Did The Dalai Lama Really Make This Personality Test? His Holiness Has More Important Things On His Mind

The internet is full of quizzes promising to reveal secrets about your inner self with just a few quick questions — so it may surprise you that one of the most popular of these is often attributed to his holiness the Dalai Lama. But, did the Dalai Lama really make this personality test? For those unfamiliar, the “Dalai Lama Personality Quiz,” also known as the “Ancient Tibetan Personality Test,” is a four-question quiz that pops up on the internet from time to time; it's said to reveal “how you see your life on an inmost level, and your attitude towards people.” Some sources even claim that this quick quiz has a 97 percent accuracy rate, which must be pretty difficult to judge given the subjective nature of the test. If you're raising your eyebrows at that, though, you've got good reason — and reason to question whether the quiz was actually created by the Dalai Lama in the first place, too.

Considering that “Dalai Lama” translates to the “Ocean of Wisdom,” one could imagine that any personality quiz made by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14 Dalai Lama, would be pretty darn enlightening. But wouldn’t the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people have better things to do than make a simplistic internet quiz? Like, say... leading? When you stop to consider it, it's laughable to think that the great High Lamas are are sitting around seeking wisdom from this “ancient Tibetan” four-question quiz about colors and farm animals .

And indeed, myth-busting site Snopes debunked the rumor that the Dalai Lama was in anyway associated with this quiz back in 2007/2008. This broad internet hoax is thought to have started as an email chain letter in the late ‘90s; wish fulfillment and encouraged forwarding are trademarks of these kinds of emails. Snopes even found one of the earlier versions of the identity test prior to it's lofty attribution, posted in 1998 to a USENET newsgroup.


Of course, even if it's not real, that doesn't mean it isn't fun. As anyone who has ever been to therapy will tell you, it takes a lot more than five minutes of word association to gain insight into your "authentic inner self"; however, the internet lives for short, pithy quizzes, because we love reading about ourselves. For the curious, Snopes sites this example of the Dalai Lama Personality Test from a 2005 email:

The Dalai Lama said read it to see if it works for you.

Just 4 questions. Do not cheat by looking up the answers. The mind is like a parachute it works best when it is opened.

This is fun to do, but you have to follow the instructions very closely. Do not cheat. MAKE A WISH BEFORE BEGINNING THE TEST!!

A Warning! Answer the questions as you go along.

There are only four questions and if you see them all before finishing you will not have honest results. Go down slowly and do each exercise as you scroll down. Don't look ahead. Get pencil and paper to write your answers as you go along. You will need it at the end. This is an honest questionnaire, which will tell you a lot about your true self.

Put the following 5 animals in the order of your preference:

a. Cowb. Tigerc. Sheepd. Horsee. Pig

Write one word that describes each one of the following:

a. Dog is...b. Cat is...c. Rat is...d. Coffee is...e. Sea is...

Think of someone (who also knows you and is important to you) that you can relate them to the following colors: (Please do not repeat your answer twice. Name just one person for each color.)

a. Yellowb. Orangec. Redd. Whitee. Green

Finally, write down your favorite number and your favorite day of the week.

Finished? Please be sure that your answers are what you REALLY feel... last chance... Look at the interpretations below.: But first before continuing, repeat your wish.

This will define your priorities in your life.

Cow: signifies CAREERTiger Signifies PRIDESheep Signifies LOVEHorse Signifies FAMILYPig Signifies MONEY

Your description of dog implies YOUR OWN PERSONALITY.Your description of cat implies the personality of your partner.Your description of rat implies the personality of your enemies.Your description of coffee is how you interpret SEX.Your description of the Sea implies your own life.

Yellow: Someone you will never forget.Orange: Someone you consider your true friend.Red: Someone that you really love.White: Your twin soul.Green: Someone that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Send this message to as many persons as your favorite number, and your wish will be granted on your favorite day.

With all the fake news circulating as of late, it comes as no surprise that someone would attempt to give this “personality quiz” credibility by attaching the Dalai Lama’s title to it. Indeed, the 14th Dalai Lama has be the subject of many internet hoaxes over the years, including a fake letter responding to the Sept. 11 attacks and a chain email mantra listing 18 "Instructions for life."

This is how I believe the Dalai Lama might respond to this over simplified guide:


Instead of thinking of this quiz as a real psychometrics instrument, Snopes advises that we view it "similar to a horoscope or a fortune cookie: All of them make broad, general predictions which seemingly apply to a great many people." However, when I answered that "coffee is delicious," I think the quiz might have gotten at least a few things correct... or maybe the majority of people just like caffeine.

Images: Getty Images; Giphy (2)