I hate Myers-Briggs, because I’m an ISTJ
The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) is a particularly fashionable form of idiocy. People get shipped off to training for work, or worse, personal development courses, and return all starry-eyed, like new initiates into some wacky cult.
It’s frightening how easily people become obsessed with their “type”, sharing it with everyone in earshot at the least excuse, and babbling enthusiastically about how well it describes them. Of course it describes you well, Brainiac – it’s just a digest of your responses to a series of basic questions. If you didn’t think it described you, I’d suspect multiple personality disorder.
And then, of course, there’s the Forer Effect, which is a pretty good fallback if the survey somehow manages to be so badly designed that it isn’t even an accurate reflection of your own responses. Anything that isn’t totally wrong will seem right, just as completely different people can read a horoscope and believe it describes them perfectly.
MBTI-heads even have their own secret cultic code: “I’m an ESTP, but I’m on the cusp of F, and I can function as an ENTP when Jupiter’s in the ascendant or there’s an R in the month. You’re an I, aren’t you? I can tell by your aura.” You can probably tell I’m not a fan.
So far, I’ve been expected to complete a MBTI twice on different courses. I strongly suspect I’ll have to do it again before very long. It’ll tell me that I’m ISTJ (trust me, this is not going to change), and then I’ll have to do lots of stupid exercises about where my skills and preferences lie, and how different personality types will do things differently.
Because obviously, everyone who falls into one of the 16 arbitrary personality types is going to think exactly alike at all times, just as everyone born in a certain month is going to find that a particular day is unusually lucky, or a good time for rekindling lost love, or some such bollocks. Well, I am not a personality type – I am a free man!
The frustrating thing isn’t that this pseudoscience is being taught to (and lapped up by) just about everyone in a senior position in any organisation, nor even that many thousands of working hours are being lost to this waste of time. What drives me absolutely potty is that there’s an important point in there, being swamped by a tidal wave of arsegravy.
We all have different approaches and preferences – this is obvious, and it’s helpful to tailor approaches to the skills and needs of the people we’re working with. But that important truth is discredited by its association with MBTI, and is narrowed by the restrictive use of just four measures.
One of the most important factors in any group is having the right balance between positive and negative people. Eliminate the negative thinkers, and no one notices the obvious flaw in the latest plan; eliminate the positives, and no one comes up with a plan in the first place. This and many other vital factors just aren’t reflected in simplistic Myers-Briggs types.
The understanding that different people respond to various motivations in different ways is fundamental to team working, but the details are a whole lot more complicated than four letters. It takes thought and flexibility to understand someone else’s approach, not a mechanical allocation to one of 16 boxes.
If something similar was run without the horoscope-lite psychology, it could be quite valuable. As it is, it’s just a mess.