Are We Our Personality Types?

Have you ever taken a personality test? I sat the Myers-Briggs sort when I first registered for college. I’d have to dig to unearth the paperwork, but recall that my middle two scores were very close.

As such, my results of Sensing/Intuition and Thinking/Feeling were not the most accurate. When another blogger wrote about personality tests last February, I took a quick online version that said I was still close on those two. In fact, I was close on the last one (Judging/Perceiving) as well.

MyersBriggsTypes

What does this mean?

Am I still the profile of the acronym result I got? Should I read all eight possibilities to be safe? Am I divergent?

Or, maybe we ought to say all these tests are a bogus waste of time. Right?

I can go with any side’s viewpoint on this. If, however, we do decide to throw the assessment out with the bathwater; may I ask why categorizing oneself is so popular? Why do people take the tests for fun, or why do their managers have teams do so? Is it helpful?

Three years ago, my mother showed me another personality test: The Color Code. In true non-fiction book-reading fashion, we skipped right to the test for which the book was named. In true me fashion, I tested high in two categories. According to Taylor Hartman’s measures, I was blue and red.

“The most difficult color combination within one individual is the mixture of Red and Blue. If you are strong in both categories, you will often find yourself stepping on someone’s toes to get a task completed (Red), but feeling guilty afterward for making that person unhappy (Blue).”

When I read that, I felt understood. I felt like a stranger walking through a forest who had just been told the name of all those beautiful purple flowers I’d seen growing on the tree trunks. Further, I’d also been handed a manual about that flower’s use and purposes.

This seems an odd reaction from someone like me, a self-proclaimed anti-categorizee.

But I think it explains the popularity of the practice. If I, skeptical and averse, like being analyzed and advised; maybe everyone does. Maybe we all feel a bit lost in the woods and see these self-help botanists as a glimmer of light.

Do you think so? Have you taken a personality test? If so, what did you think?

ben-mullins-785450-unsplash.jpg

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While you’re responding, look into what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, May 1: I learned about the many reasons you all create in “Why Do You Write?

Thursday, May 2: “The Cure for Depression: Don’t Skip What Works,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, May 3: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Ruth!

Saturday, May 4: Announced the 24th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Superheroes. PLEASE ENTER!

Answered Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt with “The Choice of Three: Roll Your Initiative.

Sunday, May 5: “The Animal Facts of Life,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt, sisu.

Monday, May 6: Promoted Fractured Faith Blog‘s post. They want to reach 10K followers and are almost there!!

Also posted “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Three.”

Tuesday, May 7:  An inspirational quote by Theodore Roosevelt.

Wednesday, May 8: Shared Charles Yallowitz’ excellent advice on spying in “7 Tips From a Reticent Spymaster.

Plus, the post you are currently reading.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Go for Perfection …Sometimes,” “Parenting Is Hard, so Why Still Do It?,” and “Short Mom Rap.”

 

Photo Credits:
By Jake Beech – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30859659
Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

50 thoughts on “Are We Our Personality Types?

  1. My favorite personality/categorization quiz story comes from high school. So strap in because this is going to be a LONG comment.

    I went to North Carolina nerd camp for math, but everyone – in every subject – had to take two philosophy courses: one about mamby-pamby-feelings and one about historical philosophies and politics. In the historical one, which I far preferred, we had to take a political personality quiz. This quiz would show us where we stood on a grid with axes Anarchist-Fascist and Liberal-Conservative. You can still take the same quiz, in all its html glory, here: https://www.politicalcompass.org/

    The teacher brought up the images on the analysis page (https://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2) and pointed to some of the political figures in the second image. He explained what the quadrants meant, why these famous people were there, then set us off to take the quiz. When we were done, we’d put our name on a dot and place it on the big board he’d put at the front of the classroom.

    Then we’d talk about our feelings concerning that board.

    Anyway, I’d been at this crazy freaking camp and been in the mamby-pamby-feelings classroom long enough to know where EVERYONE would end up. Everyone wanted to be down in the liberal anarchist quadrant with Gandhi. I didn’t give a rat’s patooty where I actually was politically, but I desperately disliked almost every kid at that camp, and definitely every kid in *that* class. So, regardless of how I felt, I counted up the number of questions, calculated what kinds of scores I’d need, and set out to put myself on the Hitler dot.

    I’m rather proud of my calculations, because I got myself only 1 unit to the right of Hitler. I didn’t consider that a bad effort, given how long I had to calculate this mess. I printed out my graph as proof, loaded up freaking albinoblacksheep or something pre-YouTube, and waited for everyone else.

    Then, the teacher called names and had everyone come put their sticker on the board. One guy cried because he was so centrist, and he couldn’t believe how heartless he really was inside. Others said they felt righteous being so anarchist or whatever.

    And I slapped my Hitler dot up there when it came to be my turn, then I turned to sit back down.

    “Don’t you want to talk about your result?” the teacher asked.

    “I’m not worried. Other people will do that for me.”

    And sure enough, I was right. No one would let it go. It wasn’t my first or last troll at that camp, but it was one of my favorites.

