“Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.” ― Malcolm X
I’m sure we’ve all wondered what our personality was and taken an online personality test. The one everyone knows about is of course, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The test proposes that there are only 16 personalities that you could have. But does that mean there are only 16 types of people in the whole world? Does that mean that every person with a certain personality type behaves exactly the same? Do they react the same to similar situations? Quite unlikely. I don’t believe that people can be categorised like that. It’s reductionist and simplistic. And yet, it’s one of the most used personality tests in the world. There are posts on here such as “how ENFP’s cope with heartbreak”. Which I think is totally meaningless. And in the workplace it’s used to group people into teams because it is thought that they will work better together, get things done quicker with minimal conflicts. Imagine if an introvert ever worked with an extrovert? Chaos would ensue. Not. It doesn’t take into account individual differences.
I took the test a few weeks ago and I found that my personality type is ENFJ-T, which stands for extraverted (78%), intuitive (78%), feeling (58%), judging (76%), and turbulent (70%). Do you know the definition of turbulent? I googled it – characterised by conflict, disorder, or confusion; not stable or calm. Well, that’s obviously not true. Do you know what else describes ENFJ-T’s? Outgoing, communicative, imaginative, idealistic, sympathetic, organised and ambitious. Maybe those descriptions are kind of true. The test says I’m apparently the protagonist. I don’t know how I feel about that.
I am of the opinion that we can have multiple personalities in different situations. We behave differently around friends, families, lovers, pets and when we are on our own. Personality isn’t static. So categorising a person into one of 16 types isn’t valid or reliable. If you take the test once, you are categorised as one of 16, right? If you take the test again in say, 5 months, you’ll probably be categorised differently depending on what your current life situation is like. There may be something that makes you shut down completely and you’ll be categorised as an introvert, or something else will give you confidence and you’ll be categorised as an extrovert. People change and I don’t believe you can be one type of person your whole life. A lot can happen in a year.
Personality doesn’t fit into an either/or category. It’s not just black and white there are grey areas. People don’t fall into one or the other, there’s a spectrum; people fall in between. And not only that, if you’re interested in taking the test, and you get a result which says you’re introverted, psychology says you will start to behave like an introvert even if you are not, because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to fulfil your role as an introvert. Weird, huh? Three are loads of articles on the Myers-Briggs criticism but maybe, people just don’t read them, including companies and business, otherwise, they would have learned by now. The test has no predictive power. It can’t predict how happy you’ll be in a particular situation or even how you’ll perform at your job. The test was based on Carl June’s theories, and the types were probably based on his experiences of different people.
So, even after all of its criticism by psychologists, the test still persists. It’s fun, interesting and makes you feel happy after taking get it because whichever type you are categorised as, the descriptions are never accurate, yet you get flattering descriptions such as ‘genuine’, ‘responsible’ and ‘sincere’. You’ll never see anything like ‘mean’, ‘angry’ or ‘poor performer’. Here’s the link if you are interested in taking the test. Just know that psychologists have found better (and more reliable) ways of assessing personality, and we should probably stop using this test for serious use. It’s no more valid than your horoscope.