Questioning the Myers Briggs test?

You’re such an ENTJ!

We have always loved to put a label on people, from dragons and water carriers, to Hufflepuffs and Samantha’s. Having someone explain the intricacies of one’s own head seems to bring a slight sense of closure; it is sometimes quite cosy in a box! The Myers Briggs personality indicator is probably the most well-known of these tests. The official test consists of almost 100 questions, which will decide if you are extroverted or introverted, or a thinker vs a feeler, using your answers it will declare that you are 1 of 16 personality types. These range from INTJ (the architect) to ESFP (the entertainer) and they all have equally intriguing names. Versions of this test have been adopted for use in a wide market, from telling you which Game of Thrones character you are, to whether you would be suitable for that high ranking job you have always wanted. 

The test builds upon the ideas of the psychologist Carl Jung, who in 1921 theorised that people fit somewhere within 8 categories. Decades later, a mother and daughter team of writers, with no medical training, decided to expand on Jung’s work. From Jung’s  8 types, the number jumped to 16,strictly-fitting people into single categories with little room for any grey area. 

However, this multi-million dollar business has been shown to have almost no validity, and no modern researchers in the field of psychology would use such a test for any peer-reviewed research. Participants often find themselves in wildly opposing groups when the test is repeated; however as each group is a vaguely described mishmash of attributes, any category could be a reasonable summation of any individual, in a way which is similar to reading your horoscope, this is also known as the Forer effect.

In reality, it turns out that people are complicated. Sometimes you are in one category and sometimes another. But this isn’t a new realisation, even Jung was aware of the nuances of the human psyche, saying this of his own personality types:

“Every individual is an exception to the rule……that this kind of classification is nothing but a childish parlour game”

So………….. which ninja turtle character are you?   

Myth Debunked-A version of this article first featured in The Sunday Times of Malta January 26, 2020

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