I just re-tested myself with the abridged version of the MBTI located at:
Funny thing is, for the first time in quite some time, my scores have been consistent. I tested as an INFJ for the third time in the last couple years, and when I read the portrait description, it fit like a glove. I skew towards the detail oriented portrait in that I tend to get annoyed when people ignore details. I've been doing my best to mitigate that by educating myself on the different personality types.
Working together is hard, but when done correctly, can really boost productivity and keep your team together. I'm very curious as to what the distribution of the HN community is.
I couldn't let this pass without bringing up the Forer Effect : basically, that people will believe just about any vague generalization as long as they think it's been tailored to them.
For all of the "science" that goes into building the models for these tests (not just MBTI), any that rely completely on self-evaluation (especially multiple choice questions), should be taken with a huge grain of salt. They're fine for entertainment, but for anything practical they should be regarded as one step above astrology or haruspicy.
Just to provide an example of the worst case, I've seen companies hold personality test workshops, only to have that bind their thinking and give them reason to quash dissent ("Of course... that's what a XXXX would say" or "I really need a YYYY on this project"). Too many times these things turn into a substitute for actually getting to know your employees' strengths and weaknesses.
I don't want to be seen as overreacting to a simple harmless poll, but I do want to make sure people aren't giving too much credence to their (or others') results.
I'm not so sure. Years ago when I went to business school, they tested all 400 of my classmates. At the same time in the same room.
Then, they lined us all up on a scale from I to E and asked us to group up with the people next to us and do some simple things - like "plan a party".
The people at the I end of the spectrum planned a very, very different party than those at the E end. The difference was shocking. I think the extreme I people invited two close friends for dinner at their apartment. The E extremests planned a 10,000 person rager. All from the simple instructions "Plan a party."
Similar raknings for the other three pairings produced similarly dramatic differences in the way we approached common tasks. So I'm pretty sure it's not just entertainment.
You could argue people were just doing what they were "supposed" to do, but being one of those people - I don't think that was the case. We were just playing goofy icebreaker games as far as we knew.
On the other hand, practically speaking, all it taught me was "Don't assume everyone thinks like you." Not exactly a huge breakthrough, but not astrology either.
Personality tests aren't very revelatory though. Telling someone whether they are shy or not is almost the same as telling someone what color their eyes are -- they could've just as easily looked in the mirror and figured it out a long time ago.
"Just to provide an example of the worst case, I've seen companies hold personality test workshops, only to have that bind their thinking and give them reason to quash dissent ("Of course... that's what a XXXX would say" or "I really need a YYYY on this project"). Too many times these things turn into a substitute for actually getting to know your employees' strengths and weaknesses."
They shouldn't be. Quite the opposite in fact. If you have an appropriate understanding of what personality type means then it becomes a lot more useful. If a person's skills, abilities, and personality are nature plus nurture, then MBTI shows the "nature" part. They don't cover the "nurture" part. Of course the other thing is that the MBTI is only applicable if you're sure the person that's taking it is telling the truth. Employees are always going to lie (or at least embellish) on these tests. But tests are only one way to get at this information. If you know what to look for, you can usually glean most peoples' personality types without subjecting them to tests they aren't going to tell the truth on anyway.
The way I think about it is almost like design patterns for people. Sure, everyone is unique. But we're not all that unique. There are almost always underlying themes and principles that make totally different people think similarly but not the same. If you think about it that way, personality type becomes a lot more useful.
If you keep asking a person in different ways if they're always in the middle of a party or standing next to the wall, you'll eventually find out if they consider themselves to be introverted or extraverted. Likewise for the other traits. But, at their coarsest levels, people probably already have an inkling about those. (E.g. before you took the test, did you think you may actually be extroverted, feelings oriented, and sensing?)
I think when it comes down to it, we take these tests for the enjoyment we get in reading about ourselves later. (The Great Facebook Personality Quiz Epidemic of Ought Nine is the foremost recent example of this in action.) It tickles that part of our brains that says "Someone's taken the time to get to know me—I must be important!", even if that someone is really an algorithm. And it's that, combined with all of the parts that are "right", that allows us to overlook the parts that are vague, over-generalized, right-but-with-certain-caveats, or flat-out wrong.
I'm glad that there is at least one person who is bringing up the issues with the MBTI.
The assumption that you can judge personalities from a Myers-Briggs test is rather silly. The test was constructed by non-experts based on Carl Jung's theories of psychological types. The "Criticism" section of the test's Wikipedia article  is rich in citations of how the test by and large doesn't test anything, except perhaps the I–E scale.
I admittedly kind of have an axe to grind on this test. I think it's a waste of time if you're trying to actually learn something, and especially dangerous when people use it for any actual purposes other than just personal fun.
I think it is important to distinguish between the MBTI itself, and the ideas behind it.
Personally, I don't think the MBTI is worth much. It is not a bad introduction to ones own preferences, but does not seem to measure them well or consistently.
