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  • In 1942, a mother-daughter duoKatharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myersdeveloped a questionnaire that classified people's personalities into 16 types.

  • Called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, it would go on to become one of the world's most widely-used personality tests.

  • Today, personality testing is a multi-billion-dollar industry used by individuals, schools, and companies.

  • But none of these tests, including the MBTI, the Big Five, the DiSC assessment, the Process Communication Model, and the Enneagram, actually reveal truths about personality.

  • In fact, it's up for debate whether personality is a stable, measurable feature of an individual at all.

  • Part of the problem is the way the tests are constructed.

  • Each is based on a different set of metrics to define personality.

  • The Myers-Briggs, for instance, focuses on features like introversion and extroversion to classify people into personality "types" while the Big Five scores participants on five different traits.

  • Most are self-reported, meaning the results are based on questions participants answer about themselves, so, it's easy to lie.

  • But even with the best intentions, objective self-evaluation is tricky.

  • Take this question from the Big Five:

  • How would you rate the accuracy of the statement, "I am always prepared"?

  • There's a clear favorable answer here, which makes it difficult to be objective.

  • People subconsciously aim to please.

  • When asked to agree or disagree, we show a bias toward answering however we believe the person or institution asking the question wants us to answer.

  • Here's another question:

  • "What do you value more, justice or fairness?"

  • "What about harmony or forgiveness?"

  • You may well value both sides of each pair, but the MBTI would force you to choose one.

  • And while it's tempting to assume the results of that forced choice must somehow reveal a true preference, they don't.

  • When faced with the same forced-choice question multiple times, the same person will sometimes change their answer.

  • Given these design flaws, it's no surprise that test results can be inconsistent.

  • One study found that nearly half of people who take the Myers-Briggs a second time only five weeks after the first get assigned a different type.

  • And other studies on the Myers-Briggs have found that people with very similar scores end up being placed in different categories, suggesting that the strict divisions between personality types don't reflect real-life nuances.

  • Complicating matters further, the definitions of personality traits are constantly shifting.

  • The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung who popularized the terms introvert and extrovert defined an introvert as "someone who sticks to their principles regardless of [the] situation" and an extrovert as "someone who molds their self according to circumstance".

  • Introversion later came to mean shyness, while an extrovert was someone outgoing.

  • Today, an introvert is someone who finds alone time restorative, an extrovert draws energy from social interaction, and an ambivert falls somewhere between these two extremes.

  • The notion of an innate, unchanging personality forms the basis of all these tests.

  • But research increasingly suggests that personality shifts during key periods, like our school years or when we start working.

  • Though certain features of a person's behavior may remain relatively stable over time, others are malleable, molded by our upbringing, life experiences, and age.

  • All of this matters more or less depending on how a personality test is used.

  • Though anyone using them should take the results with a grain of salt, there isn't much harm in individual use, and users may even learn some new terms and concepts in the process.

  • But the use of personality tests extends far beyond self-discovery.

  • Schools use them to advise students what to study and what jobs to pursue.

  • Companies use them decide who to hire and for what positions.

  • Yet the results don't predict how a person will perform in a specific role.

  • So, by using personality tests this way, institutions can deprive people of opportunities they'd excel at or discourage them from considering certain paths.

  • So, what about the infamous Rorschach inkblot test?

  • How does the test work?

  • And does it really work at all?

  • Find out where the test comes from and how psychologists use it with this video.

In 1942, a mother-daughter duoKatharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myersdeveloped a questionnaire that classified people's personalities into 16 types.

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How do personality tests work? - Merve Emre

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/08/19
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