MBTInaccurate?

Time for some due diligence on my part.

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “strong proponent” of the MBTI personality type system. I’ve scored differently almost every time I’ve taken it, yet there is definitely a comforting draw to getting a result that you feel is you, and running with that. For instance, I most recently scored INFJ, which based on its description, I was quite happy to say “yeah that’s definitely me”. I even included MBTI in my from Nerd Nite earlier this year. I’d even tacked it onto my Twitter bio (which I will now remove).

The James Randi Educational Foundation just posted the link to a Business Insider article titled . In the spirit of good journalism, I wanted to share, and highlight a few parts of the article.

The Myers-Briggs personality test is entrenched in business culture. It’s A full  use it.

Cambridge University professor Brian Little says another main reason for the test’s ongoing success is that it’s been “marketed brilliantly.” But, of course, “you have to have something of merit in order to market well.” The merits are there: Little says that the test gives people the chance to discuss their preferences and personality in the workplace — a conversation that otherwise gets crowded out. This makes people available to insight into themselves.

There’s no doubt it’s marketed brilliantly, and as I’ve seen in many other cases, the first program or organization of a given type, with a certain message, will tend to become the most well-known and popular, even if it’s not the best.

As well, the test is decidedly positive. Unlike other psych measurements, the Myers-Briggs doesn’t separate people into adaptive or maladaptive, functioning or dysfunctional, stable or neurotic.

Yet identifying that you’re a particular “type” of person — introvert or extrovert, for example — is both a strength and a weakness, Little says. The strength is that people find it fascinating. The weakness is that it’s limiting.

With this being used in a work and professional context primarily, this shouldn’t be that surprising. You don’t really want results that are discouraging or demotivational to employees. Not everyone will take slight hurdles and approach them with the will to overcome and improve. Many people do just take their label and live in it’s shadow.

Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant criticizes the either/or approach of the system. that you can both be a thinker and a feeler; in fact most thoughtful people also spend lots of time feeling emotion. When I scored as a thinker one time and a feeler one time, it’s because I like both thinking and feeling,” . “I should have separate scores for the two.”

I like this idea. And it fits in along with the same idea for gender, that it’s not a binary, it’s a series of sliding scales. You can be both masculine and feminine, just as you can be both thinking and feeling, at the same time. It’s not a zero sum thing.

Philosopher Roman Krznaric that if “you retake the test after only a five-week gap, there’s around a  that you will fall into a different personality category compared to the first time you took the test.” This is bad news for the test’s reputation, given that replicability is an essential part of scientific inquiry.

As I said, this has been my experience. I’ve scored at least 4 different ways on the test, including scoring extraverted once, even though I know I’ve always been an introvert at heart.

In her scathingly illuminating book “,” journalist Annie Murphy Paul writes that “no personality type test has achieved the cult status of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator,” which is unfortunate, given that “.”

The article also goes on to point out that most of the studies or articles that support the validity of the test are not from unbiased sources:

“Myers-Briggs proponents like to point to the more than 7,800 studies that they say have been conducted on the MBTI. But a significant number of these articles were published in specialty publications like “The Journal of Psycholigical Type,” “MBTI bluehost News,” and “TypeWorks.” Many others appear in books produced by CPP, the Indicator’s distributor. And most research on the Myers-Briggs is concerned with exploring applications for the test — not with proving or refuting its basic legitimacy.”

An interesting alternative way to look at it:

When people pursue their personal projects, they’re able to act in ways that fall outside the prescriptions of their “type.” The extrovert acts like an introvert to study for the LSAT; the curmudgeonly manager acts like an angel to impress his wife’s parents.

So, what is the alternative? Well, according to the article, one personality type test has in fact passed the rigours of scientific testing, and that is the , known by the acronym OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeablness, and Neuroticism).

So, when you read my older post titled “INFJ problems”, try to ignore the MBTI part.

Care to share your thoughts?