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.
Interesting blog Audrey!! I also really enjoy doing personality tests online, it is fun to compare them with your friends and see how accurate they can be. However, once, when I was applying for a job, I was asked to fill a Personality Test, at the time it didn’t bother me. Now, if I think back at it I have contradictory feelings and I think that it is not completely fair to hire or judge anyone by looking at these test. Firstly, because as you said our personalities are fluid and we are constantly changing, evolving and learning. Secondly, because these tests are not always so accurate.
Mostly when students have to do MBTI test to choose a school or a future profession, I believe that the result is really limiting the child’s choices, since they could think that a school or profession doesn’t fit them just by seeing the result of a test.
The first time I encountered the MBTI personality test was when I also was taking a career test, though, I wasn’t shared the result of the test, as in which one out of 16 I was. Afterward, I did the test on my own, got the results, and totally disagreed with them. I then decided to retake the test and then I was happy with the results. I was very interested in the whole thing since the website had very long explanations for each type. Though, while I was taking an introductory college psychology class, I found out how, in the scientific field of psychology, the MBTI is actually one of the least reliable personality tests. From my perspective, one of the simplest reasons can be that when someone is answering such questions, we always reflect the idealized self we have in our minds. So, it stops being as accurate as if we were acting out of influence. Though, I still find it very fun to find out the personality types of my friends, discuss it with them and also follow all the MBTI meme accounts on social media. It is such entertainment!
Really interesting post! I hadn’t taken the MBTI test before but I did it after reading this blog post. I got INFP-T and I’m not sure how to feel about it. The questions just reminded me of all the questionnaires I have had to fill in when I first got a psychologist, so it feels like I am being defined by the parts of me that I think are not actually me but are formed by what has happened to me or what is “wrong” with me. I think that companies and universities using this test to determine how well you’d fit in is unfair and not based on anything tangible.
Great post! A fellow INFP here 🙂 I think that personality tests can be great and I really enjoy the memes, however, I think that they can also be limiting. I, for example, caught myself justifying some of my not very smart choices by thinking that that’s just who I am and I shouldn’t push myself. This approach can stop us from growing and overcoming our limits. Personality tests are fun until they actually start to influence your life.
I did not know they used these tests when hiring someone! It feels kind of tricky, because your personality type obviously does not say everything about you. Personally, as a ISFJ myself, I realized that while the personality type does fit me, the way I act and feel about myself changes with who I am hanging out with! I also agree with what Zofia said, I also sometimes justify my actions by saying ‘Oh that’s just because I’m an ISFJ’ and I realized I am also doing it with my zodiac sign saying ‘Sorry, that’s just my inner aries coming out’. But I definitely agree with you that personalities are fluid! I always like to retake tests like these just to have a little confirmation about myself, but of course it can always change!
Interesting post Audrey. I used to do the personality tests all the time, and what I also noticed is that their results were sometimes quite off, and heavily depended on my mood. The last time I took the MBTI test, the result was way different than the one I had taken a few years ago. Also, I think it is really important what you said, to realize that personality is fluid and can change and it is not something that is set in stone.
I know MBTI is flawed and the entirety of humanity cannot be lumped into 16 categories, and we tend to perceive ourselves in a way that may not reflect our ‘true personality’, but categorising ourselves and seeking likeminded people is so much fun! I have done every and all big, well-known personality test, and it’s interesting to see them fluctuate over the years. I have grown up, learned more about myself and my personality, and these tests have actually helped me gain insight in myself! The results should be taken with a grain of salt, and say more about the way you perceive yourself, rather than how your personality actually ‘is’. It’s entertainment at its core, not psychology. (I’m an ENTP btw).
I had a similar experience as you, except I was encouraged by mom to take Higher Level Physics, which also turned out to be a very difficult path for me to take, and it almost made me fail the entire International Baccalaureate… My mom based her idea that this would suit me on a personality test I had taken years before, and I think she is still convinced that this is a very good representation of my personality, however I would argue that it is not. I agree with you that limiting people to these personalities suggest that we dont change much as people, while I think that we do change through our life time quite a lot. I think these tests are also quite flawed as we answer these questions based on how we would like to be or think we are, that it is difficult for us to objectively answer, so that the result becomes what we want ourselves to be and not necessarily exactly what we are like.