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Recently, I started looking into personalities, and as I researched I found it to be quite an interesting topic. The word “personality” is hard to define, and it is even harder to understand in real life.
According to the Oxford Dictionary (2015), personality is “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.” From a practical standpoint, we interact with people who have distinct personalities every day; however, although we routinely deal with this “personality” concept, most of us hardly spend any time pondering the idea. With that said, I wanted to delve deeper into the concept of different personalities and what it means.
There has always been a debate about whether personalities are a result of heredity or the environment. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question as it is cannot be concluded whether personal development is predisposed in one’s DNA or influenced by one’s life experiences and surrounding environment. In all likelihood, however, personality is a result of some combination of both these factors.
While we don’t know what causes distinct personalities, people have gone to great lengths to understand different personality types and how they affect people. As a result, there are hundreds of tests around the world to provide insights into people’s personality types. These tests can be grouped into two broad categories: self-report surveys and observer-ratings surveys.
Self-report surveys are the surveys, questionnaires, or polls in which people read the questions and select responses by themselves without any direct interference by the researchers. Observer-ratings surveys are conducted by trained individuals who report on the perceived personality traits of people by following them closely without letting them know that they are being observed.
Among these two, self-report surveys are the most popular. However, with so many self-report personality tests available, are all of these tests equally efficient and effective? The simple answer is no, they aren’t. Some tests outweigh others by larger margins in various factors like accuracy, verifiability, credibility and so on. With that in mind, I will be shedding light on one of the most popular introspective self-questionnaires for personality testing—the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire first came into being in 1943 as a brainchild of Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, both of whom were US citizens. Katharine Briggs was inspired to initiate her research on personality types when she first met her future son-in-law, Clarence Myers. Katharine noticed that Clarence had a much different way of perceiving the world around him and this inspired her to conduct an extensive literature review on understanding different temperaments of people.
With a motive to help people understand themselves and one another better, her daughter Isabel Myers eventually set up a questionnaire that would identify a person’s personality type and associated behavior. Throughout this endeavor, Isabel sought the help of more experienced psychometricians, and her work was eventually endorsed by professors from different reputed US universities. As a result, Isabel’s subsequent writings on personality types and self-development remain utterly important today, both in professional and personal life.
So, what are the Myers–Briggs personality types? To understand this, we must first delve into the Myers-Briggs model. The ultimate goal of the MBTI is to allow people to explore and understand their own personalities, including strengths, weaknesses, and general preferences. It can also help determine career preferences that would best match his or her personality.
This model is mainly based on the answers to the following 4 questions:
Where do you prefer to direct your energy?
Extraversion (E) vs Introversion (I)
How do you prefer to take in information?
Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
How do you prefer to make your decisions?
Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
How do you prefer to deal with the outer world?
Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)
Based on different, distinct combinations of the above answers, Myers–Briggs model suggests a total number of 16 personality types. A quick summary of these personality types is as follows:
So, what are the actual pros and cons of this Myers–Briggs personality model? Like every single thing in this world, this model has its advantages and disadvantages.
MBTI is quite helpful for discovering who you are and understanding more about your general personality and behavior. It also helps you learn that you are not the only one in this world of your kind. This relieves people who are insecure about their attitudes and actions by allowing them to know they are not actually weird or alone.
Additionally, MBTI enables people to understand others. For example, when I was in cadet college (paramilitary residential educational institution), I always wondered why my roommate, despite staying in a place of strict discipline, was always messy and used to leave his stuff all over the place. I often used to admonish him for his laziness and irresponsibility, but after getting acquainted with different personality types, now I realize that it was not all his fault—many factors were influenced by his personality of which he had little control.
MBTI is a useful tool in the workplace as well. It helps employers in choosing the right employees by assessing the skills, capabilities, and work style of job candidates. With the help of this comprehensive questionnaire, employers can effectively select employees based on person-organization fit and person-job fit. It can also help employees learn more about what roles they might be best suited for.
However, one of the biggest disadvantageous features of the Myers–Briggs model is that it assumes people are either one type or the other. For example, this model considers a person to be either extraverted or introverted, though, in reality, a person can be both of these to some degree based on the surrounding environment and ongoing situation.
Again, people often pigeonhole themselves based on their MBTI type—I am XXXX, so I cannot help check my tempter when I am pissed off. But, this approach is absolutely wrong. Belonging to a certain personality group doesn’t necessitate that one shouldn’t try to overcome the negative aspects of their personality. In some cases, people can lose beliefs in their capabilities too because of their MBTI type. But, shouldn’t people just do what they believe they can do? MBTI types are not supposed to control them, they’re meant to be used to provide insights and guidance.
Additionally, this model is often alleged to create stereotypes and misconceptions. For example, the ENTJ type people are often labeled as money hungry machines who will stop at nothing to climb their way to the top, which is definitely not true. Stereotyping people like this is, indeed, threatening.
Ultimately, despite the negative aspects, the MBTI model is still a particularly useful tool because it helps us discover who we really are and have a better our understandings of others. It is we who have to be considerate enough to not allow the model to dictate and limit our boundaries. Now that you know a bit about the Myers–Briggs model and MBTI, you can delve deeper into Myers-Briggs and personality tests. It’s a fascinating topic that can help you understand so much about yourself, your family, your friends, your classmates, and more. Go ahead and discover the fascinating world of diverse personalities! If you want to take the official test, you can check it out here.
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