The One Science-Backed Test That Can Tell You Whether You’re A Drama Queen Or King
In case you’ve ever wondered why so much drama tends to follow you around, particularly in your professional life, good news! There’s actually a science-backed drama queen personality test. Or drama king personality test, if you prefer. Or, you know, just a general drama person personality test, but not in the “I’m a thespian” kind of way. It’s called the need for drama scale, and it measures whether we live for drama or loathe it, specifically within work environments. Guess what happens if you live for it? Spoiler: You’re probably creating a lot of it for yourself to satisfy that need. Just, y’know… FYI.
The Need for Drama (NFD) personality and its corresponding scale were developed by a team of researchers led by Scott Frankowski, who Science of Us reports is now a researcher at the University of Texas at El Paso — and you guys? The resulting paper is fascinating.
Frankowski and colleagues define the NFD personality as “a compound personality trait in which individuals impulsively manipulate others for a position of perceived victimization.” There’s some overlap with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and histrionic personality disorder (HPD); people with BPD tend to be impulsive and act on feelings of victimization, while people with HPD seek attention and approval from others excessively. However, note the researchers, “whereas BPD and HPD offer a framework for understanding dramatic personalities, they may not be the most effective for examining dramatic personality in samples that are not clinically relevant”; furthermore, they “may not be suitable as predictors of work-related performance and counterproductive work behaviors.”
That is extremely inappropriate workplace behavior, Pete Campbell. Knock it off. Immediately.
Anyway, that’s where NFD comes in: It’s meant to examine dramatic behaviors in the workplace. After a lot of research, Frankowski and his team identified three factors present in people with NFD — interpersonal manipulation latent factor, impulsive outspokenness latent factor, and persistent perceived victimhood latent factor — and developed a scale to measure them. The finalized scale consists of 12 statements, which participants score on a scale of one to seven (one being Strongly Disagree, and seven being Strongly Agree); each statement corresponds to one of the three factors of NFD.
Science of Us adapted the full NFD scale into a shorter test of six questions, with the advantage being that it’s built into a nifty little widget that will automatically score your results for you. Obviously, someone had to volunteer as Tribute to test it out, and equally obviously, that someone had to be me — so here’s how it went:
As I mentioned, the NFD scale isn’t that long in the first place, and Science of Us’ version is even more abbreviated. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of questions you can expect to answer on it, though:
Uh… no. That is not a thing I do. Ever. Because that is mean.
I’m honestly not totally sure what this means; I chose a neutral response, because sometimes I do have a tendency to verbally vomit, and occasionally there are consequences. This is true of pretty much every human being who has accidentally said too much at one time or another, though, so again, I don’t really know what to make of it. Oh well?
I mean, as far as I know, they’re not — but then again, if they were, I probably wouldn’t know about it because of that whole behind-my-back thing, right?
Not only is my need for drama low, but moreover, I am also apparently best represented by a man with huge glasses and an ill-advised haircut. Good to know.
Given that my avatar on my long-suffering and neglected Twitter account is a lady from the ‘50s saying, “OH, THE DRAMA!”, along with the fact that I worked in the theater for many years, you might anticipate that I’d have a high need for drama; however, I’m actually not terribly surprised by my own results. Simply put, drama of the not-on-the-stage kind stresses me out, and since I tend to be a high-strung person in general, I try not to add to my anxiety by creating unnecessary complications for myself.
More interesting than my score itself, though, is the possible explanation for why I scored low, as opposed to very low: While I have fairly good self-control, my aforementioned occasional habit of verbal vomiting is indicative of a little bit of impulsiveness — and indeed, as Science of Us points out, the researchers who developed the NFD scale found a correlation between a high score on the test and a high score on the traits that make up impulsiveness. Writes Melissah Dahl:
You might say a highly dramatic person lacks a filter; he or she is not shy about sharing opinions, and tends to blurt out thoughts. This is the person, for example who regularly updates their social media feed of cringe-worthy details of their ongoing breakup, or who says whatever is on their mind regardless of the audience. So this suggests that their natural tendency to speak (and act) without thinking could be one characteristic that leads dramatic people to dive headfirst into dramatic situations: Their impulsivity helps to create the drama they crave.
At least I’m pretty quiet on social media.
If you want to find out more about the need for drama scale, you can read the full paper on its development here — and of course if you want to take the test yourself, head on over to Science of Us to check it out.