I openly mock Myers Briggs, but an INTP would do

Remember the ThinkPurpose team role quiz?

Well, turns out I was a racoon.

Sadly not a COOL RACOON. Just 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…

INTP – 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]

This entry was posted in all wrong, command and control, human brains are weird, psychology, systems thinking, thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to I openly mock Myers Briggs, but an INTP would do

  1. Mark Baker says:

    I love Belbin. Changed my life. My boss used to be permanently on my case to finish up detailed work. After he ran a Belbin he found his staff was mostly starter finishers, but I am his only plant. His attitude to me changed overnight and I get the kind of work I like to do (coming up with ideas and solving problems)
    The main thing is he swallowed the idea his team needs a mix of personality types, ans having me makes it more diverse, so I’m great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a fellow labelled INTP (and introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving psychologist, oh wait…) I relate. Thing about us so-called INTPs is we are sceptical of these kind of things and yet – and here is the irony – we are abnormally fond of taxonomy! Well, so MBTI told me, years ago during counselling training. Infuriatingly, I had just finished a PhD in…taxonomy.


  3. Charles Beauregard says:

    “The company that produces and markets the test makes around $20 million off it each year”: http://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947/myers-briggs-personality-test-meaningless

    Here’s a cool 4 minute video based on the same article for anyone who doesn’t like reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5pggDCnt5M


  4. Charis Croft says:

    I know all the failings of Myers-Briggs, and that it’s not ‘real’….and I generally LOATHE these ‘putting people into boxes’ things, but…..

    I actually found Myers Briggs made my life better. Perhaps any sort of approach that encouraged reflection would do it, but the facilitator we had when I ‘got’ it used to help us understand that other people were different and that’s ok… I had genuinely never really ‘got’ that some people genuinely preferred being impulsive and weren’t just chronically disorganised.

    Also, the introvert/extrovert split in it IS more evidence based and has hugely and genuinely helped me and more so friends of mine, who are introverts, to accept themselves and not think of themselves as defective. So that’s positive.

    I guess that the important thing is to understand people. And as long as you take time to do that, and don’t take any one system too literally, anything that helps you with that is going to have some benefits.

    (Yes, ok, that could also apply to astrology. And….well… I suppose so. Just the ‘don’t take it too literally’ adage has to be quite liberally applied in that case!)


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Interesating, bit like Mark baker above, found it personally useful.
      PERHAPS it’s like with the i Ching. You cast runes or whatever, to get a tangram that you then use to meditate or think about. The process behind it is nonsense, but the act itself of thinking on nicely written words, it might help.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Charis, do you remember what four letters you were?
      Cos this is weird, two regular commenters and “sharers” of this blog have said in these comments that they’re INTP, as allegedly am i.
      According to some brief googling only 1% are INTP, so I’m interested now.


  5. bitter and twisted says:

    I was skeptical about Myers Briggs till i read this:



    • ThinkPurpose says:

      haha! thats brilliant.
      heres me, an INTP

      The Germans have a word for INTPs, and it is “Besserwisser”. It means someone who thinks they know better. The INTPs are sore losers and very much adherents to the “once burned, twice shy” mentality. Unfortunately, as many (if not all) personalities on this scale they do not understand that others do not function like they do. This trait is extra extra pronounced in the INTP, who cannot understand the idea of anyone wanting to do something they have already done.

      The INTP adores factoids and often does not check whether a tiny piece of information or statistic is correct, they just love that it is a tiny piece of informations. This gets many of them working with computers. Badumdum-pshh.

      If you give a task to an INTP, do not expect it done. They will likely fret over completely the wrong shit and then do the opposite of what you asked. They can’t actually finish anything, so they are worthless academically or professionally, but they will beat you in Trivial Pursuit. They will bloody slaughter you in Trivial Pursuit, and they will gloat about it and they will repeat the exchange that happened when you lost, they will say “and I asked you this and you thought it was that,” and all this is because of two facts that you need to know about INTPs.

      They identify strongly with Trivial Pursuit because that is their life in a nutshell, metaphorically.
      They’ve heard of humour, but only in the abstract, dissecting-a-frog-way.
      The totem animal for INTP is a crab. An ugly, foul-smelling crab who believes itself to be a princess.


      • Charles Beauregard says:

        I came out as INTP too. Apparently Einstein also would have done, so we are all the same as him.


        • ThinkPurpose says:

          See, now this concerns me. Not the Einstein but this here….

          I read it, and it’s ONLY BLEEDING ME ISN’T IT
          Is it the Barnum Effect at play? Cos cognitive biases, despite the word cognitive, are NOT cold RATIONAL flaws, they FEEL right when they’re actually wrong.
          So I was reading that, getting more and more wide eyed at it, and thought, hang on, this is how you’re SUPPOSED to feel when you’re recognising something, whether that something is there or not.
          So, anyway now I’m stumped


  6. Knowledge of MBTI and Jungian archetypes was most useful to me when embarking on the process of individuation, especially towards the later stages. The individuation process is to the individual what Spiral Dynamics is to the collective.


