Fact Check

Is This a Real 'Dr. Phil Personality Test'?

And how is it working out for you?

Published Nov 3, 2003

Updated Sep 16, 2022
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Dr. Phil McGraw speaks at his Star Ceremony On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame on February 21, 2020 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images) (Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Image Via Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Viral text reproduces an actual "personality test" advocated by Dr. Phil.

Fact Check

The following text was forwarded to us via email in 2003:

Dr. Phil gave this test on Oprah. Some folks pay a lot of money to find this stuff out. Read on, this is very interesting!

Here's something that you may find interesting …psychological profile.

Don't be overly sensitive! The following is pretty accurate, and it only takes 2 minutes. Take this test for yourself and send it to your friends, including the one who sent it, and let them know who you are.

The person who sent it placed their score in the subject box. Please do the same before forwarding to your friends. Don't peek but begin the test as you scroll down and answer. Answers are for who you are now….. not who you were in the past. Have pen or pencil and paper ready.

This is a real test given by the Human Relations Dept. at many of the major corporations today. It helps them get better insight concerning their employees and prospective employees.

It's only 10 simple questions, so … grab a pencil and paper, keeping track of your letter answers. Make sure to change the subject of the e-mail to read YOUR total. When you finished, forward this to everyone you know, and also send it to the person who sent this to you.

Make sure to put YOUR score in the subject box. Ready?? Be Honest!


1. When do you feel your best?
a) in the morning
b) during the afternoon & and early evening
c) late at night

2. You usually walk
a) fairly fast, with long steps
b) fairly fast, with little steps
c) less fast head up, looking the world in the face
d) less fast, head down
e) very slowly

3. When talking to people you
a) stand with your arms folded
b) have your hands clasped
c) have one or both your hands on your hips
d) touch or push the person to whom you are talking
e) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair

4. When relaxing, you sit with
a) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side
b) your legs crossed
c) your legs stretched out or straight
d) one leg curled under you

5. When something really amuses you, you react with
a) a big, appreciative laugh
b) a laugh, but not a loud one
c) a quiet chuckle
d) a sheepish smile

6. When you go to a party or social gathering
a) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you
b) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know
c) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed

7. You're working very hard, concentrating hard, and you're interrupted; do you …
a) welcome the break
b) feel extremely irritated
c) vary between these two extremes

8. Which of the following colors do you like most?
a) Red or orange
b) black
c) yellow or light blue
d) green
e) dark blue or purple
f) white
g) brown or gray

9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep, you lie
a) stretched out on your back
b) stretched out face down on your stomach
c) on your side, slightly curled
d) with your head on one arm
e) with your head under the covers

10. You often dream that you are
a) falling
b) fighting or struggling
c) searching for something or somebody
d) flying or floating
e) you usually have dreamless sleep
f) your dreams are always pleasant


1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6
2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1
3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e) 6
4. (a) 4 (b) 6 (c) 2 (d) 1
5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2
6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2
7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4
8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1
9. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e) 1
10. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1

Now add up the total number of points.

OVER 60 POINTS: Others see you as someone the should “handle with care”. You’re seen as vain, self-centered, and who is extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don’t always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you.

51 TO 60 POINTS: Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, who’s quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement your radiate.

41 TO 50 POINTS: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who’s constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who’ll always cheer them up and help them out.

31 TO 40 POINTS: Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who’s extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken.

21 TO 30 POINTS: Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It’d really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.

UNDER 21 POINTS: People think you are shy, nervous, and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions & who doesn’t want to get involved with anyone or anything. They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don’t exist. Some people think you’re boring. Only those who know you well know that you aren’t.

Now forward this to others, and put your score in subject box.

Analysis: This item doesn't really offer any specific falsifiable claims other than the claim that the above-reproduced personality test was created, proffered, or endorsed, by Dr. Phil. That claim is false:

  • Although popular psychologist Dr. Phillip C. McGraw (better known to millions of television viewers as "Dr. Phil") appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show many times between 1998 and 2002 before becoming the host of his own nationally syndicated Dr. Phil television show in 2002, we found no evidence (by reviewing program listings and transcripts) that he ever offered the test shown above on either program.
  • On his show of 25 November 2009, Dr. Phil ranked personality tests as #1 on his list of the top five Internet-promoted items that have misappropriated his name, telling his audience, "I don't have a personality test."
  • The personality test antedates Dr. Phil's first guest spot on The Oprah Winfrey Show by many years, having been published as far back as 1987 (with a 1978 copyright), when it was attributed to a "Dr. Charles Vine."

Who is Dr. Charles Vine? We don't know — the only references to that name we've found are bylines crediting him as the author of this test.

Is this a "real" personality test? It might be in the vaguely general sense that one can make some very broad generalizations about personality types based upon the way people say they stand, walk, work, interact with others, etc., and be right somewhat more often than random chance would dictate, perhaps.

But this test is far more of a parlor trick best used for nothing more than entertainment purposes — real clinical psychological tests (i.e., the kind "folks pay a lot of money" for, such as the MMPI) are much more complex, more varied, and longer, and their scoring methods and interpretations are not publicly disclosed in order to maintain their viability.

The best way to regard this test is to consider it similar to a horoscope or a fortune cookie: all of them make broad, general predictions which could seemingly apply to a great many people. The skeptical dismiss such predictions as random shots that occasionally hit their marks (in the same way that a stopped clock is right twice a day); the credulous marvel over their accuracy, find ways to make the results apply to themselves, and overlook the parts that don't fit.


“About Dr. Phil.” Dr. Phil, https://www.drphil.com/about-dr-phil/. Accessed 16 Sept. 2022.

“Dr. Phil on OWN - About the Show.” Oprah.Com, https://www.oprah.com/own/dr-phil-on-own-about-the-show. Accessed 16 Sept. 2022.

Jones, Leo, and Victoria Kimbrough. Great Ideas Student’s Book: Listening and Speaking Activities for Students of American English. Cambridge University Press, 1987.

MMPI. 3 June 2004, https://web.archive.org/web/20040603063933/https://www.aaml.org/MMPI.htm.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN.” Oprah.Com, https://www.oprah.com/app/the-oprah-winfrey-show.html. Accessed 16 Sept. 2022.

“Videos.” Dr. Phil, https://www.drphil.com/videos/. Accessed 16 Sept. 2022.


Update [Sept. 16, 2022]: Refreshed links and sources.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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