That is, anybody who copies the meme from me will have the string "pixnaps97a2" in their post, as will anybody who copies it from them, and so forth. So we can then do the appropriate google search to find them all. This will allow any interested statisticians to find all the raw data.

    Others can add their own GUID if they're interested in following how the meme progresses on from them. So, for example, we can search for the GUID chosen by P.Z. Myers to see all the copies downstream from him instead. (Note that it may take a couple of days for a page to get into Google's database.)

    It doesn't much matter what you choose for a GUID, so long as it is relatively short and simple, and unique - i.e. does not currently yield any google results. Obviously if you chose an identifier like "The", then your results would get lost in the crowd.

    Hope that makes more sense now. If there's any specific aspect you'd like explained further, feel free to ask.

  6. A couple of problems with tests such as the Five-Factor (IPIP-NEO).

    First, it like any psychological test is ultimately a self-assessment, even if physically administered by outsiders rather than by an Internet uplink.

    Second, as (pardon a partial self-referentiality) many psychological studies have shown that people who tend to be depressive actually have a much more realistic view of the world at large, and even to some degree of themselves if they are not too depressive, then results on this test are going to skew a lot.

  7. I'd be interested to see how this test compares with earlier results of a similar survey: Personality-Politica l Affiliation

  8. I'm sorry, but I have a very limited knowlegde of HTML. If you have the time, would you please explain how I could add the GUID/ URL to my blog?

    Thank you for your time,

  9. Do you just stick the code in your post?

  10. Yes, you just need to display the GUID text in the track list, like I've done. (If you copy and paste between the dotted lines, that should be taken care of for you.)

    As for hyperlinks, you write them in the form:

    [a href=""]link text[/a]

    But replacing the square brackets ][ with angular ones ><
    (And of course replace the URL and link text with whatever you're wanting there.)

  11. I've done it to. The more time I spend overseas the more economically conservative I become.

  12. The only trend I've noticed so far is in Openness to Experience (which is usually high) and Political views (which is usually Libertarian / Left).

    Somehow this doesn't surprise me....where else have all the artist protesters got left to go with all these sedition and anti-terror laws?

    That being said, I wouldn't put too much stock into the tests or the results. There are alot of things with this study that makes it "unscientific".....but what the heck, it was fun!

  13. Hey, have you seen Survey Machine? I'm curious as to whether people like those surveys or memes more.

  14. Don't know how I stumbled onto your blog, but I'm glad I did.
    Took the test. Apparently, I'm a neurotic freak. Sigh.


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