Are some personalities better suited than others to a scientific career? To provide insight into this issue, BioInformatics (Arlington, VA), a life science market research firm, created the first-ever psychological profile of life science researchers.
BioInformatics Scientific Personality Assessment (SPA) adapted the methodologies of various personality tests and used a detailed questionnaire specifically designed to reflect the unique aspects of scientists interests, values, motives, and opinions. The 76-question SPA was fielded to members of The Science Advisory Board, a global, online panel of life science and medical professionals.
Like other personality tests, the SPA presents a series of descriptors and statements with which the respondents can indicate their level of agreement as to how well a word or statement describes themselves.
The answers to each of these statements are used to calculate a numerical score by which the respondent can be classified as having a particular type of personality. Each personality type reflects a persons brain dominance and can be used to point to his or her probable style of thinking.
The left-brain is associated with verbal, logical, and analytical thinking. The right-brain functions in a nonverbal manner; it processes visual, spatial, perceptual, and intuitive information.
As with other personality tests, the SPA draws inferences as to how each personality types style of thinking will influence their behavior. It should be noted that segmenting scientists into different personality types is not based upon formal statistical analysis.
While the great majority of respondents expressed high levels of agreement with their personality description, the robustness of this exercise is solely dependent upon honest responses from each participant. Furthermore, an individuals responses to the SPA and other similar personality tests may change over time, either through conscious effort or as a result of a persons experiences and maturation.
Members of The Science Advisory Board were administered the SPA to self-assess their personality based on adjectives provided and describe their behavior when making a decision, searching for information, reacting to change, and interacting with others. Their answers were analyzed using a proprietary scoring system to group them into one of four personality types: Leader, Enthusiast, Explorer, Organizer.