This post is rather different from my previous posts. It’s basically in response to most criticisms of the Myers-Briggs personality tests. It’s important to note that I do disagree with most of theses criticisms, and this post will be more about correcting the flaws in such criticisms, but MB-TI isn’t perfect. There is much that Myers-Briggs gets correct, and there is much that is doesn’t get correct.
Anyways, I hope to address many of the common arguments against MB-TI.
No One is One Personality Type
One common criticism to Myers-Briggs is that most people think that if they’re typed “Introvert” or “Perciever” or “ESTJ” then they can’t be an “Extrovert” or “Judger” or even part “INFP”. As some critics and psychologists have expressed, people don’t “work” this way. People’s minds do not purely possess one trait and not that trait’s opposite. And really, if one person was 100% Introverted, I would imagine that they would have some mental issues.
First of all, terms like “Introvert” or “Sensor” are all just preferences. They’re not concrete, definitive terms like tall vs. short, or young vs. old. They’re not like saying someone is bipolar or has OCD. When I say that I’m introverted, I actually mean that I prefer to be introverted. I can be, and I need to be, extraverted in order to live and grow mentally, however, I feel more comfortable in “introverted settings”.
What most personality tests fail to do is show how much of a type you are, when instead, after you submit you’re results they’ll just say “Congratulations! You’re Type A.” without saying “You’re typed INFP, however, you’re only 75% more Introverted than Extroverted…”.
Some personality tests do accomplish this however, for instance 16 Personalites will type you as one personality type but they’ll make sure to show you how much of that type you really are.
No one can fully be one type or another. As I’ve discussed more in depth in There Are No Opposites in MBTI, each personality type shares something with every other personality type.
Also, everyone is different, and everyone has their own unique personality, so characterizing a billion people into 16 personality types is impossible. However, what Carl Jung, Isabel Myers, and Katherine Briggs saw was that though there are myriads of different personality characteristics, there are many trends and similarities between these different personalities. I believe they were able to successfully find and identify those similar characteristics and identify what we know to be Introversion, Intuition, Judging, etc.
However, if you have trouble relating to what you have been typed so frequently, look more into the cognitive functions of your personality type. If you find most type descriptions to be vague, I can assure you, cognitive functions and cognitive theory are much more detailed and more accurate.
People Aren’t Always Honest With Themselves and Often Don’t Understand Themselves.
Sometimes, when people go to take a personality test, they will often, without realizing it, have a personality in mind that they “want to be”. If they aren’t being truly honest with themselves, they’ll choose answers that are false but answers that may give them the personality they want. For instance, imagine one test asking, “You find it easy to stay relaxed and focused even when there is some pressure.” Some test-takers may want to believe that they are confident under pressure and don’t want to believe they aren’t capable under pressure, even if they aren’t capable. This isn’t the test’s fault for asking questions like this. These question help narrow down what possible personalities the test-taker might have. This is the test-taker’s fault for not being honest with themselves.
And yes, I used to do this, changing my answers because I didn’t want to think, for instance, that I wasn’t capable under pressure. However, I found that the more honest I was with myself I was more likely to end up with a personality profile that I thought truly revealed my personality.
You Can’t Take it Just Once.
Another mistake test-takers make is that they only take the test once and expect that the test will automatically reveal their true personality. However, if the test-takers weren’t being honest with themselves like in the previous point, then they’ll definitely get the wrong result. Also, it helps to take the test multiple times so that the test-taker can get familiar with the questions. And over the course of several tests, they’ll begin to think about a question and think, “You know what I am that way” and answer the questions honestly and correctly. Once they get a consistent personality in the same test or over several different tests, then they’ll know their true personality.
It’s Not All Positive.
One thing that can “turn-off” test-takers is that a few profiles will feature strengths and weaknesses of the personality type. However, no one wants to hear that there are problems with their inherent personality. They want to think that their personality is great, that there are no flaws with their ways of thinking.
That much is true. At least in Myers-Briggs, no way of thinking is better than another. However, that’s just the case. People think that their way of thinking is the best, but it’s not. It may not be flawed, but everyone lacks something that other people have. Thinking that their personality is the best or thinking that their personality is the best is naive.
We all have good thought processes. While INFPs may succeed at coming up with good ideas with “Ne”, INFJs may succeed at bringing group harmony through “Fe”. However, we need to learn that we won’t have all the essential pieces. Does this mean that we need to change our personalities?
No, personality is made up of our preferences. Right here, right now, I am INFP. That is who I am. That is the personality I prefer to be. INFP’s cognitive functions; those are the thought processes I am good at. However, because I know that I am INFP, I can learn what I’m not. With this knowledge, with me knowing my preferences of thinking and processing, I can learn what areas of thinking I can be better at. I will still be INFP. I will still prefer to be that way. But I will be a better person when I can learn to compensate for the areas of personality I lack.
Personality Isn’t Constant.
Finally, another thing that confuses test-takers is inconsistent results. For one, this is most likely because they only took the test once and/or they weren’t being honest in their answers before and changed them the second time around.
However, one should know that if they took the test today and again in six months, they are very likely to get different results than they did today. Personality isn’t constant. Our minds change over experience. Life changing events can take place and completely alter our personalities. If we’re around a certain group of people for a long time, there’s a good chance our personalities will morph in personalities like those of the group of people. Personality isn’t constant.
Overall, a test-taker needs to be honest with him or herself. Admit the flaws in your thinking. However, they aren’t so much flaws as they are just the lacking of certain ways of thinking. There is nothing wrong with your personality. Everyone’s ways of thinking are equal.
Also, take the test many times. Don’t be surprised if your results change every now and then. Once you understand the questions fully and know the honest answers to them, then you will get a consistent result.
Finally, realize that even though you may be ENFJ for instance, you aren’t fully and inherently ENFJ. You still possess certain parts of other personality types. If we all were one-hundred percent our personality types, like if I was one-hundred percent INFP, then we’d all be insane.
Like I said above, MB-TI isn’t perfect. There are still some flaws in it. But from what I’ve found and researched over the years, it gets enough right to be relevant. It can teach one a lot about their personality. I used to think I was shy and was told that was bad. However, MB-TI taught me that I wasn’t shy, I was just introverted.
MB-TI may not be perfect, but it is very accurate and meaningful.