It’s my opinion that personality tests are scientifically bogus.
Don’t get me wrong, they are fun to take and used to reaffirm qualities people think about themselves, but ultimately they are pseudoscience. Just because someone tests a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the definitive representation of who they are.
Take the Myers-Briggs test. Have you ever gotten the same answer after taking it twice? Most likely not. Do you know who created the Myers-Briggs test? A magazine writer named Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers-Briggs who was a mystery novelist.
The two did take inspiration for the work of psychiatrists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, but neither of the women who made the test had any background in psychology. Katherine Briggs just found the subject interesting and after reading Carl Jung’s publication of “Psychological Types,” she thought that his ideas matched her own and in 1943 she and her daughter published their personality test.
When speaking on the MBTI and other tests like it, Adam Grant, a professor of industrial psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School said in an interview with the Washington Post, “What concerns me is the cult-like devotion of many consultants and practitioners to it without the examination of the evidence.”
A person’s traits and personality grow and change throughout their life with the different experiences they go through. Using a test that BUZZFEED could make as an indicator of what a person’s qualities are and what they are likely to achieve in life is just not scientific.
It’s not out of style to be cynical and skeptical about personality tests. Many scientific studies have suggested their lack of accuracy ages ago. In most cases, that is probably true. However, some may argue, “Then why do they feel so right?!”
I took The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) upon hearing about it. After first taking the questionnaire, I had everyone in my life take it if they hadn’t already. More than one was totally freaked out at its accuracy and took it again with the same results.
According to Hile Rutledge, president of Otto Kroeger Associates, a firm that teaches the types to others, the Myers-Briggs stems from the work of Psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. Briggs and Briggs-Myers spent 30 years studying and organizing Jung’s original work. Ultimately, they determined there are 16 personality types based on eight separate mental functions, including four perceiving and four judging functions.
The MBTI, like many other personality assessments, designed in helping to explain why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do.
However, too often people take their results in a predictive, rather than explanatory way. Rutledge said, “It really only tells you how you are wired to take in data, not skills and abilities.”
Another misconception of the MBTI, along with other quizzes, is that type and behavior are two different things. This is often why people complain that they take the test, and it issues a different set of letters each time.
“So, if someone takes the test and says, ‘I took it before, and now the result is different,’ one of the types they got is probably the right one. The other is influenced by their [current] behavior,” said Rutledge. “In the end, only you can determine your type preference.”
Ah, personal choice. When you look at it that way, it’s kind of beautiful, right? At the end of the day, personality tests are fun, informative and sometimes useful. MBTI is an unthreatening way to learn about different personalities.
We can use these quizzes to glimpse at the psyches of our new friends and co-workers. More importantly, we should look at our own results to assess our personal tendencies and weed out what is true and what is false.
Ansleigh Mikesell and Carlee Jo Blumenthal
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