#2 – The Myers-Briggs personality test is racist
Why do they call me a fairy? I don’t frolic or skip or use the words darling, dandy, or delightful. But Myers-Briggs thinks I’m a woodland elf giving flowers to princesses. Fuck them. I’m Spider-Man, goddamnit. At least according to Buzzfeed’s personality test.
Besides, who gives a shit about personality tests? (I do, but we’ll get to that.) First, we know they aren’t scientific. Even the professionals have trouble labeling someone as schizophrenic. So how is pseudo-Freud supposed to do better? Second, do we really need more labels?
The Myers-Briggs personality test
The king of all personality tests is Myers-Briggs. Later, I’ll cover some others, including the Big 5 and the enneagram. But today, it’s all about the mac daddy, the daddy mac, the thing that makes me go wiggity wack–the Myers-Briggs personality test.
Eight letters, organized in one of sixteen ways, to produce a four-letter outcome. These letters are your identity. It’s who you are.
Straight from mama’s lips, Myers-Briggs, this is what their personality test is meant to tell you. “The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator helps you understand your personality preferences in four key areas:”
- How you get your energy (Extraversion vs. Introversion)
- How you take in information and learn (Sensing vs. Intuition)
- How you make decisions (Thinking vs. Feeling)
- How you like to organize your time and environment (Judging vs. Perceiving)
After taking the Myers-Briggs personality test, I learned that I’m an INFP. In other words, I’m supposed to be “quiet, open-minded, and imaginative, and…caring and creative approach to everything [I] do.” Yup, that’s me! *wink, wink*
OK, I didn’t really pay $1,529 to take the test. But I did take the free version on 16personalities. Furthermore, they are the ones that called me a fairy. Fuckers.
Based on the Myers-Briggs personality archetype, what am I supposed to be? In summary, I’m an introvert. But isn’t everyone in this day of COVID and quarantining? This leads me to my first point.
#1 – Two quacks made up the Myers-Briggs personality test
Recently, I watched the new documentary Persona on HBO Max. And here, I’ll insert a confession. Despite the documentary’s effectiveness at showing the dangerous application of personality tests, I’m still a fan–despite being called a fairy. But let’s talk about the dangers. Fun!
The film’s main focus was on the Myers-Briggs personality test. The directors included some familiar faces, such as sharing Icarus’s documentary writer and interviews with professionals from Netflix’s Social Dilemma documentary.
In summary, this is what I learned. A mother-daughter duo created the Myers-Briggs personality test. It started with the mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, experimenting on her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. Katharine kept detailed notes on how Isabel learned things.
Then, Katharine read a book by Carl Jung. After that, Katharine threw all her writings into the fire. Inspired by her mom’s antics, Isabel put together a personality test. She began by handing out pamphlets and then selling them to corporations such as General Electric.
From the beginning, corporations used the Myers-Briggs personality test to make improvements in their companies. Moreover, companies were making hiring and firing decisions based upon the test. But we’ll get to that more insidious feature down below.
Were either the mother or daughter trained, psychologists? No. Then why do so many people stand by the test? First, it’s fun. I would liken it to reading horoscopes in Cosmopolitan. Or, better yet, Buzzfeed. That’s where I took a personality test that told me I’m most like Spider-man.
Second, people identify with it. They see themselves. Similarly, this reminds me of the excellent documentary on Hulu called In and Of Itself. We all want to identify with something, but labeling is also where we get in trouble.
#2 – The Myers-Briggs personality test is racist
I’m surprised that a bunch of old white dudes didn’t make the Myers-Briggs personality test. Speaking of old white dudes, guess who made the Big 5 personality test? And even more spookily, the AI-powered video personality test? Not just white dudes. But old white dudes.
But back to Myers-Briggs and their personality test. The daughter, Isabel, and the primary writer of the test was also an author. She wrote one book that she submitted to a competition and won. But she also wrote another book. That book is hidden. Why?
Isabel Briggs Myers, the creator of the Myers-Briggs personality test, is racist. She wrote a book about a rich family whose members continued to commit suicide. Why? Because people in the family discovered they had “one drop” of African blood in their bodies. Um. Yeah.
Remember, this test is meant to test corporate-level people of the early 1900s. What did that look like back then? In other words, white men. Companies wanted gregarious leaders that looked like other companys’ gregarious leaders.
#3 – Hiring decisions
The truth is, personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs test, have gone from fun and humorous to making hiring decisions. Corporations can’t make decisions based on medical information, but they CAN make decisions based on personality tests. At least in the United States.
It doesn’t matter if you have a formal diagnosis or dealing with something like imposter syndrome. If you hesitate or give inconsistent or unwanted answers in your personality test, you won’t get the job. (Unless you’re royalty, but that’s a different story.)
For this reason, we need to be cautious about personality tests. Tests like Myers-Briggs begun with pseudoscience and were fueled by racism. Why would we use them to make hiring decisions? Consequently, lawmakers are looking into these questions.
Tests like the Myers-Briggs personality tests are fun. They make us think about ourselves and how we operate. But we shouldn’t take them seriously. Moreover, sticking a label on ourselves can be dangerous, demeaning, and demoralizing.
Be unique! Be you. Even if that means you’re a fairy. But I’m Spider-man!
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