    And, because of it, I don’t trust personality tests. Almost all of them can be rigged to get the result you want.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. MBTI has a pretty long history of being a useful tool. Unfortunately, necessary provisos are often overlooked. (1) The instrument is not infallible. (2) None of the types are “bad” or negative. (3) We shift, and occasionally even “change,” as we age. (4) People should never attempt to “use” someone’s type against them. I’m sure there are other important warnings.

    I’ve taken the MBTI a number of times (including twice in the military). My E (extravert) was always weak, and I now tilt that spectrum at a slight I (introvert). Thus, the other three factors are most significant for me.

    I am an NTJ. Thinking and Judging are decisive, and my N (intuitive) is extreme. I’ve always been a big picture person who can see the likely ends of various paths before they have begun. This has spared me many false starts… but it has also made me extremely impatient with people who possess little intuition.

    Anyway, we can indeed learn things from a proven instrument such as the MBTI… but many other such tools are probably dangerous junk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your provisos; hence, my close score in the last category at a more recent testing.

      I liked the logic of The Color Code; try looking into it for fun some day. By that metric and your provisos, I test more ‘red’ than I used to because, as a mother, I have to take charge. As a mother of boys, I have to be more dominant than I was as a child. 🙂

      Like

  3. When I found out about Myers Briggs in college and received INTJ as my result, I felt like your example in the forest: I finally felt a sense of validation that I was not some weird alien in my sex. Intjs are one of the rarest personality types (second rarest I think) and INTJ females are supposed to be the rarest, hands down. So now I seek them out and nearly hug intj women when I “discover” them or say embarrassing things like “girl power” and “Intj women unite!” It’s such a treat to find someone like you that’s so against what society expects you to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ENTP. And very E T and P. We did them as a group at work and they helped me understand that some of my colleagues weren’t being deliberately obtuse and unhelpful, it was just the way they were wired. It meant I could change my attitude from dislike to pity and feel less like a rat and more smug.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Apparently I’m an ENTJ but I’m highly sceptical of such pigeon-holing. My personality (and I’m pretty sure the same goes for most people) morphs depending on situation, mood, company, etc. I can be passive or active; reacting to others or initiating things. A lot of what the ENTJ picks out is true of me in a ‘centred’ state but other aspects are way off. For me it’s all vaguely interesting but not to be taken too literally.
    Or maybe I’m just weird.
    Actually, that could be it. :-p

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I took one. Mine looks like a compass needle pointing in the blue/analytical direction. Unfortunately didn’t see Hitler or Ghandi in the class… I must have scored low on the powers of interpersonal observation!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You know I love all sorts of quizzes and tests. I just think they’re fun. And I actually came up with a new theory about my Myers Briggs…there was a part that I didn’t agree with, but have come to understand why I scored a certain way. I think some of them are spot on

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve taken the test a few times and I usually come out as INFJ, though sensing/intuition and judging/perception are very close. All the tests show me as very introverted (past 90%). I personally quite liked the tests as I felt they told me a lot about myself. I always thought there was something wrong with me as I was never like anyone else I knew and I always had rather peculiar expectations and standards that no one else seemed to follow. I’ve taken ones which gave detailed descriptions of what your personality type is like and they always rang true for me. The tests have helped me work out more about myself and why I behave certain ways. All that said, I tend to use them as a guide rather than a universal truth. I always try to approach things skeptically and that includes things like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m always uncomfortable with acronyms and labels. One of my past employers gave all staff management the DISC test to determine how we communicate with other managers and employees. What I learned was invaluable in many ways and so untrue in others. My style and personality at work is completely opposite my personal life. I used to think I was dysfunctional in some way. Once I learned I was I was okay with the whole thing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the tests in terms of being helpful or useful. You’ve reminded me of a time I took a short personality assessment as part of the interview process. Probably not entirely legal, but it made me wonder if I’d failed simply based on alignment. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re purple! It is good when you can find a description that feels like it clicks, but sometimes these tests can seem off. Before I left my marketing career, I used to take part in these tests with my management team and give them to my staff. The only one I really liked and sang to me was the StrenghtFinder from Gallup. I love maximizing strengths so it appealed. The worst test I ever took was when I ended up with split results and the facilitator went on to say that anyone who had such results was insane, or some such horrid comment. I got ribbed for that one long after, but I also felt supported when my boss declared the test BS. I’m going to check out the color code! It better not tell me I’m insane… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 Never insane!

      I talked about H.R.R. Gorman’s story with my son; and added that, even if a person WERE to test with a similar personality to Hitler, that doesn’t make him automatically all the horrible things Hitler was. For one thing, we still have personal choice.

      I like the tests for guidance but do not like them used as a definitive, limiting, cold assessment.

      Like

  11. I used to take “personality” tests all the time, back when Quizilla was still alive.
    Personality quizzes are interesting things (in general); a couple classes I took had us take them to discuss the results. People seem to like them since it makes them feel like they belong to a group, or validates their existence. Which is understandable.

    Liked by 1 person

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