Saturday, September 21, 2013

Goodbye to Myers Briggs, the Fad That Won't Die

I wish all the colleagues I worked with at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in the 1980's and 90's could read this article.  Not that Trinity was unique--the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is more sacred than Moses' two tablets in Episcopal circles.  But it seemed to be a particular obsession of some of my colleagues in those already mentioned decades.  Well it seems that yesterday's infallible personality test is today's Azande chicken divination.  From the Huffington Post, where there is more:
My name is Adam Grant, and I am an INTJ.  That's what I learned from a wildly popular personality test, which is taken by more than 2.5 million people a year, and used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies.  It's called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and my score means that I'm more introverted than extraverted, intuiting than sensing, thinking than feeling, and judging than perceiving.  As I reflected on the results, I experienced flashes of insight.  Although I spend much of my time teaching and speaking on stage, I am more of an introvert -- I've always preferred a good book to a wild party.  And I have occasionally kept lists of my to-do lists.

But when I took the test a few months later, I was an ESFP.  Suddenly, I had become the life of the party, the guy who follows his heart and throws caution to the wind.  Had my personality changed, or is this test not all it's cracked up to be?  I began to read through the evidence, and I found that the MBTI is about as useful as a polygraph for detecting lies.  One researcher even called it an "act of irresponsible armchair philosophy."  When it comes to accuracy, if you put a horoscope on one end and a heart monitor on the other, the MBTI falls about halfway in between.
Read it all.

6 comments:

Dale Matson said...

Dr. Munday,
The validity and reliability of the MBTI are akin to phrenology.
Fr. Dale Matson Ph.D. retired psychologist

Jill said...

Yes, but if you read it in the Huffington Post, is it necessarily so? ;)

Robert S. Munday said...

Jill, Good question. The Huffington Post isn't exactly an impartial news source. But, as a southern friend of mine used to say, "Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while."

The Underground Pewster said...

The INTJ in me wants to study this further before making any judgment public.

The Rev Canon David Wilson said...

Hi Robert

I remember the MBTI gurus at TSM w/o mentioning any names! I have always found the MBTI results to be interesting and thought provoking and great conversation pieces as well as excuse makers. My wife says that evangelical Protestantism tends to force introverts (like her) into becoming extroverts -- at least that was her experience at TSM.

I think the HEXACO personality indicator that Grant mentions seems to correct some of the flaws in the MBTI

Jill said...

Funny, Pewster! ;)