What is TraitLab?

For the last few months, all of my free time has gone into a side project, currently named TraitLab. There have been a few questions swirling around in my head since I started working on it, and I’m hoping that writing them down in a blog post will free up some mental space.

What is TraitLab?

TraitLab is a tool that increases your self-awareness through scientific personality assessments.

But aren’t there plenty of personality tests on the internet?

Yes! There’s a ton of web and mobile apps that already offer some kind of personality testing. Here’s a few of the top hits from searching personality tests:

All of the above sites offer a free test and some brief results, with an option to purchase a more detailed profile ($10-$30 USD).

So what makes TraitLab any different?

Most current offerings are primarily entertainment. They’re cute, fun, and fast, but not really based on any real research.

TraitLab is completely research-based, meaning that all of the assessments and analysis are based on actual peer-reviewed research from scientific journals.

There’s no magical proprietary algorithms behind it. TraitLab simply provides well-established assessments, compares each person’s responses to what is known from current personality research, and reports back what current science can tell us about that person’s personality and its influence on several areas of their life.

How will TraitLab make money?

If it ever makes money, it will be far in the future. My current goal is to create a useful, free, and private personality service as an alternative to the junk that is out there now. As part of that goal, I want to keep the service free for individuals.

I could see premium, paid plans available for some group-level features (for teams or other organizations), but that’s a long way off.

But how will people ever hear about TraitLab?

I’m focusing on organic search traffic as the primary channel. Right now about 80% of the traffic to TraitLab is organic and lands on the TraitLab Blog. Based on search volume for topics in the personality world, I’m trying to write useful blog posts about those topics if I also think TraitLab would be a useful resource for that person.

For example, there’s 20,000+ searches per month for topics around “how to describe yourself”. I think the assessment results that TraitLab provides could really help someone describe themself better, so I wrote Find 100 Words to Describe Yourself in 5 Minutes.

There’s similar search volume around the Agreeableness dimension of the Big Five personality framework, which is at the heart of TraitLab. So I added What is Agreeableness? to give a quick overview of the dimension, and offer an easy way to assess your own level of agreeableness.

Why bother doing this?

TraitLab is a great outlet for me to build something useful and write about a topic I love.

Since leaving my academic bubble for a career in software development, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about personality. Two things stood out to me:

  1. People are very interested in practical applications of personality assessment, especially in the context of work and teams.
  2. Most of the popular ideas around personality are about 50 years out of date.

I spent a big chunk of my life studying psychological measurement and personality, and I know there’s a still a ton of fascinating information still buried in academic research journals. I’m betting that some of it could be turned into a very useful service.

What are you working on right now?

Anything that can help people find TraitLab! Right now, that means less coding, and more blogging.

Whew! That feels better.