Remember the ThinkPurpose team role quiz?
Well, turns out I was a racoon.
But ignoring all the distastefulness of categorising people into 16 types in a Buzzfeed style quiz based on bleeding JUNGIAN ARCHETYPES, let’s… Oh, hang on…I CAN’T ignore this idiocy.
If you’ve worked in a large organisation for several years you’ll have done either one or both of Belbin or Myers Briggs “what type of corporate drone are YOU?” quizzes.
They both ask you to rate yourself on questions like…
“Do you prefer quietly reading book OR GOING TO A LOUD PARTY WITH LOADS OF PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW?”
(Can you guess what bit of your personality this is attempting to decide?). Then based on such answers, you’re allotted some type of personality/stereotype that purports to tell you what you’re like at work, and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
My weakness is for crappy personality quizzes like this, so I love them. Or rather, love to hate them, cos Myers Briggs says I’m an INTP which means in all into theoretical cohesion, so if it turns out that it’s GOT NO ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC THEORY BEHIND IT AT ALL, then I’m right up in its face, snarling and that.
Luckily Myers Briggs comes from a rigourous peer reviewed approach to psychology, tested thoroughly in double blind experiments, leading to a robust methodology for analysing and predicting people’s behaviours….No, no, course I’m lying.
It was actually invented by a woman who… read a load of biographies of famous people and divided them into types. Yup. She READ ABOUT PEOPLE, and came up with four different “temperaments”, these form the basis of Myers Briggs. Some woman’s musings on the autobiographical musings of the 1917 version of Kim Kardashion now result in office drones like yourself being categorised a whole century later. During that century the field of psychology has undergone numerous revolutions, all of which had been totally ignored by the Myers Briggs lot.
They found their theory, and they’re sticking with it. This theory of personality types has two main weaknesses, it doesn’t measure what it purports to measure (validity), and it gives different results for the same person on different occasions (reliability). These are pretty much killers for any theory of measurement
There’s lots of references to studies ripping into Myers Briggs, I don’t just stick to Wikipedia, you can have a nice browse in this article on the Smithsonian website which had loads of interesting links.
Ultimately though I dislike it because it’s stupid. It’s stupid, because it’s easy and it fits, despite being wrong. And easy and fitting ALWAYS trump rightness and usefulness in a normal ordinary command and control organisation. It’s a diverting Buzzfeed style “What Hogwarts house are you?” quiz that annoyingly takes in millions from gullible organisations because it diverts attention from the system back yet again onto the people working in it.
One annoying thing with quizzes of this type though is the lingering Barnum effect .
This is the cognitive bias where general or vague descriptions that are seemingly tailored to you are perceived as stunningly accurate. As a fellow human being I too suck at avoiding this, especially when I read this thing that describes what Hell would be like for an INTP like myself. From what you have gleaned of me and my job, Dear Reader, I let you be the judge…
– You are eternally condemned to researching an extremely vapid topic using wildly inaccurate methods, mostly involving interviewing people who have no idea what they’re talking about. [Link]