Myers-Briggs and Other Personality Tests as Junk Science

I’ve posted about the Myers-Briggs test on this blog before and I’ve referenced it occasionally when talking about my own personality or the personality of others.

But the more I read about Myers-Briggs and other similar personality tests, the more I’ve come around to thinking of them like I think of handwriting analysis – a fun parlour game but probably not something that will hold up to any amount of scientific scrutiny.

There’s a lot of dangers in endorsing these unscientific personality tests – from giving endorsement to pseudo-science when you’re otherwise trying to act in an evidence-based manner to making it easier for others to dismiss your points (“Well, of course he feels that way – he’s an ENTJ”) or to stereotype you (“Oh, introverts never want to go out.”)

For something like the True Colours test (basically a more simplified version of the Myers-Briggs test) which reveals whether you’re a Blue (“Feeler”), a Red (“Doer”), a Yellow (“Planner”) or a Green (“Analyser”), I think it might work better to come at the idea from a slightly different angle.

Instead of putting people in boxes as “Red” or “Blue” (or even “Red with shades of Blue”), you’re better off to not just recognize but re-focus on the idea that everyone’s personality manifests in “Shades of Grey” depending on the day, our own personal situation, who we’re interacting with and so on.

Of course, with all of that said, I’ve come up with my own personality test which is even simpler than True Colours’ four categories.

It goes like this:

If you are interesting and collegial and considerate to others and can crack the occasional joke while also sincerely trying to take into account as many factors within and beyond your control as you go about your work, I’ll happily work with you no matter your Myers-Briggs result, your True Colour or your astrological sign.

On the other hand, if you regularly treat other people with disrespect, if you are self-centered, if you dismiss the ideas of others, if you do poor work, I don’t care what about your Myers-Briggs result, your True Colour or whether you put too much pressure on the paper when you write, I’m not going to get too excited if we have to work together.

I call my personality test “Decent Human” and it applies to everyone. 😉

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