I was recently asked to participate in an exercise that involved a personality quiz whose questions (but not the particular formatting) were identical to this one:

The description of outcomes and the paragraph on the first page don't come right out and make many clear falsifiable claims. I suspect that is intentional, but they heavily imply that:

  1. A person's color type according to this quiz can help predict that person's behavior. ("Once you learn your color and that of your co-workers, you will have a better understanding of why they behave the way they do.")

  2. Don Lowry was/is a notable researcher in the field of psychology ("a student of Keirsey").

The quiz and the follow up discussion struck me as essentially similar to a horoscope reading, but here it's all wrapped up in a supposedly scientific approach instead of (overt) mysticism.

Is there any legitimacy to either of the claims above?

Note: I am intentionally leaving aside the potentially too-broad question about the general validity of Isabel Briggs-Myers', Katherine Briggs', or David Keirsey's work, but I realize a valid answer to this question might involve a comparison to more famous personality tests and the validity or invalidity of those more famous tests.

Edit: To clarify, I am not asking whether this quiz (or others like it) have legitimate potential value in (say) a workplace. I am asking only about the legitimacy of the specific claims above: Has the predictive power of a person's "color type" been validated or falsified by experiment? Is Don Lowry a notable researcher in the sense that he has (1) contributed to the field of psychology through publication in journals, or even (2) studied under a notable researcher as a graduate student or even as an undergraduate, contributing to that researcher's work?

I think Nate's answer below puts the second claim to rest with the conclusion that Don Lowry's qualifications in the field of psychology are not strong enough to "give weight" to the profiling system he developed.

  • I would rather this question moved away from ill-defined "legitimacy" to an actual claim - that it is predictive (of some feature), has reliability, etc. My experience with corporate personality tests is that they are based on woo, but standing on a chair and reminding people "Not everyone thinks and feels the same way as you" seems to have "legitimate" value in promoting communication.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 4:25
  • 1
    @Oddthinking I updated the title to avoid the "legitimacy" phrasing, and added a bit at the end to clarify the question.
    – user21302
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


To address the second claim:

Businessweek has a profile of Lowry which says that he holds a bachelor's in education from the University of Washington, but has no mention of any graduate degrees, which one would expect for a notable researcher. Moreover, Keirsey's profile from the company he founded says that he was a professor at California State University, Fullerton, but has no mention of any affiliation with the University of Washington. Therefore, it does not appear that Lowry was a student of Keirsey in the usual academic sense.


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