So, What’s the Deal with Personality Types and the MBTI?

In a previous post (Still believe in the MBTI personality type theory? Think again…) I referred to the MBTI theory of personality types. And I still can’t wrap my head around why so many people decidedly commit to this theory. It is outdated and is certainly not “sound proof.” I’ve taken the test myself and the answers to a lot of the questions would have been “it depends” or “sometimes.” In other words the questions are not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, the MBTI is based on (and this is important) preferences which are not stable over time. Finally, coming from David J. Pittenger  assistant professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Marietta College:

Measuring the MBTI… and Coming Up Short

There are even psychologists who not only question the MBTI, but say that it is not valid.

The following quotes are from David M. Boje, Ph.D., Professor of Management in the Management Department, CBAE at New Mexico State University (NMSU):

“…do not treat the archetype scores of M-B as anything more than Astrology”

“The test is not valid or legal to use for personnel assignments, hiring, or promotion. It does not have predictive validity for such uses. It is a useful guide, and no more. Problem is, people go to a workshop, get excited and treat M-B as a secret window into the mind of their co-workers.”

Robert Spillane, Professor of Management at the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University argues that research shows that efforts to predict performance from personality and motivation tests have been consistently and spectacularly unsuccessful:

“[Tests] trivialize human behavior by assuming that (fake) attitudes predict performance. Not only is this incorrect but testers offer no explanations for behavior beyond the circular proposition that behavior is caused by traits which are inferred from behavior,”.

“The technical deficiencies of most personality tests have been known for many years. Yet they are conveniently ignored by those with vested interests in their continued use.”

Quite compelling coming from well-known psychologists.

The following is an excerpt from a forum on the MBTI theory:

Ok, so basically in real-time and space you have a whole bunch of SJs who spend their weekends at bake sales or dog races and love nothing more than to have everything organized and predictable, then you have the ENxJs… (I can visualize them) being talkative, but probably not hanging much together…. SPs are out doing their exciting power and pleasure games, whether that is in business, clubs or sports fields…. and then you get INFJs in their ivory towers of righteousness, INTJs in towers of super-strength-and-power, INTPs are locked up gestating ideas and INFPs are wobbling around without purpose, occasionally adopting purpose just for the sake of having one? And everyone’s too blind to see how weird this is?
How is this a good system? Is this how it really works? Does it work?*

*cited from Lenka on forum

Another opposition to the validity of the MBTI found on YUKU:

Back in 1986 I went to work for company in Rochester, MN. My 3rd or 4th day on the job, the boss told me that they were a “Meyers-Briggs Agency”, and said I had to take the test so that they could order the placard for my door, to identify me by my MB result. I refused, and was surprised that it was apparently a REALLY BIG DEAL to this agency. I remember saying that I’d do the MB if everyone would then get a tarot reading. I didn’t take the test.

I’ve been in the mental health field for over 30 years and yeah, I’ve taken a ton of these tests, mainly for shits and giggles. Aside from always having Mt. Everest on the MMPI 4 scale, the results of those tests never come out the same for me. Or for most people if they are honest (IME). I did go and take the test again, and struggled with what to answer because “it depends” in so many cases. This time around I came out ESsomethingorother. “provider”. While some of it may be true, the whole part about being really cooperative and a big team player, not so much. It also said that I’m really really gregarious. Not so much.

I recently had a kind of tarot reading and frankly it seemed more “me” than any of these tests. Most people are pretty complex animals, I just have a hard time with tests that try to pigeon-hole us into some “type”. Probably because I’m oppositional! I have the attention span of a gnat, but I think the result this time around was ESFJ. Whatever is called “Provider”.*

*cited from Lsrd1 on YUKU forum (comment #39)

Ouch! to all of you MBTI followers. The overlap and inconsistency – no way in hell are there 16 distinctive types. How can this be when one’s preferences change at any given time or in any given situation? All of these types can be narrowed down to 3 personality types. Yes, just 3.

