Free 5 Minute Personality Test For Team Building

the boatman psychological test

This 5 minute personality test was told to me by a friend many, many years ago. Simple as it is, it does give you an idea of the personality inclinations of a person. For a more complete DISC profile conducted by certified trainers, contact us for a quote.

We did some research and found out that this is actually an adaptation of a story in “Pigman” by Paul Zindel (1936-2003), an American playwright and novelist. Zindel said that he got this story from a friend, Edward Albee, who probably learnt this from a Greek poet and playwright, Sophocles, who wrote the play, “The Boatman” in 5th Century B.C.

It is an interesting story which I sometimes use to start my DISC sessions:


The Three Friends – P, S & F

A long time ago, three inseparable friends—P, S, and F—resided in a secluded village. P and S, deeply in love, aimed to wed once they could amass $10,000, a hefty sum, given their modest backgrounds. F is a bachelor and the village’s entertainer.

Their lives took a dramatic turn when P was offered a job in the city, recommended by a relative. S, decided to stay by her ailing parents, and to run the family’s drink stall. 

P entrusted S to F’s care during his absence, with F regularly inviting her to village parties to keep her company.

Despite physical separation, P and S’s love continued to flourish through frequent letters. P was performing well at work and his savings were slowly increasing. 

However, a year later, P’s demanding promotion as a supervisor increased his workload, causing him to write less frequently and hide his job-related stress.

The Boatman

When the letters eventually ceased, S became increasingly concerned, attempting various means to gather information about P’s well-being in the city. Eventually, she turned to B, the village’s sole transport broker, hoping to reach P despite having only $50, half of the $100 ticket price.

B offered to transport S to the city on the condition that she spent a night with him. Desperate to reunite with P, S reluctantly agreed.

Upon reuniting with P, she learned of his work struggles but pledged to wait for him. Her return, however, was marred by guilt, leading her to confide in F, who felt uneasy about what she did but assured her that her actions were not tantamount to cheating. He agreed to keep this from P.

Another year passed, and P finally saved enough for their wedding. At the bachelor’s party, F got drunk and unwittingly disclosed S’s secret to P.

Devastated and disappointed, P cancelled their  marriage. Overwhelmed by guilt, S left the village and was never seen again.


Rank the 4 characters, P, S, F & B in the story based on how much you agree with what they did.

1 being the most preferred, &

4 being the least preferred.

Scroll down for the explanation.

More On The Boatman

In Sophocles’ play, the boatman is Charon, the ferryman who takes the souls of the dead across the River Styx to the underworld. Charon demands a fee from his passengers, and those who cannot pay are left to wander the banks of the river forever.

The riddle of the boatman is a timeless one that speaks to the choices that we all make in life and the consequences of those choices. It is a reminder that we are all ultimately responsible for our own destinies. Likewise, our personality profile is like a selfie that we take.

P represents “Principles”. People who ranked this first prioritise principles when making decisions. S stands for “Sacrifice”. People who chose this as their most preferred choice are relationship focused. F depicts “Friendship” People who identified with F make loyal friends. Finally B represents “Business”. People who rank B first are task focused and make shrewd business decisions.

Read more tips on conducting training & team building sessions. Learn more about how we can change our behaviour here. Find out more on how DISC personality profile can help us professionally here.