When I discovered the Myers and Briggs’ theory of personality typing, I was filled with so much excitement over what it meant to me and my friends and family. I couldn’t wait to study those around me and figure out their ‘types’, and understand and interact with them better. However, because I’m still a skeptic at heart, I have always wanted to know the arguments against personality typing like this. Here are the two major arguments you’ll see against the Myers and Briggs’ theory or personality typing in general:
1. Nobody is either 100% introverted or extroverted, everyone is a little of each. For this reason, personality typing is flawed.
2. Upon retesting, people are getting different results 5 months later. Therefore, personality typing is flawed.
Okay, so let’s start with argument #1. The funny thing is, if anyone researched Myers and Briggs’ theory deeply enough, they would see that it never categorizes people as being 100% introverted or 100% extroverted. In fact, nobody is 100% a feeler or 100% a thinker. Once you really get down to the cognitive functions, which are the core of the personality typing, you will see that everyone has extroverted, introverted, thinking, feeling, sensing, intuitive, perceiving, and judging functions.
Wait a minute? But I’m an ESTJ! This means I’m an Extrovert, Sensor, Thinker, Judger, right?
Only partially right. The truth is, if you’re an ESTJ, this means that you have the following:
A – Extraverted Thinking (a judging function)
B – Introverted Sensing (a perceiving function)
C – Extraverted Intuition (a perceiving function)
D – Introverted Feeling (a judging function)
As you can see, as an ESTJ you are more than just extrovert/sensor/thinker/judger. You have introverted and extraverted functions, you have thinking and feeling functions, and sensing and intuitive functions. All the test has concluded is that your thinking function is more dominant than your feeling function, that your sensing function is more dominant than your intuition function, and that your dominant function is extraverted instead of introverted.
To find out more about what these functions all mean, you can check out this link.
As for me personally, I am an INFJ. This means that I’m an introvert, but my second most dominant function is extraverted feeling. Because of this, INFJs can sometimes be mistaken for extroverts. We want to understand people, make them feel good, at ease, and so on. If I’m in a room and there is an awkward silence, I will be aware of it and try to change the mood to be more ‘harmonious’. If I was the stereotypical introvert, I’d want to be alone all the time. However, most healthy introverts will want some time socializing, so they can use their auxiliary extraverted functions. So no, nobody is 100% introverted or 100% extroverted. The true MBTI® test will just show you if you prefer extraversion over introversion. It will show you what you extravert, and what you keep more hidden.
Five months ago I tested as an ISFJ and now the test says I’m an ISTJ! What’s that about? Doesn’t this mean the test is flawed?
OK, so first of all, you have to look at what test you are taking. Did you have acertified MBTI® professional evaluate you? Or did you take a free online test? If you took a free online test, then it’s going to be a whole lot harder to get an accurate result. You might get a few of the letters right, but possibly not all of them. Maybe you answered the questions in a different mood each time. For example, the first time you tested you were concerned with family issues, which gave you a feeler result, and the second time you were more concerned with the stock market, which gave you a mental bent towards thinking. Online tests are imperfect. They can point you in the right direction a lot of times, but to get a real accurate understanding of your type, you really should read about the cognitive functions
and figure out which ones you use the most. Learning your personality type can be incredibly helpful to you, but only if you understand correctly which type you truly are. The best way to do this is to study the cognitive functions, preferably with somebody who knows you well. This way, if you’re unsure, they can help you with it since they’ve seen you from an outside perspective. Figure out which of the functions you relate to the most.
But I really want to take the online test! It’s so much easier!
It definitely is! The online tests can help to point you in the right direction, just don’t be too hasty to take their result as 100% fact. If you get a result, read the description of your type profile and see if it matches up with who you feel you are. Can you relate to it? Try reading the profiles of other types that are similar and see if one of them matches you better.
Keep in mind, everyone has the ability to use all the cognitive functions, the MBTI® Indicator simply tells you what your natural preferences are. You’re a thinker AND a feeler, but which do you prefer over the other.
Ben Newman, a senior HR business partner at a leading financial services organisation, had this to say about the functions; “The most useful analogy is that MBTI is like a house with 16 rooms. Anyone can move into any of the rooms at any time. Your preference might be the bedroom, it might be the basement. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t do the others. Myers-Briggs simply suggests that there will be a room above all the others that suits you and you feel comfortable in. People really get that.”
I hope this helps you figure out where you stand on the whole personality typing debate. If you’re new to Myers and Briggs’ theory and have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll be posting more soon about personality typing for beginners and tips on discovering your type.
Do you have an argument for or against personality typing? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to respond as soon as possible!