What's Your Data Personality?

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Some of us might be resistant to data but who can resist an over-simplistic personality quiz? I’ve developed a tool to determine your data personality. Just answer two questions and BOOM you fall into (or on the border of) one of four personality types. But wait! That’s not all. You also get a “data prescription” tailored to your personality type.

Click HERE to give it a try.

Sure, the tool is highly unscientific. But it’s fun and throws some light on how we can help ourselves and those with other data personalities (living in the next cubicle, board room, or across the world wide web) to better understand and use data.

What are the four data personality types? Well, there’s . . .

The Wonky

These are the unabashed number lovers with a deep belief that, with enough data, we can make much better decisions. They yearn for equations and algorithms. They find meaning in all those Greek statistical symbols that baffle the rest of us. Data Prescription: Feed the Wonky a steady and ample diet of data in almost any form. But also help them to communicate data to the not-so-wonky through charts, maps, and graphs so that the message behind the data is as clear to others as it is to them.

The Intimidated

The intimidated long for the objectivity that data and the scientific method offer. They want something besides their gut or conventional wisdom as a compass. But they glaze over at the sight of a spreadsheet and worry that they cannot confidently assess the quality or implications of their data. Data Prescription: Relax the Intimidated with well-designed charts, maps, and graphs.

The Cautious

These folks are comfortable with numbers. They took stats in high school or college and aced it. But they worry about the accuracy of data, particularly data they did not collect themselves. Data Prescription: Like the Intimidated, the Cautious do well with charts, maps, and graphs but also need assurances regarding data sources. While you should be upfront about the sources and limitations of your data with all data personality types, provide more detailed information to the Cautious.

The Averse

In the Averse, we find the perfect storm: both a distaste for and a distrust of data. Data Prescription: They need to be eased along in their engagement with data. Try starting with data that’s familiar to them. And what’s more familiar and fascinating than data about ourselves? So try putting-the-viewer-in-the-viz. Show The Averse how their height, salary, diet, or opinions compare to that of others. Ask them to guess a statistic before showing them the answer. (For a great example of this, see this article in the Guardian.) As you move them into more complex data, make your charts as simple and user-friendly as possible. This often includes sign posts directing them through the viz.

Yes, visualized data (in the form of charts, maps, and graphs) are prescribed for all data personality types. They either clarify data for you or for others who need to understand it. Data viz is no cure-all but it often helps, particularly in nonprofits which are often staffed by the Intimidated and the Averse.

I hope this personality quiz — like so many over-simplistic quizes — makes you feel less alone and gets you thinking about upping your data game.

For many tips on why and how to visualize data, take a stroll through past 60-Second Data Tips.

And, if you haven’t already, click HERE for a 3-second data diagnosis and prescription.