When I was in 10th grade right before we started the International Baccalaureate (IB) program where we needed to choose subjects ourselves, we had something called a “career prospect day”. This was a day where the school invited people working from a variety of different fields of jobs, and we had a chance to listen to a presentation where they explained what their job was like. This was the same day when I took the MBTI – or Myers Briggs personality test for the first time. After taking the test, I sat in front of a career consultant with mom to talk about the result I got and which IB courses would be the most suitable for me.
After the consultation, the counsellor gave me a list of classes that she thought I would enjoy, and higher level chemistry was one of them. Fast forward to my first week of IB chemistry, I realised I actually suck at chemistry and I received the lowest mark on that class when I finished high school. Though I don’t remember what MBTI I got back then, this was an obvious evidence that MBTI is not the most reliable test.
I’ve noticed that I see more and more MBTI related posts on my instagram feed in recent years. I do personally enjoy them a lot and I searched for a handful of MBTI related contents on the internet myself. I even started asking my friends and family what their MBTI was, and made them take the test when they didn’t know theirs. It actually made me understand why I had conflicts with some people, and I was able to understand where they were coming from. For example, I used to get upset when my mother always tried to provide solutions to my problems instead of relating to my emotions. However, after finding out that the third letter of her MBTI was a “T” (thinking-oriented), I understood why she wasn’t able to relate as much as me, who was a “F” (feeling-oriented).
MBTI was fun and all till then. The time when I realised that categorising people may be a problem was when I found an MBTI compatibility chart, which was a chart showing which MBTI type is most and least compatible with other types. This reminded me of a concept of neo-tribalism, which is a concept which explains the tendency of humans to form groups according to the similarities they share. The issue I believe with this is that it is so easy to create an “us” versus “them” perspective, creating unnecessary conflicts.
Though it is true that MBTI is a great way for people to understand themselves and others, it is now not only used for fun and memes. According to The Myers Briggs Company, “more than 88 % of Fortune 500 companies, as well as hundreds of universities, use it (MBTI) in hiring and training”. This makes companies and universities favor few specific personality types, which can lead to an alienation and self hatred for those who don’t fit into these categories.
People’s personalities are fluid and constantly change. Limiting people to only one of 16 categories and thinking that it is going to be fixed for their entire life can be problematic thinking. Even for me, although I’ve had the same personality type for the last few years – INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Prospecting) – the spectrum of these personality traits changes constantly, even within a few months. In my opinion, MBTI, or any other personality tests should be taken with a grain of salt.