On the other hand, the ideas in the Myers-Briggs theory have helped me greatly in understanding myself and others. For example, I'm heavily NP, while someone I've had close interactions with is a strong SJ. This has helped me deal with this person, and get a clue about what is going on when they seem to be acting (from my naive point of view), nonsensically.
This kind of discussion is definitely welcome. Every one of these tests is incredibly subjective, and the results could be misused. To your point about companies, though: How would you build a team without knowing their personalities? Assuming you couldn't hire them as a contract-to-hire?
Knowing personalities is certainly essential. But, I think if you want to find that out, it's better to interact with them and form your own opinions and talk to others who've done the same. Using a 4-dimension set of binary states (just to pick on MBTI here) will only tell you what you could have found out faster, cheaper (there's an industry around these things), and without making the person feel like a replaceable part.
In an interview situation (where you have less time to decide than building an internal team), that could mean going through hypothetical situations and finding out how they would solve a problem, having multiple interviewers, and checking on references. Having them take a personality test beforehand sends a signal that as an employer, you're not willing to take the time to get to know them, which starts everyone off on the wrong foot. Also, IANAL, but it sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
re: Forer Effect - one thing to do is to read all of the personality types, especially before taking the test. I find the these descriptors tend to be a little more specific about traits (especially weaknesses!) and there are many that don't apply to me.
re: self-evaluated multiple-choice - One thing I've done in these sorts of situations is to find concrete situations in which I can say, "when I was in this specific situation that the question was asking about, I did X", which hopefully minimizes the amount of "oh man i want to be an extrovert" sort of answering.
...but yes, agreed, this is really just sort of a goofy little thing, but it's fun and still potentially a bit interesting.
My I traded out for an E during high school. I'm now ENTJ. Perhaps a P would make me a better programmer.
I have to admit, I'm not really a fan of Myers-Briggs. It makes loose, mutable categories, and doesn't make any helpful, testable predictions other than sweeping generalizations (such as INTP = programmer).
The enneagram, however, that I like. Its proponents attempt to attach mystical garbage to it, which is unfortunate: it makes strong predictions, changes in personality (my I -> E, for instance) occur in predictable ways, and it functions to make all sorts of interactions easier. At first glance, it seems less descriptive than MBTI (9 types instead of 16), but it also accounts for emotional health and secondary characteristics in a way that make it more descriptive and less of a pigeonhole system.
Yes, the Enneagram is much more accurate and much more profound than the MBTI.
The MBTI is really a confused mess. It purports to be based on Jung's type system. However, a close reading of the relevant section of Jung's <i>Psychological Types</i> reveals the following. Jung identified eight types. The descriptions in his book correspond quite closely, in fact, with eight of the Enneagram types. (The omitted one is the Three.) Myers and Briggs then took the dimensions Jung had identified and multiplied them out to get 16 types which now correspond more poorly to the Enneagram types.
If you don't know about the Enneagram, you might say, "okay, so what? so they don't correspond well -- that doesn't prove the MBTI is wrong." But if you will study the Enneagram you will see there is much more to it. For instance, the connections between one's type and how one related to one's parents; the spectrum of expressions of each type, from unhealthy to healthy; and the concepts of integration and disintegration, which connect the nine types in a clear, fixed, and quite beautiful structure. If you prefer not to hear the mystical overtones in that structure, that's certainly your choice, but they're there.
The Enneagram is a profound tool for self-understanding and self-improvement. The MBTI can be a useful place to start for people who are new to self-exploration, but it won't take you nearly as far.
I totally agree. Even without taking the test, I found that only one or two of the enneagram types describe me and many of my family members to the T. Not all of the types. And even though I've changed Myers-Briggs types over time (which MBTI does not model), my primary enneatype has not changed. The changes that I've gone through, however, were modeled by the enneagram in a predictable way, with (in my opinion) an accurate reason for why those changes occurred.
It won't work 100%; you can't pigeon-hole everyone. It's just a model. But in the end, I found my research of the enneagram to be extremely helpful for personal growth by allowing me to be more aware of my own patterns. Patterns for reacting to problems, patterns for trying to get what I want, etc.
I'm going to predict that most of the votes will be for INTJ (including mine) or INTP. That said, how valid are the results of the MBTI? I just read the criticism section on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator#Cri...) and the bit on statistical structure was interesting - for 'types' you'd expect to see a bimodal distribution, but, in reality, you see something more like a normal distribution that the test draws a line through the middle of. Your classification (i.e. the letter things) depend on which side of the curve you fall.
I've tested as 9 of the 16 possible types on the MBTI (every variant with a T, plus INFJ once.) Being near the center of most of the bell curves means it takes very little "noise" to shift me to the other side. A slight change in wording, scoring, question order, or my current level of attentiveness can put me into another type.
I'm an ENTJ/INTJ depending on mood, but yes, this -- serious problems with the nonsense of the Myers-Briggs. Not a very good test, and grounded in nothing really sensible beyond an unhealthy adoration of Carl Jung.
Everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting. Don’t confuse Introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not related.
I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities.
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world.
