I’m not a fan of subjective quizzes of any kind. You know, the ones that range from the totally superfluous (“Which ‘Game of Thrones’ character are you?”) to the more overarching Myers-Briggs test, which is an evaluation dating back to World War II that claims to elucidate some otherwise-unknown tidbits about your personal abilities.
The longer online tests aren’t usually backed by scientific data and require a third party to analyze the data. The shorter ones, on the other hand, are often useless. Well, the startup Woofound has created a personality assessment platform that is pretty quick to administer and doesn’t require an external interpreter. Some might call that filling a market need, I guess.
Woofound’s platform, Compass, allows people to figure out their “true self” by responding to a variety of statements. For instance, users are made to respond to benign actions such as “likes solving math problems” or “volunteering.” The user clicks whether that “is me” or isn’t. The interface is clean, with a sliding image of potential “me” items. Once all the questions are answered, Compass’s algorithm assesses the answers and supposedly spits out meaningful results about the person’s personality and potential career path.
According to Dan Sines, Woofound’s CEO and co-founder, Compass was first envisioned as an app that would suggest activities for people based on what they know they already like. This morphed over the years into a product that analyzed deeper personality traits. What’s more, it’s supposedly pretty accurate. Sines claims that outside tests have proven it quite statistically significant for “reliability and verifiability.” Of course, how can one claim undeniable reliability on a completely subjective question such as, “Who am I really?”
Sines told me that Compass uses “a mixture of psychology and technology.” Awhile back he began working with Noreen Honeycutt, a family friend and psychotherapist/psychoanalyst, to help hone the science behind Compass. Honeycutt told me that she studied personality tests such as Myers Briggs and the Holland, as well as brought in her own psychological background test, to figure out what methods could be brought into Woofound’s project.
Sines said that with Honeycutt’s expertise, psychology became a real “center point” for the entire project.
Companies seem interested in using Compass. More than a dozen career centers, workforce development centers, and college campuses around the country have purchased subscriptions. In addition, almost 20,000 students have tested it.
Sines says that the next move for the company is to enter corporate arenas. The Woofound team is working on new iterations of the project that could better help HR departments advise and help employees.
When I tried out the “Lite” version of Compass online, it struck me as one of those breezy tests you find on BuzzFeed or Facebook. I learned that I’m creative and enjoy critical thinking, because I said I “like art” and “enjoy solving problems.” But how much does that actually say about me? This is more a gripe with the entire field of personality analysis and not this specific platform, but it still should bear some reflection.
Sines, however, sees it as helping people figure out important facets about themselves. And college students would probably both enjoy this product and perhaps divine a professional trajectory. So the next real hurdle would be to get more companies adopting its software. The company has more than $4 million in backing, so it has enough cash to get some traction.
And if this is the case, I hope that the Woofound doesn’t start making commercials using the Who’s “Who Are You?” as its theme song. For me, that would be the last straw.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pandodaily]