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Re^2: My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...

by rubasov (Friar)
on Apr 01, 2010 at 14:32 UTC ( #832312=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...
in thread My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...

There are too many tests falling in this category which are just plain crap. However I think the Myers-Briggs test stands out from this pile of crap (eg. the daily bullshit of "what kind of animal would I like to be") since the authors have made serious effort to really measure something.

If you look at the referred wikipedia page, you will find this:

... studies have found strong support for construct validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability, although variation was observed.

And of course you can test it yourself (at least to some extent): just fill in the test found somewhere by google, write down your results (and even your answers to the questions) then forget it. Pick a suitable timeframe (eg. half a year), just make sure you will forget what have you answered the first time, and fill it in a second time. Then ask yourself: Are the results differing from the first time? Which ones differ? The ones that made you hesitate to answer? And so on... (extend your scope of investigation)

After all of this you're probably still inclined to ask: okay it seems to measure something, but what it is?

And for that I don't have a good answer. For instance if I have to measure time (eg. while I finished some of my work) and I follow some procedure (take a stopper watch, start the counter when I started then stop it when I stopped), then do I need to answer the question "What is time?" to be able to use this measurement?

At the end of the day what I want to say is: "psychological measurment is not possible" is not a consequence of "there are gazillions of shitty psychobabble tests". And also not a consequence of "I can cheat while filling in the test".

And I think the Myers-Briggs test is a good candidate of being not shitty.

p.s.: Seeing the results up to now (almost half of the voters chose "I Don't Friggin Care"), I think I will get a lot of negative votes for this node, but I Don't Friggin Care. Reject anything if you want but based on investigation and not on ignorance.

p.p.s.: This answer is not really meant to you, but all the voters of IDFC.


Comment on Re^2: My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...
Re^3: My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...
by nimdokk (Vicar) on Apr 01, 2010 at 17:53 UTC
    I actually agree with you. I wasn't so much thinking about the "What color am I?" or "Which Star Wars character am I?" type of personality quizes that you might find at places like "facebook". I'm thinking more of standardized "inventory" psych tests (some of which I have taken multiple times). My mom worked for a psychologist and used to score some of these tests. Every so often when I was bored, I would sit down and take one of the tests for fun in addtion to when I took them in more formal settings (such as in school). Some of them (not necessarily MBTI mind you) can be open to interpretation and may also be reflective more of a particular point in time. I admit I don't know a lot about MBTI's development but I would think the questions would be set up in such a way to take certain variables into account. I think they may be good guides, but shouldn't be hard and fast "written in stone" interpretations of the results. I'm sure results change as people change both chronologically and emotionally. Thanks for the link to the Wikipedia page. I'd write more but I've got a meeting to head off to :-)
Re^3: My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...
by dk (Chaplain) on Apr 05, 2010 at 08:13 UTC
    Funny you ask "what it is". My best effort of answering that question was, ( and of course the answer made sense for me only, not necessarily to someone else) this. It seems to me that it measures force (in physical sense) which you use for several types of activity (emotional, physical etc). People train with age and experience, and that can explain why boundaries between types are so blurred. But if, as I suspect, it all comes down to how many synaptic connections we've got to emotional core and logical core for example, then it just shows the speed at which we digest different types of information.
Re^3: My Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is ...
by jonadab (Parson) on Apr 12, 2010 at 18:19 UTC
    There are too many tests falling in this category which are just plain crap. However I think the Myers-Briggs test stands out from this pile of crap (eg. the daily bullshit of "what kind of animal would I like to be") since the authors have made serious effort to really measure something.

    They may have made an effort, but they're not measuring what they think they're measuring.

    In the first place, too many of their questions make unwarranted assumptions, and your answer can only mean anything if the assumption happens to hold true for you. This creates a lot of statistical noise.

    Additionally, it's a self-evaluation; if you're going to do that, you might as well just ask the subject "Do you pay more attention to your thoughts or your feelings?" and have done. The answers are going to have more to do with the way people think of themselves than the way they actually are. And I can tell you for free that most people don't think of themselves the way they really are.

    But perhaps the biggest problem is that the four continua they chose are highly arbitrary and wouldn't necessarily form a meaningful description of a person's personality even if the results for each continuum were totally accurate. They don't even attempt to measure the stuff that really shapes the way a person thinks, like whether he makes his decisions based on perceived outcome (teleological) or based on some criterion independent of likely outcome (deontological or cetera), whether he believes in per se truth (as opposed to relative truth), or whether he thinks in sounds (verbal/auditory), pictures (visual), abstract concepts, or some other form.

    It is my considered opinion that Myers-Briggs is completely useless for any serious purpose.

    So yeah, put me down as IDFC.

    And yes, I've been given the test a couple of times. I don't remember what the results were, but I do remember that the whole thing was clearly very arbitrary. Am I an introvert, or an extrovert? I don't remember. I'm not really sure the question applies. I have zero anxiety about talking to strangers one-on-one or in small groups, will walk right up to anyone and say hello, have been known to ask personal questions within two minutes of meeting someone, don't at all mind speaking to a large group, even semi-formally (e.g., classroom setting), will willingly make a fool of myself onstage (e.g., clowning), HATE parties, spend almost all of my free time alone, have a small number of very close friends, have no difficulty saying long-term goodbyes even to the closest of them (including family; at age three I had no anxiety at all about spending two weeks away from my parents), live in my parents' basement (literally), and understand both dogs and computers better than I understand people. Does any of this matter, or set me apart from the rest of the population? Meh. None of that is really even an important part of who I am. Fundamentally, they're asking the wrong questions.

      Introvered vs Extroverted is probably the most rock-solid part of MBTI. However, psychologists are using the terms in a very strict sense, removed from the connotations we normally attach to the terms. Specifically, it's if you take your energy from inside or outside. Under this definition, introverts can get along with people just fine. It's just that they tend to get worn out being with groups for long periods of time and have no problem working alone. They may choose to be with people, but have little psychological need to be with people.

      The other three measures I'm less sure about. While people often feel their personality descriptions are very close to how their actual personality, you can get the same effect using cold reading/Barnum Statements. It's not clearly better than fortune telling.


      "There is no shame in being self-taught, only in not trying to learn in the first place." -- Atrus, Myst: The Book of D'ni.

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