Standardized tests for decades have been used to screen out weak students to find students with “potential”. A student who scores well on the SAT’s in America has a good chance at a good college which potentially means that they could land a good career or if they also scored well on the GRE, LSAT, MCAT or GMAT a good graduate school.
However I’m not discussing these standardized tests since, although there are flaws, the logic behind their predictive power is fairly reasonable – having a good grasp of the English language is important when you’re studying in America. I’m talking about the MBTI, Meyers Briggs Typology Indicator, which is commonly used to place people into careers, test relationship capability, and education. Unlike the SAT, GRE, etc. the MBTI not only has a shaky foundation but is not a reliable indicator for many reasons.
So what is the MBTI? The MBTI is a test that assess a person based off of dimensions, E vs I (extrovert or introvert), N vs S (intuitive vs sensing), T vs F (thinking vs feeling), and J vs P (judging vs perceiving). Depending on how you score you are given a four letter code which corresponds with one of 16 personality types. These personality types act differently, have different interests and have different career paths. For example I am an INTJ. This personality type is characterized by intellectualism, strategic planning and being aloof to all things emotional.
I was required to take this test every time I sought career advice from career counselors – we millennials need and would like good career advice. The career advice I had gotten was always built around this test. Also, to clarify things, I was once a very strong proponent of the MBTI.
So now that we have that out of the way – what are my arguments against MBTI?
First, there is no proof for the MBTI. In sciences, if an idea has a good amount of proof it is called a theory – if not it is a hypothesis, theories can always be disproved, unless we’re talking about math theorems. The MBTI has no evidence or proof for the dichotomies such as I and E – in fact its possible for people to be both introverted and extroverted – its also very possible for people to be very rational at times and very emotional at other times. Which leads to the next issue.
Second, the MBTI will give you different results. I scored INTJ all three times I’ve taken the MBTI since I remembered how to score INTJ (you pick the asocial options, then the rational options, then – you get my point) but my first roommate got different results each type he took it, one time it was INTJ, another time it was ISTP.
Third, due to the lack of proof and inconsistencies, it isn’t used by reputable psychologists for assessments or research.
Finally these are my personal reasons for not trusting the MBTI
According to this test there are only 16 types of people on this world. Out of all the billions of people on this world, I refuse to believe that we all fit neatly into these 16 molds.
According to this test there are careers that are off limits to someone just becomes they scored the wrong personality. I believe that as humans we have agency over ourselves and why the hell should I believe that because I’m a certain “personality type” I would not fit with a specific job? I’d believe it more if I wasn’t suit for a job because I didn’t have the skills rather then the “personality”.
I also refuse to believe that because I scored, INTJ, I’m not sociable or gregarious, that I don’t understand emotions, that I’m make a bad partner because I cannot feel, that I’m naturally rebellious towards authority and structure – the list goes on and on. I actually love socializing, I love art and music that hit me emotionally and I – actually have no issues with structured environments – I only have issues with stupid leaders (face it we all hate stupids leaders).
I’ve hated meeting people who tell me things like, “Leo, I have a hard time finding a girlfriend because I score INTP or INTJ” or “Leo, I can’t be good at sciences because I’m ESFP or whatever!” because honestly I know they can rise above those labels. In fact my INTJ colleague believes that statement so much that he doesn’t even bother approaching women. That’s what is called a self fulfilling prophecy not proof that the MBTI is accurate.
I’ve also met ENTJs who believe that because they scored ENTJ they automatically are great leaders and decision makers – even if they have no skills, training or education commensurate with leadership.
These labels are potentially dangerous.
In conclusion, I see the MBTI as fun entertainment like those personality quiz you take online and challenge friends with. However I believe that this test should not be used to determine one’s future prospects.
These are my opinions, let me know what you think in the comments. Keep in mind I’m an MBA student not a Psychologist.
Image was taken from wikimedia commons: here