Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The failures of MBTI/Jungian personality tests

Yeah, my sister, as a social worker, and other reasons, loves them.

So do other people.

Like a lot of bosses.

Like, I thought, my boss, but, as it turns out, the owner of my company. (In hindsight, I should have thought of that first.

The issue starts with the pseudoscience of Jung's original. It is arguable that there is a delineation into introverts and extroverts among humans, using the everyday meaning, and everyday spelling, of the second term, not Jung's. But even that is often situationally based.

The thinking/feeling is definitely so, it would seem, on situational use. At a minimum, there's no proof it's globally dominant.

The sensation/intuition could better be called reductionistic vs holistic thinking. That would be more accurate than Jung's idea, but still not a globally dominant one.

The MBTI's layer on top of that, of judging/perceiving, has even less support, and the whole idea behind it is wrong, pseudoscientific and unresearched. And, the 16 Personality Factors extension of the MBTI is worse yet, claiming to measure not just a tendency toward each of these personality factors but also the strength of that.

But, it's on a par with much of America's search for black-and-white, single-minded answers to complex questions. In the workforce, it's of a piece with things like Taylorism. Since companies cannot use IQ tests to screen would-be employees, the MBTI/16PF is used next. Note: the MBTI is NOT the MMPI, a test with a greater degree of legitimacy.

Now, new personality ratings like the Big Five are the hot thing. They're more scientific than the MBTI, but still nowhere near perfect. And, the Big Five's developers, per Wiki's link on the MBTI above, undercut their own science credibility by saying the MBTI can be incorporated into their test.

That's called pandering for business testing dollars.

Beyond Wiki's criticism section of its MBTI article, Skeptic's Dictionary has a great overview of its problems and those with the Jungian background.

Per a book I'm currently reading, "Weapons of Math Destruction," the MBTI may also be illegal, if not necessarily unconstitutional, as IQ tests are for employment, at least in certain situations. Any such test that leads a would-be employer to make a mental health diagnosis of a would-be employee is likely a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It definitely is if such a diagnosis becomes part of the hiring decision.

Good luck proving that of course.

Part of the solution?

With the 16PF, it's simple. Answer questions middle of the road. Throw an occasional answer slightly to highly one side or the other, but do it opposite what your normal tendency is, especially if it's theoretically not a big issue.

It's like having a burner email address, or even a burner physical address from your past for polls and surveys. (What, you don't do that?)

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