The Pierley-Redford Personality Test

Through my friend Steve, today I discovered The Pierley-Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic personality test.

Go and try it for yourself… it won’t take long & I’ll wait a minute for you.

OK. Interesting? Weird? Yeah, I’d probably agree with both those assessments.

My diagnosis came back as

“Quiet and very self-assured, you tend to keep your own council. Pragmatic and practical to a fault, you are not one to worry about the finer points of philosophical discourse. In fact, because you are very much an individualist, you often finds yourself at odds with the established truth or the wishes of the majority. You will often earn the wrath of an employer by taking upon yourself decisions which are rightly those of your manager. You are not one to take credit unless it is deserved. Similarly however, you will also not happily give credit where it is not due. In a romantic relationship you can be very frustrating. While you do care deeply and sincerely, and are willing to work at a relationship, your confidence in your own abilities can on occasion make it difficult to see the world from a partner’s point of view. Quiet and stoic at times, you can drive a more emotional individual completely up the wall. You can become overstressed and fatigued without knowing it. Taking time to rest between bouts of hard work can help to prevent a breakdown later on”

There’s definitely things in there that I’d agree with but also definitely things that I’d take issue with. So what’s going on here?

Firstly, I didn’t feel strongly drawn to a specific answer for many of the questions. I tried to not project external knowledge or associations onto the shapes, eg “is this a white blood cell consuming invading bacteria?” but that just makes it harder to make a decision & hence easier to go either way with just a shrug of the shoulders. So if I took the test a second time I’d probably answer differently and suddenly I’m not so “quiet and self-assured”. Maybe now I’m “emotionally volatile and prone to sudden changes of opinion” (although of course the test would claim that I’d just conclusively proved that!).

The diagnoses that the test produces are vague and generic. They smack to me of horoscopes… “you will meet a tall, dark stranger”, “money will be an important issue to you in the next seven days” etc. I strongly dislike horoscopes… I believe them to be random mumbo-jumbo designed to ensnare those incapable of critical thought. In fact if a friend is reading the newspaper and asks me for my star sign so they can check my horoscope, I always pick a different sign at random… it’s entertaining to watch them nod sagely as they read about how a twelfth of the population are expected to behave for the next seven days and how they can see those characteristics in me.

Let’s do some research. This personality test would appear to be named after its creators. So try a web search for “Pierley Redford“… all we get are references to this test. Try them separately… obviously Redford is a hard name to search for but again Pierley produces only pages discussing this test. So search for pages mentioning Pierley but not using the word ‘test’ – that clears the results up a lot, but still no references to any actual work, no peer-reviewed journals, no actual person. Doesn’t this seem odd?

Finally, check where this personality test is hosted. is the website of a web designer. Not a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a university department… a web designer. When you search for “Pierley Redford“, the page title that’s (at the time of writing) cached by Google for this page is “Test – Richard Horton Portfolio”. Portfolio? Ahhh, you mean an exercise to show off the designer’s web skills. Nice.

Still not convinced? OK… try this search: search for “‘dissociative affect diagnostic’ without Pierley or the misspelling Pierly“. We see posts on several other sites linking to the same test but referencing it as the “Brierly/Medford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic”. The posts all seem to date from about the same time and all clearly reference the same test. This leads us to conclude that within the last month this test has been renamed from Brierly/Medford to Pierley-Redford. Same test, different (but almost the same) names. Clearly an invented set of names.

The alleged personality test contains no links to further research and it flickers and pulses annoyingly, like something from Lost. I believe this is purely an exercise in Flash and a piece of rather well-done self-promotion by the designer. It’s cute for sure, but holds about as much meaning as the horoscope in the back pages of Sunday’s paper. Enjoy it but don’t freak yourself out.

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