Free Minds & Free Markets

Myers-Briggs Is Bunk: New at Reason

Why doesn't that stop people from taking the enduringly popular personality test?

macrovector/123RFmacrovector/123RFIn the latest issue of Reason, Katrina Gulliver reviews The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre. An excerpt:

The official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can be taken online for $50, but there are plenty of free knock-offs floating around the internet. I took two while writing this review. One says I'm ISTJ. The other typed me as ENTP.

For those who aren't familiar with the phenomenon, the test is made up of statements like "I prefer to stay home rather than go out" and "I prefer a tidy workplace," which the test-taker marks as either true or false. In the end you are assigned to one of 16 possible personality "types," based on the combination of results on four different axes: extroverted/introverted, sensing/intuitive, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. As an ISTJ, I am introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging. Unless I am actually extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving. Whatever any of that means.

The Myers-Briggs test and others like it were huge in the corporate world in the 1980s and '90s. Individuals took them to see what kind of careers they should pursue; H.R. offices used them to decide who to hire or promote. In The Personality Brokers, Merve Emre explores how, precisely, this variety of psychobullshit rune-gazing was born.

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