Personality tests, ranging from the silly to the dead serious, are booming online. "Everyone is interested in themselves," says James Currier, CEO of emode.com, the leading quiz site, which has quadrupled its traffic in the past year. And what better place to indulge your narcissistic side than the privacy of your computer screen? After all, even your closest friends probably aren't interested in where your sweet tooth ranks on a scale of 1 to 10.
Who's taking these quizzes? Of the 4 million unique visitors to emode.com each month (as tracked by the research firm of Neilsen/NetRatings), about 70% are women with an average age of 30. Of the more than 130 multiple-choice tests to choose from, the most popular include "Who's Your Inner Rock Star?" and "What Breed of Dog Are You?" But it's not all fluff. The 40-min. IQ test at emode.com, for example, includes such brain teasers as "If some Wicks are Slicks, and some Slicks are Snicks, then some Wicks are definitely Snicks. True, False or Neither?" (Answer: False.) All the tests are free, but you have to pay $14.95 if you want to read a detailed analysis of your results.
If you prefer the questionnaires that are found in such women's magazines as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, ivillage.com may be more to your liking. The site has more than 350 tests, ranging from "Are You Making Your Allergies Worse?" to "Will He Call After the First Date?"
If you think like a shrink (or see one on a regular basis), then queendom.com may be a better fit. Its motto is "Serious Entertainment," and all 88 of its tests are aimed at helping you not just identify your personality type but work on your flaws as well. Are you an optimist or a pessimist, a giver or a taker, a perfectionist or a slob? Serious sometimes translates as dull, however, and it's too easy to cop out by answering "sometimes" to everything from "I find it hard to express my feelings" to "I tend to jump to conclusions." About a quarter of the tests are free; the rest range from a few cents to more than $6 each, depending on which pricing plan you choose.
For online versions of established off-line personality-typing systems, you'll have to shell out a bit more cash. The Enneagram, which identifies people as one of nine personality types (such as the peacemaker or the enthusiast), is available at enneagraminstitute.com for $10. The Myers-Briggs test, which is based on the teachings of Carl Jung, is available from knowyourtype.com for $99.
If all that feels a bit too heavy, there are plenty of sites happy to lighten things up. My favorite short test is the Color Quiz at colorquiz.com, which involves nothing more than clicking on your favorite hues onscreen. And you can whip through the oldie-but-goodie shape test at users.rcn.com/zang.interport/personality.html in less than a minute.
For truly goofy tests, visit thespark.com, which is targeted toward teens, and take anything from "The Lazy Test" (sample: Has masturbation lost its fun?) to "The Slut Test" (Do you own a midget who serves you sex in the night?), all of which are free. The quizzes at rateyourself.com range from "What Kind of Underwear Is Right for You?" to "Are You a Creative Lover?" Even the more sober topics, like "Should You Go to Graduate School" and "Does Your Boss Take Advantage of You?" take less than 10 minutes to complete.
After taking dozens of tests, I'm not sure I know that much more about my personality, but I definitely have a better handle on my taste in underwear.
E-Mail Personal Questions to Anita At Hamilton@Time.Com