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Personality Types (A Conversation Between Strangers)

    It happened about a week ago. I was scrolling through my Quora Digest feed, which is plagued by MBTI-related answers (I previously subscribed to the topic, thinking from its title that it was about creating fictional characters, but really it was a way of categorizing people), and I decided I wouldn’t put it off any longer. It was time to return to that test I’d scorned years ago, and figure out my personality type. Time to find 16Personalities and answer some simple questions...

    ENFJs are genuine, caring people who talk the talk and walk the walk, and nothing makes them happier than leading the charge, uniting and motivating their team with infectious enthusiasm.” Yeah, no. Only on my best days. So the MBTI is BS, right? Well, not necessarily. I’m more open minded than I was at age 13, and I still get really interested in certain bits of psychology and won’t stop researching them until I reach a (possibly annoyingly) complex conclusion, so I read a little bit about each of the 16 types just in case. Sure enough, the test was wrong and the description for the INFJ type mostly applied to me. (Looking back, I’m between that and an INTJ.) So, time to completely convert to MBTI-ism and tell everyone I know about this magical tool that works perfectly on everyone, right? Well, it’s not that simple, either.

    That’s why I’m writing this article, a “conversation” between Filbert (yup), and Harriet. They are two characters I made out of various opinions I found on the topic. So here I bring you… Personality Types: A Conversation Between Strangers! (Stop being so dramatic, Rosetta.)

FILBERT (source 2): [Ok. So, I took the test, right? It told me I was an INTJ. In a few months, I was the opposite, an ESFP.] As my inconsistent scores foreshadowed, a few months later, the MBTI does poorly on reliability. Research shows “that as many as three-quarters of test takers achieve a different personality type when tested again,” [that’s what] Annie Murphy Paul [says].

HARRIET (source 1): OK, so first of all, you have to look at what test you are taking. Did you have [a certified] MBTI® professional evaluate you? Or did you take a free online test? If you took a free online test, then it’s going to be a whole lot harder to get an accurate result. You might get a few of the letters right, but possibly not all of them. Maybe you answered the questions in a different mood each time. For example, the first time you tested you were concerned with family issues, which gave you a feeler result, and the second time you were more concerned with the stock market, which gave you a mental bent towards thinking. Online tests are imperfect.

FILBERT (source 2): In social science, we use four standards: are the categories reliable, valid, independent, and comprehensive? For the MBTI, the evidence says not very, no, no, and not really.

HARRIET (source 3): [OK, the MBTI is relevant, though.] It was World War II, and Isabel Myers was thinking about peace. War and peace, in fact, are what the family would come to describe as the true cause and effect of developing the Myers-Briggs indicator. World War II created a need for women to fill professional jobs on the home front. Having read Jung’s theories on type, Isabel Myers saw an opportunity to use personality testing as a way to identify women’s job proclivities on the basis of innate character traits rather than prior professional experience, which many women did not have at the time.

FILBERT (source 4): Just because you’re an introvert who likes quiet time and space in the evenings however, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be great in a job where you have to spend your days talking to people. “For recruitment, the test really isn’t suitable because it doesn’t say how you’ll behave and really doesn’t give any indication of how effective you are in your type,” [according to] Dr Bennet.

HARRIET (source 3’s comments): I love knowing that I'm an ENTP and it's helped me significantly in my daily interactions with people, as well as, understand my own behavior. And it gave me an understanding of how others think and process too.

FILBERT (source 3’s comments): Thank God they're finally getting rid of this disgusting attempt to "pin us all, wriggling on the wall." Human beings cannot, and should not, be quantified in this manner. I don't care to work any better with others than I already do, because there is no law that says I have to suffer fools gladly. This is just a giant scam for the Myers-Briggs family to live high on the hog. And all those corporations fell for it! The laugh's on them. Ha ha.

    Ha ha. That got long, wow. So what’s my take on the MBTI? It’s fun, and it works, but not for everything it’s been used for. What tests like these do--whether it’s Pottermore’s Sorting Hat Quiz, What Fruit would You Be?, or Myers Briggs--is tell you a little bit about yourself. If you score as an ISTP (my best friend probably is), you don’t necessarily need constant stimulation, scorn theoretical conversations, and break rules, but you probably are an introverted, sensing, thinking (and feeling), perceiver. Just like your IQ can’t encompass all of your infinite facets of intelligence, your personality type can’t tell you everything about yourself. But it’s interesting to know, and hey, if you want to take the test now, here it is: , have fun.