Stop at a kiosk in the mall, or flip through a publication, and you
might run across a free "personality test."
The test has long been a main recruitment tool for the Church of
The test - called the Oxford Capacity Analysis, although it isn't
connected to Oxford University - leads test-takers to gains in
self-improvement, said Teresa Reger, president of the Buffalo
But others disagree.
Anne-Marie Dunning is a former staff member who evaluated test results
before leaving the church in May 2003.
"The tests are basically manipulated so there is something wrong,"
Dunning said. "You're telling (the test-taker) everything that's wrong
with them. Most of the time, it's what's wrong with everybody."
The test - as well as ones for stress and IQ - is a sales device to
rope people into buying the church's expensive courses and materials,
Neither Reger nor a church Web site could provide information that
substantiated the use of its test.
Robert Spies, associate director of Buros Institute of Mental
Measurements in Lincoln, Neb., which produces the "Mental Measurements
Yearbook" - the industry bible for psychological tests - cast doubt on
tests in which organizations, such as the Church of Scientology, don't
reveal testing methods.
"Any group should include information that substantiates the use of
its test," Spies said. "If they can't, then it doesn't meet the
standards for educational and psychological tests."
Scientology's innocuous-looking tests have a particular appeal to
young people, critics warn.
Last summer at the Erie County Fair, two teenagers wandered into the
church's tent to take a free stress test.
The teens, Dorothy McLoughlin of Hamburg and Andrew Beebe of West
Seneca, used an "E-Meter" - tin cans connected to a battery-powered
galvonometer and needle dial. The device sent a small current of
electricity through their bodies as personal details were
"I thought it was pretty accurate," said McLoughlin, 16. "There are a
couple of things that are stress factors for me, and the needle was
way over, out of sight."