I like that test, but I think I've found a problem with it- a couple in fact.
I was playing around with one of the most popular personality tests around tonight, as I do every once in a while just to keep tabs on myself.
And on the first take I got a completely unprecedented result that sparked a lot of thought for me.
Now, little background for those of you who've never seen the MBTI
before. Basically it measures four
1. whether you are an introvert or an extrovert,
2. whether you perceive the world through your senses or through your intuition,
3. whether you judge the world by thought or by feeling,
and 4. whether your perception or your judgement is your most outward characteristic (in other words, if you are outwardly a perciever, then your most
noticeable trait is either your intuition or your sensory observation. if you are outwardly a judger, your most noticeable trait is either your
thinking or your feeling.)
Basically the way scores break down is this:
Your method of perception and method of judgement are the heart of your personality according to the test. There are four possibilites: Intuitive
Thinker, Intuitive Feeler, Sensing Thinker, and Sensing Feeler. The other two traits: introversion/extroversion and perceiving/judging just determine
which of the other two traits is outward and which is inward, as well as which is most important.
The test has always been fairly reliable for me in the past. I have consistently tested as an Intuitive Thinker.
I've always been closely split on the Perceiving/Judging, with a slight tendency towards judging.
And over the years, as I have grown as a person, I've watched my score shift from introvert to extrovert.
But I've always tested either INTJ or ENTJ. Basically meaning that I am outwardly a thinker, and internally rely very much on intuition, and that
over time I have become more outgoing.
That's an extremely accurate description of me, in my humble opinion.
That was until tonight. Out of nowhere, I tested ENFP, suggesting that my dominant and outward directed characteristic had suddenly become inwardly
directed, and dropped to tertiary importance. Unlikely at best.
So I retook the test, and paid a little closer attention to what the questions were trying to measure. And I'm pretty sure I found the problem. The
questions essentially equate not being a jerk with being emotional- even if the motivation for your behavior is strictly rational (or to be blunt-
The questions that ask what I'm like at work were all having their answers thrown off by the fact that I have a romantic interest in a coworker and
haven't been my usual hardass self at work lately for that reason, leading the test to believe that being a nice guy is more important to me than
getting the job done- hence feeler rather than thinker. (I'm glad I'm fooling somebody- because half the office sees right through me). Even some of
the more abstract questions were being answered based on how I'd handle situations at work (obviously- because where else do I spend so much time-
other than bed).
So I reinterpreted the relevant questions to deal with my behavior among people I don't want to sleep with, and sure enough, back to ENTJ I went.
So problem 1: The test presents you with simple A or B choices and presumes to know the motivation which will be behind either choice.
But I also started digging into the nuts and bolts of the test when I was investigating this, and I found out something else very interesting, and
more fundamentally wrong with the type descriptions. The extrovert/introvert measurement is being applied in ways that do not follow logically at all.
Although I used to be an Introvert, I was never fit the description of INTJ better than I fit the description of ENTJ.
As I said in the overview, the type really begins with the middle two letters: in my case NT: Intuitive and Thinking.
The last letter determines what you display outwardly. In my case the last letter is J: Judgement. That means my Judgement, which is based on
Thinking, displays outwardly, while my Intuition is kept to myself.
THE CATCH IS: The first letter is derived from questions that determine whether or not you are an extrovert. But that is then INCORRECTLY applied. If
you are an extrovert, it is assumed that your outward trait is your most important one. If you are an introvert, it is assumed that your inward trait
is your most important one.
So the difference between an INTJ and an ENTJ is that the INTJ relies more on his inward intuition than on his outward thinking, while an ENTJ relies
more on his outward thinking than his inward intuition.
That's not a valid conclusion to draw. Even when I was an introvert, my outward function (thinking) was what I spent more time on, based more of my
life on, and was more strongly gifted in.
This would also suggest of course that the dichotomy of having one trait introverted and one trait extroverted is false, and is merely being forced as
a means to the end of determining which takes precendence (which is subsequently accomplished with flawed application of the extrovert/introvert
measurement). The only way that my inwardly directed life could still center more heavily on thinking than intuition would be for my thought to be
inwardly directed as well as outwardly directed (and heavily so, considering just how introverted I was).
The problem with the test is that it is fixed- it doesn't change based on your answers. The same questions designed to determine whether intuition is
more important than thinking are being used to determine whether sensing is more important than feeling.
If the test were to archetype the taker first, finding out first and foremost that I am an NT, and then start trying to figure out which of those two
specific traits takes precendence (without regard for outward presenatation, since that was only needed so that E/I could be used to determine
precedence) it would be more accurate.
Of course an extroversion measurement would be useful still. Because the test should take into account how one tends to act on his thoughts.
We then would arrive at a new 4 variable test which tests, in order of questioning,
1. Intuition versus Sensation
2. Feeling versus Thinking
3. Precedence of 1 versus 2
4. Extroversion versus Introversion.
The difference from the current test would be rather small actually, but I believe the results would be more consistent. I will probably attempt to
create a prototype test sometime in the near future. I'll post a link if I get around to it.