Everyone spends some time Sensing and some time using Intuition. Don’t confuse Sensing with sensual. They aren’t related.
Paying attention to physical reality, what I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
Paying the most attention to impressions or the meaning and patterns of the information I get.
Everyone uses Thinking for some decisions and Feeling for others. Don’t confuse Feeling with emotion. Everyone has emotions about the decisions they make. Also do not confuse Thinking with intelligence.
When I make a decision, I like to find the basic truth or principle to be applied, regardless of the specific situation involved.
I believe I can make the best decisions by weighing what people care about and the points-of-view of persons involved in a situation.
Everyone takes in information some of the time. Everyone makes decisions some of the time. Don’t confuse Judging and Perceiving with a person’s level of organization. Either preference can be organized. o you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)?
I use my decision-making (Judging) preference (whether it is Thinking or Feeling) in my outer life. Do not confuse Judging with judgmental, in its negative sense about people and events. They are not related.
I use my perceiving function (whether it is Sensing or Intuition) in my outer life. Remember, in type language perceiving means “preferring to take in information.” It does not mean being “perceptive” in the sense of having quick and accurate perceptions about people and events.
I'm also an ENFP, and I always get the same result. I find it so odd that there are such individual differences in this test, and that those differences follow a predictable distribution in the general population.
I'm happy with the result anyway, but I wish I was better at finishing things :)
I am an ENFP too. I've heard that Isabel Myers (one of the creators of the MBTI) was ENFP, and I wonder if she optimized the test for our type without meaning to, making identification more accurate than for other personalities.
I didn't know what you are talking about, until I solved the quiz and it turned out ENFP - and then I read about it. Seems to me that it's misrepresented as an idealizing champion of sorts. Maybe it looks like that to people on the surface, but it's more of a struggle to express oneself with a strong potent more than anything, from my experience at least.
that talked about these personality types as well. The premise of the book is that by understanding your type and choosing a career that is a good fit you are more likely to achieve financial independence. One thing that occurred to me while reading it was that so many of the holy wars in software might be rooted in the fundamentally different perspectives that the different types have. The big one that comes to mind is the difference between the Perceiver and the Judger. Here I'm thinking about programmers who want to prescribe rules of style on the team, or even things like late versus early binding.
For what its worth the book listed historical examples of INTJ as people like Edison and Ben Franklin while INTP were Einstein and Carl Jung.
Well, it's wrong about Edison and Jung. Edison was a classic Enneagram Eight, which corresponds to ENTx (Jung's "extroverted intuitive type"); Jung himself, I'd wager, was a One, which I think corresponds to ESTx (Jung's "extroverted thinking type").
I'm back at home now and I misquoted the book. Actually it is listing Edison, Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson as ENTP. The book does list Jung, Einstein, and Steven Hawking as INTP which it calls "Visionary Thinkers". That chapter actually discusses the fact that Jung was an introvert who would retreat to his secluded cabin to recharge.
Otherwise it's really interesting how there's not a single extroverted type higher than the introverts? But it just goes to show being introverted doesn't mean you're socially incompetent and can't talk to others.
I want to see a poll like this for CEOs or other executives. Most leaders I know (at least the good ones) are introverts, but they still go a great job leading. Wonder if it's the same for bigger companies.
Our team did Insights  training, which is like the Meyers-Briggs test but with different pivots (it's sort of hard to explain). One of the great things that came out of it was a team graph showing where each person was, so when you interacted with each other you could be mindful of the personality of your coworker (do they appreciate public praise or do they want a quiet personal thanks? do they prefer a get-to-they-point approach or a larger backstory and context to a task? etc.).
We might have been in the same class. I just took Team Dynamics at a conference a few weeks ago, which is how I was spurred on to this test once again. I was an analyzer-stabilizer in that class, which also fits quite well with my MBTI type.
If you're seriously wondering if I was in the same class, I'd have to say no. My team did the Insights training a few years ago (our team churn has resulted in about half the team not having an Insights profile). I'd say it was most effective immediately after the training, and wore off after time since we fell out of practice. We have these little lego-like blocks that you keep on your desk to remind others of what kind of person you are, but in the day-to-day life of turning the crank, it's sort of hard to always keep that sort of stuff in your head and end up falling to normal habits.
Not necessarily. Someone may believe they believe (http://lesswrong.com/lw/i4/belief_in_belief/) in the profile to the point that they look for ways to dismiss the alternatives in a way they did not for the original. Cognitive biases are nasty that way.
I'm an INTJ. INTJ wins these polls everywhere I've been on the internet. Allegedly only one percent or so of the population is INTJ.
This could be since my interests tend to attract lots of people like me, or because INTJ isn't actually that rare, or because internet forums as a whole attract a disproportionate number of INTJs. Perhaps the true reason is something else, though.
I got ENFP but it was a 1 on the Extroverted scale, compared to 50 50 44 on the others. The Intro/Extroversion questions are always tricky for me, because I generally would rather be social with people than alone by myself, but my adolescence was rocky so I'm still playing catchup on the social skills.