by Catherine Gonzalez ’22
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator captivates many with its succinct personality groupings, explanations of their tendencies, and many opportunities for applying them. However, variables like lack of consistency in personal results, the test’s psychology, and how well it evaluates one’s preferences, can make its accuracy questionable.
To what extent can the MBTI be relied upon? Let’s consider the following evaluations of the above shortcomings:
To begin with, the amount of change in individuals’ results have ranged greatly in size and time between retakes.
Life-changing events, such as a new relationship or job, commonly bring out the different sides of people. Simply getting older can lead to personality changes too.
“As we grow more comfortable with our sense of self, our personality can change as well to match how we see ourselves,” psychologist Romeo Vitelli said.
The human brain stops developing at age 25. According to Psychology Junkie’s Susan Storm, that is when “inferior functions begin to develop; younger ages generally reveal more drastic personality changes.”
Another debatable factor of the Myers-Briggs test is its organization of human personalities into sixteen orderly types.
Some test variations reveal individuals’ percentages in one preference category over another, refraining from labeling them.
The test, however, was created from concepts and ideas rather than science. Psychologist Dr. Ronald E. Riggio said the judging versus perceiving preference was created for the test itself.
The MBTI is primarily used in the workplace and relied upon religiously, often limiting employees to their received letters.
An anonymous worker in a study on Myers-Briggs found that “people very often say something like ‘Erm, I think that I am not just a T or an F. Can I be somewhere in the middle?’ And my colleagues will patiently explain that you must be one or the other.”
As for what is really being evaluated, the questions that lead to each MBTI aspect can provide accurate results, but the fewer there are, the more one’s result becomes a generalization.
For example, when evaluating test takers on how extroverted versus introverted they are, the test asks an “x” amount of questions on how social versus anti-social a person is.
Different versions of the Myers-Briggs test range in question amount, but the more questions there are, the more accurate a person’s results will be.
So what’s the takeaway? Personally, I find that the Myers-Briggs test provides insight into a person’s personality and tendencies, and also assists one in empathizing with others. I consider personality changes to be a natural part of life and the questions to be sufficient in determining one’s particular preference over another.
However, I must conclude that if regarded devotedly, the potential open-mindedness that can be gained from the test cannot be achieved.
Many have taken this test in school, and I see no problem with that; it gives the teacher and other classmates a general sense of who you are. However, the moment that labels come into the mix is when the test becomes harmful. Therefore, the letters, in regards to people, ought to be taken with a grain of salt.
Nothing’s stopping me from applying these to fictional characters, though!