    Before individuation: INxJ
    After individuation: xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sturob23 says:

    We’ve just got on board with lifestyles inventory – costing the taxpayer millions probably.


  8. leslie says:

    I guess it would make a little more sense to you if you hadn’t been told you were an INTP, since CLEARLY you’re an INTJ. Now you can stop holding back and really pollute everyone’s positive atmosphere with your endless tirade of all the things that annoy you, every single day, because everyone and everything is just so goddamn STUPID!


  9. posiwid4me says:

    Great post though rather bizarre how similar in profile those interested in systemsy stuff seem to be. I am actually more a fan of the myers-briggs/popular sci fi combo such as http://geekologie.com/2013/12/star-wars-characters-myers-briggs-person.php. So Yoda your myers-briggs type is…


  10. reflectfromthemountain says:

    By coincidence I saw this article on LinkedIn today. It’s about MBTI by Adam Grant: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130917155206-69244073-say-goodbye-to-mbti-the-fad-that-won-t-die?trk=v-feed


  11. dambot says:

    If you convert the MBTI 4 letter codes into binary numbers, maintaining the same order, with 0 being the first alphabetically in each pair, then i’m B (in hexadecimal).
    MBTI is a model which facilitates information storage about the human data point aggregations and is therefore useful.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      My first is in egg but not in chicken. etc
      Ive got NO chance of solving that. B=11! other than that, I’m noping out


      • dambot says:

        1011=INTP (goes without saying given everyone else)


        • Dambot says:

          I went for an interview with vanguard more than 10 years ago and must have put intp in my application. An important woman who called me for interview said that John Seddon was an intp, and the chief interviewer (his initials are JC on the vanguard website) said that he was too. Him – do you have notebooks scattered around you house full of ideas never completed or realised? Me – yes. Him – me too. Although I can see in retrospect that the role was not at all fitted for an intp.


          • bitter and twisted says:

            But thats the single worst thing about Myers Briggs and other personality test shite.
            The idea that a job* fits a personality.


            • dambot says:

              i reckon I could get a better person-fit for a job using MBTI (or just about any other personality model) rather than using a trad application form and interview. And a lot more quickly. And a lot more cheaply. Regarding that Vanguard job. It was primarily teaching, advising, supporting, encouraging, being pleasant and collegiate etc. The stuff of INTP nightmares.


  12. Bob Ainsworth says:

    Quite recently we had some ‘guru’ in to the office to train us on a ‘technique’ on how to speak to a person that fell into one of 4 categories. Such things as ‘the loyal follower’, ‘the person who knows what they want’ etc.

    It is now ingrained into the way we work and skeptical as I am (very), I knew it was a ton of bullshit. I shudder to think how much this cost to implement.


  13. Bob Ainsworth says:

    My current employer spent a large sum of money and brought in a consultant who explained how our customers belong to one of 4 types and how we should speak to them.

    Suffice to say I had to endure the bullshit training sessions and take part and we have now implemented it into the training that new starters receive and also our yearly ‘lets put some shit onto paper about what you need to do in the year, and then file it’ review.


  14. Oh look, someone did only the part of the research on typology they need to have proof to shit on it. MBTI was based off of Jung’s cognitive functions, which ARE quite the revolution in its era.

    The MBTI test itself may be a pile of crap (especially on 16personalities), but it stands on solid foundation. I see why you want to criticise it, but if you do yourself a favour and research it more thoroughly, you’ll see that it makes sense when you use it as an easier way to categorise the functions.
    Hating MBTI changes nothing, it only changes you from INTP to TiNe.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      They WERE quite the revolution in its era, Jung I mean. Like Freud. And like Freud they are no part of modern psychological thinking. They fail to replicate, they fail at predicting, they fail because the model is an inaccurate model of human thinking.
      MBTI and Jung are poo.


  15. Charles Beauregard says:

    Apparently Dave Snowden did some research which found astrology more accurate than MBTI: http://www.bosslevelpodcast.com/dave-snowden-on-complexity-theory-and-astrology/


  16. Philip Oakley says:

    An alternative (post facto reflective) view of Myers-Briggs is that it is to provide *too many* different personality types than the Miller Magic Number 7+/-2 limit, so it means that the managers taking teh test can socialise and chat about what their magic code was without it (the result) being of any true value (beyond the self belief bias).

    For a more fun Management Theory type, have a look at Quinn’s Competing Values Framework (CVF), and see if your company/organisation is missing the aforementioned competing value. I first heard about this at an engineering lecture given by someone from the management school who noted that (the original) intenet banks (with all the funny names) were always *independent* divisions of the banking group that owned them.

    The CVF possible also explains how marraiges can diverge into conflict.
    (Extra points for those realising we always want to place things in quadrants 😉


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