This column originally appeared in The Observer magazine/Guardian online

Personality tests have long been used to predict people’s life outcomes; not always that successfully. But a new kid on the block – the catchily-named RIASEC —might just be the best test yet. It’s based on your hobbies and interests. Are they mainly…

Realistic (e.g., hands-on activities with tools, machines and animals)

Investigative (e.g., museums, science etc.)

Artistic (e.g., making music or art)

Social (e.g., interacting with others)

Enterprising (e.g., running stalls or selling online)

Conventional (e.g., computers, data).

A recent study found that the answers given on this questionnaire could predict a whole host of lifestyle factors 10 years later. Realistic types are high earners, and the least likely to be unemployed, with Artistic types the opposite. The latter also see themselves as less healthy than others of the same age, though there’s no evidence that this is actually the case. Social and Conventional types might sound like polar opposites, but both are particularly likely to get married and to have children within 10 years of leaving school. However, only the former are also likely to be low earners. Enterprising types are the opposite: high earners who tend not to marry (or even have a single serious relationship) within this period. Finally, Investigative types are an enigma, scoring neither the highest or lowest on any of these measures of professional and personal life; a mystery that they themselves would presumably enjoy investigating.

 A fully referenced version of this article is available at benambridge.com. Order Psy-Q by Ben Ambridge (Profile Books, £8.99) for £6.99 at bookshop.theguardian.com

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