Personality Tests and Why the Myers Briggs is MisleadingOn January 11, 2021 by Julia Weber
The Myers Briggs test was created by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s. Initially, the test was designed to fit everyone into eight different personality types, like thinker, feeler, intuitive, and observant. In 1921, Jung published his work as a paper called “Psychology of the Unconscious.” In 1943, mystery writer Isabel Briggs-Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs decided to revise the test into what it is today. Keep in mind that they had no training in psychology to aid them in their quest. They adapted it to include 16 personality types and over 90 questions. They published their work in 1944, and it is still in use today. The only reason the test is still in use is because the industry makes millions each year by charging people for premium results that offer “insight” or greater career opportunities. If it didn’t make any money, there would be absolutely no scientists that backed it, and it would fall out of use.
One reason that the test is so erroneous is because over fifty percent of people who take the test twice just 5 weeks apart get different results each time. To test this theory, I took the Myers Briggs test 2 months after I originally took it, and I ended up with a different personality type. One simple problem with it is that there is no middle ground. You are either an introvert or an extrovert, a thinker or a feeler. In reality, people are a coagulation of everything we learned, and cannot be sorted into such rigid categories.
If the test is so invalid, then you might be wondering why it is so widely used. In simple terms, the test is used so much because it is fun. Evolutionarily speaking, humans used to be in tribes. We enjoyed being in tribes, because the more people that are in your tribe, the higher chance you won’t be eaten by a bear. This is the same reason people love taking buzzfeed quizzes and sorting themselves into Harry Potter houses.
Another trick the Myers Briggs test uses is the forer effect. This basically means that they give vague answers that apply to almost everyone. For example, my result (the second time) was “Debater”. I bet almost everyone watching this right now can at least somewhat relate to that type. I could describe you watching this right now using this effect: You are a driven individual who is independent, but still enjoys spending time with your family and friends. Those statements apply to almost everyone, and if there is a part that you don’t relate to, your mind will ignore it.
One more way the Myers Briggs test tricks your brain is by only giving positive results. Introvert – good. Extrovert – also good. Intuitive, observant – both good. Any result you could get makes you feel accomplished. There are no right or wrong answers, but whatever type you get, you will feel great about how you did.
Based on what we have talked about so far, this just seems like a fun personality quiz, no harm in it, even if it is misleading, I mean look at the quizzes on sites like Buzzfeed. The only real problem is that this test is used in totally inappropriate scenarios like determining what job someone would be suited for, or deciding if someone gets a promotion or not. The validity of this test has been proven to do an abysmal job at predicting people’s success in leadership positions. There is no harm in taking the test for fun, but it should not be used for anything but that. It is inadmissible that here, in 2021, our educators are still requiring us to take this test based on faulty logic and no scientific principles to give us career suggestions. As the original creator of the test, Carl Jung put it, “Every individual is an exception to the rule…This kind of classification is nothing but a childish parlor game.”