This personality type theory is called the Wakefield Doctrine (the theory of clarks, scotts and rogers). The key to the theory is that it is based on perception. How we perceive the world which, in turn, becomes the world we live in. The Wakefield Doctrine is predicated upon the idea that everyone experiences the world/reality differently from one of three overlapping but distinctive perspectives (not preferences). It also proposes that our personalities are but a result of our perception, of our habitual responses to the world. The Doctrine maintains that these characteristic perceptions of reality can be grouped into three distinct types, called for reasons stated elsewhere, clarks, scotts and rogers. These links will tell you everything you need to know about each type as well as a summary of the Wakefield Doctrine.

I tried yours. Now try mine (unless you happen to be close-minded in which case you should not even be involved in personality typage) and try to tell me that the Wakefield Doctrine is not a valid applicable tool for determining personality types. No tests with ‘forced-choice’ questions are required. Nor do they even exist as part and parcel to the Wakefield Doctrine.

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13 Responses to So, What’s the Deal with Personality Types and the MBTI?

  1. Pingback: New personality type: the Jonas… | Clairepeek's Creative Writing

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  5. I haven’t read about the MBTI since college. Your post makes it abundantly clear to me that only rogers would be able to slog through it all and remain, at the end of it all, convinced it was the best darned personality theory of all time. Or am I wrong on that? Consensus of a large group is sufficient as validation to rogers, no?
    Now on second thought, there may be some clarks who look at the “complexity” of the theory and think that they may have hit upon something. Maybe. Because surely they would have one of their own!
    Me, I’m liking the simplicity of the Wakefield Doctrine. And the fact it is so spot on.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Well stated. I appreciate the fact that you are aware of the MBTI and it’s implications.

      “…only rogers would be able to slog through it all and remain, at the end of it all, convinced it was the best darned personality theory of all time.”
      Rogers, Rogers, Rogers
      …. Absolutely true. And they are the “problem.” Because they are so abundant and make up the majority of the population it is not difficult to understand why the MBTI has remained unchallenged for so long. Oh those rogers. They love their neat little boxes. And heaven forbid someone should come along and put a wrinkle in the fabric in which they live.

      And so it will be left to the scotts (and the clarks who are willing to get outside of their heads) to push the rogers back and expose the invalidity of MBTI which is their network. If you go to any personality type/personality type theory forum you will see that they consist almost entirely rogers. Unbelievable. Seriously, go to one (i.e. and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  6. Lunchbox Lenny says:

    Anybody see a blue ball come bouncing through here? You better not be hiding my ball! Ball-hiding motherfucker!

    • Yo Lenny!
      I know you’ve gotta run but thanks for dropping by. Oh yeah, I just saw the blue ball. It was really tough just letting it roll by.
      (OK he’s gone now. I can take it out of my pocket)
      Anyone care to tell me whether he’s a clark or a scott or a roger? Downsprings and FOTDs excluded.

  7. Need more proof?

    Measuring the MBTI…
    And Coming Up Short

  8. Molly M. says:

    Over the years I have taken so many personality tests — even the same ones more than once, and always get different results, because, like you said, they are so based on circumstances.

    The only personality test I liked was a personality disorder test… I didn’t like any of the answers available, so I wrote my own. The writer of the test commented back that I was the most sane person he had ever met. lol!

    • Bravo Molly! Good for you. Most people who don’t like the answers will just try to pick the one closest to what they think it should be without stopping to actually question it. Very common in all personality type tests. This lack of accuracy is one of the main reason behind the invalidity of the tests. A very big flaw…

  9. you know, there are rogers out there reading this Post who will be sneering, directly in proportion to how attractive the ideas presented are… the scotts…they might Comment if you catch them in-between chasing the blue ball or cornering the helpless, injured victim.

    and clarks…well there is your hope for an intelligent exchange of ideas… but they very often get scared and feel that they might look stupid if they put their thoughts in writting.

    Good Post, though…..

    Hey, naked women wouldn’t* hurt ya, know…I read those popular Posts where they can tell ya what you had for breakfast (Oscar Mayers Briggs breakfast sausage and eggs) or what fashion lline is your favorite ( Oscar de la renta Myers Briggs ..of Paris) or even your musical tastes ( John Myers Briggs and Oscar from Sesame Street)

    Is this thing on? oh shit…. I love the Briggs sisters…they were the best.

    (Mother daughter team?…cool! I’ll take….)

    * wouldn’t in the sense that it totally would

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