The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Pretty Much Meaningless

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The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Pretty Much Meaningless

I have to say I've never actually looked into the Myers-Briggs personality test, though I have experienced people talking about it. I suppose a part of me instinctively categorised it as bullshit, as I never put any thought into it at all until now. It certainly was never mentioned in my psychology studies, which might explain why I so casually and unthinkingly classified it as I did. Even so, I've encountered enough people discussing it that I think I allowed it some credibility in my mind. I've never argued against it anywhere, despite the fact that it's the kind of thing I would take pleasure in ridiculing.

But after reading this article and looking into this so-called test, I'm amused to learn it has as much scientific basis as a horoscope.

By Rose Eveleth
MARCH 26, 2013

Most of psychology hasn’t ever seen Myers-Briggs test—the one that labels people with mysterious sets of letters like ESTJ, INFP, INTJ— as a good way to learn about people. But companies seem to have missed the boat on that. According to The Guardian, they rely on those four letters far more than they should.

Polling their readers, The Guardian uncovered many reports of companies using Myers-Briggs (MBTI, for short) in all sorts of ways. Some companies put it on their employees profiles. Others use the test for team-building. Some even use it during the interview process.

For those who preach the MBTI, this is a quite lucrative business. The Guardian says:

Training in the MBTI and its variations is typical for those in Human Resources etc. and can be quite expensive. The MBTI as an industry apparently makes $20 million a year. When you’ve spent so much time and money on learning something, of course you’re going to have a faith in it, even to the point of cognitive dissonance.

But as for accuracy and helpfulness, well, the MBTI fails that test. Here’s The Guardian again on just some of the weaknesses:

The most obvious flaw is that the MBTI seems to rely exclusively on binary choices….For example, in the category of extrovert v introvert, you’re either one or the other; there is no middle ground. People don’t work this way, no normal person is either 100% extrovert or 100% introvert, just as people’s political views aren’t purely “communist” or “fascist”. Many who use the MBTI claim otherwise, despite the fact that Jung himself disagreed with this and statistical analysis reveals even data produced by the test shows a normal distribution rather than bimodal, refuting the either/or claims of the MBTI.

Article continues:

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 I've taken this test

 I've taken this test before and couldn't continue with it. They asked me a question I couldn't answer because none of the options fit my decision making. They told me to pick which was closer to me, but I refused to guess.

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Hmmm, I agree with a lot of

Hmmm, I agree with a lot of it, but I also disagree with a lot of it. This article is pretty clickbaity, and about half of it is just straight copied from the Guardian article it's referencing. 

It doesn't label people as 100% extrovert or introvert, unless they took a version of the test that I'm not aware of. In both versions that I've taken, it clearly assigns a percentage to your "E" or "I," depending on the strength of your preference. In fact, there's already scores of articles picking apart how "strong" ones "afffinity" is for a type and fencing people into smaller subgroups i.e. whether you are 80% extroverted is a lot different than if you are 10% extroverted. 

Like this crap.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare