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  • Sarah Rose

Who the Hell is Myers Briggs?

Hello, all you beautiful humans! I'm here today to talk about Myers and Briggs. Myers was a coal miner, and Briggs was an accountant. Despite their opposing lifestyles, Myers and Briggs became friends, and often ate boiled eggs together while exchanging sections of the New York Times. One day, Myers and Briggs decided to devise a test that would tell everyone and their mother things they should already know about themselves. Today, this test is world famous, and used by corporations to tell their employees things their employees already know. Such as, Steve likes to work alone. Steve does not play well with others. Dammit, Steve.

None of that was true, but I wish it was. The Myers Briggs test was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs-Myers. It is based upon a theory proposed by someone named Carl Jung, who speculated that humans experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) emphasizes the value of naturally occurring differences. "The underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation." If you want to know more about yourself, check out the handy info-chart-graph-ism below, pilfered from Wikipedia to ensure quality and accuracy.

Although popular in the business sector (what up, corporate America) the MBTI exhibits significant deficiencies, including poor validity (i.e. not measuring what it says it measures) and poor reliability (giving different results for the same person on different occasions). The MBTI is super uninteresting if you’re even a little self-aware. For example, my Myers-Briggs personality is ENFJ, which breaks down like this:

E – Extraversion preferred to introversion: ENFJ’s often feel motivated by their interaction with people. They tend to enjoy a wide circle of acquaintances, and they gain energy in social situations. They tend to turn to external sources when making decisions and want approval from others.

N – Intuition preferred to senses: ENFJ’s tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.

F – Feeling preferred to thinking: ENFJs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.

J – Judgment preferred to perception: ENFJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability.

Those definitions were also pilfered from Wikipedia, by the way, and edited for clarity and grammar. Let's take a narcissistic dive into my personality type, shall we? Starting with the E. Yes, I gain energy from being around people and I am extroverted. But spending time with people I don't connect with is exhausting as hell. On to the N: sure, I'm a big-picture person, but I do focus on immediate details because that’s how I get to the big picture. See what I’m doing here? If you think you need a personality test to know yourself, you don’t. Just be honest with yourself. Plus, if you’re not honest when you’re answering the questions in a personality test, your results aren’t going to be accurate, so that’s a double losing game. Nothing about this is rocket science,.

My mum is a Human Resource Director for a chain of hospitals in Wisconsin and Illinois. She recently underwent training to be certified to administer the Myers-Briggs when interviewing and hiring candidates. How would one use the Myers-Briggs in the workplace, you ask? Wonderful question! (pulls out a monocle and begins smoking an e-cigarette in the shape of a pipe).

Well you see, the Myers-Briggs helps you understand your approach to solving problems, and how you relate to others. My mum administers other surveys/tests during the interview process, then administers the Myers-Briggs after a candidate is hired. Isn’t that interesting? Did you just fall asleep while I took two sentences to explain how the Myers-Briggs might not be a complete waste of time, since it is trusted and used in professional settings such as a hospital, where people go to get their livers pumped and gall bladders removed, and babies birthed? There must be some sort of validity there, correct?

Chub-Chub has been staring at me the entire time I’ve been typing this paragraph and it’s the most disconcerting. I think either Myers or Briggs would be an astounding cat name, don’t you?

Tweet me @sarahmac_attack and let me know your type!


Sarah Rose