I always have mixed feelings when I take surveys because I strongly believe that one’s perceptions of oneself and what is actually true about oneself (if that can really be defined or it is even fair to say that we are different than our perceptions of ourselves) often greatly conflict. My VALS results were Experiencer for my primary type and innovator for my secondary type.
I could see why the VALS survey put me into these categories, but I do not really agree with the results. First of all, “Experiencers are avid consumers and spend a comparatively high proportion of their income on fashion, entertainment, and socializing” whereas I am very fashion conscious, but in an incredibly frugal way. I usually dress well, but every dress shirt I own was purchased on sale or clearance and I get a lot of use out of. I also don’t spend that much on entertainment in general, being an overall stingy spender who needs to justify almost every purchase he makes. I think the VALS survey confused my answers about liking to try new things as meaning that I do them unconditionally, regardless of cost and consequence. In reality, I weigh out most things before I try them. My desire to experience comes from a desire for new knowledge/wisdom and to get out of my comfort zone.
The Innovator category into which VALS placed me is perhaps more accurate. I do like to think that I have a “cultivated taste for the finer things in life.” I can be real snob, even taking pride in it to a certain extent. I tend to be a “take-charge” person, but often just because I despise others’ lack of decision or leadership, thus necessitating someone stepping up to the role. I am not sure that I would describe myself as a “very active consumer” because I am pretty thrifty, but my expenses often are for certain “upscale, niche products.” However, I think that the survey intends these products to mean the iphone when it first came out or the latest tablet right now. I hardly ever have the latest niche product like those examples. My purchases are more akin to a higher quality bottle of wine or the latest microbrew beer because I want to try new things and develop my pallet.
I think that the VALS survey was too short to really get at how someone views him/herself. Moreover, many of the questions can be answered for reasons different than what the categories into which they lead you really are supposed to mean.