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Pseudoscientific Claims: Myers–Briggs Type Indicator

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The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator is a personality test that examines four categories of personality, and classifies ones work life, social interactions, and many more areas according to the results. The test uses pairs for each of its categories, and each person has one quality from each category, producing 16 different combinations.

This simplification of the human mind into such a small selection of highly specific “personalities” is a close claim to that of astrological signs which predict how your life will unfold according to arbitrary rules like birth months. With Myers-Briggs types, they have simply exchanged birth dates for a short quiz that does not allow for “out of the box” answers. I would argue the Meyers-Briggs test lacks reliability, due to the subjective questions often leading to alternate results if taken more than once, and a lack of validity as it claims such few questions can explain in large detail the inner working of a person’s mind. Because of all of this, it falls within the realm of pseudoscience as it is too generalised to be a useful tool to assess personality down to the level of detail it predicts. The Meyers-Briggs Test claims to tell a person who they are and what they will be based on a 93-question quiz. I find it hard to believe that every aspect of every human’s personality can be generalised into 16 categories. Each subsection alone, be it Introversion/Extroversion, Thinking/Feeling etc. is a binary choice that dictates a whole new personality. If you are, for example, 51% introverted you are considered the same as someone who is 99% introverted and yet completely different to someone who is 49% introverted.

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The test attempts to categorise the acute and very complex characteristics of the human mind with very broad statements. It feeds off the need for people to understand themselves and better themselves, similar to the humanistic field of psychology and yet would seem to have very little evidence to support its claim with regards to experimentation and peer review. The short nature and ease of access of the test allows almost everyone to take it, and a large majority of high schools, workplaces, and federal agencies use it as a tool because of this. The issue with the test is its claim to provide answers on psychological traits without the need to see a psychologist, causing many diagnosable issues to go un noticed. It seems many people tend to blame their personal behaviours on that of their Meyers-Briggs type, for example those with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) could be more likely to have been assigned the perceiving, and Intuitive traits which could in turn cause a person with undiagnosed ADHD to believe it is just in their personality rather than a diagnosable and treatable issue. This test assumes neurotypicality and does not consider factors such as mental illness or neurological disorders. I would like to see a longitudinal study on the accurateness of the tests predictions as well as the test included as a part of a variety of assessments before the assumption of the results are used.

The Meyers-Briggs personality test is a fun quiz to take, like checking out your star sign, but should not be considered a science. The company makes broad statements about people’s personalities, classifying its participants into specific groups with a binary based system. The test does not allow for “out of the box” thinking and is unable to provide the specific insight that a trained specialist can offer. The organisation makes a lot of money from peoples need to fit into standardised groups and could even hinder one’s decision to see a specialist due to their belief that specific issues are “just part of their personality”. The test creators should relay the subjectivity of the results, as well as provide far more proof of experimentation and peer review prior to making large claims about its abilities.

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