In order to prepare for his Oscar winning role in the 1976 classic, Taxi Driver, Robert de Niro famously worked 15 hours days for an entire month as a New York City cab driver. In addition to obtaining his cab license, he studied mental illness extensively. For us film fans who marveled at Mr. de Niro’s ability to capture every inch of the character he was cast to play, the details of his exhaustive preparation give us great insight into how the actor managed to pull off the role so effectively. His dedication to living in the mind and body of the character is what facilitated his brilliant transformation into the fictional Travis Bickle, a character who felt uncomfortably real to audiences in theaters everywhere.
As we create content, we too must live in the minds of fictional characters. Stay with me now, but what we do when we use a platform like Riddle to create engaging quizzes, lists and trivia, is not so different, albeit (hopefully) far less dark.
When we set out to create an engaging, highly sharable personality quiz, we as creators take on the responsibility of understanding the personas of the people who we’re building the content for. If, for example, we’re going to tell someone they’re just like a legendary adventurer, we need to understand the thought process of a legendary adventurer. Is this person more likely to be an introvert or an extrovert? Do we think this type of person would prefer coffee over tea? Maybe they’re more inclined to go partying on a Saturday night rather than staying in and watching a comedy on Netflix. These are things we need to know. I encourage you to channel your inner Travis Bickle and find a mirror, stand in front of it and have a quick chat with each of your personality result types.
This is important is because the most successful, most shared quizzes are ones where the user feels he/she has been understood on a deeper level and been given an accurate psychological assessment. We are asking people to engage with our content by answering, at times, very personal questions. Thus we need to establish a trust between us as creators and our users. And in order not to lose this trust, we need to make sure we’re always on point. This applies to all parts of our content.
If, for example, you write a question and put yourself in a potential user’s shoes but you’re still unsure of how to associate the answers, consider whether you’re asking the right question. If you don’t feel confident pushing a user towards a result after you’ve exhausted analyzing the many facets of their personality, reconsider whether the question is relevant. You can also include questions that merely serve to set the mood of the quiz. These are questions that aren’t used to determine the personality of a user, but only asked to further immerse the user. For example, in a quiz about driving a taxi, we could ask “What scent would you hang from your rearview mirror?” The answers would be fun and make the experience of being in a cab come alive with smell without having to associate towards a personality.
Although you can always set the associations to none, if you feel the question is out of place, I assure you, the people who take your quiz will feel the same way. Remember: you’re guiding users on an intimate journey to discover a dimension of their personality. Even the slightest hiccup along the way risks pulling them out of the experience.
This deeper understanding of the inner workings of certain personalities and the emotions that come along with them, enables us to treat the users with the care they deserve. Never discount the ability of a personality quiz to make someone laugh, cry, or beam with pride. It is when people feel these strong emotions, that they share. Don’t believe me? Scroll through any one of your social media feeds and you’ll find a majority of people who can’t wait to share their personal experiences with the world. Now it’s our job to give them something worth sharing.