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Thread: MBTI is bullshit (but of course socionics isn't omg)

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    Default MBTI is bullshit (but of course socionics isn't omg)

    If this is already posted round here, I missed it.

    http://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947...st-meaningless

    The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably the most widely used personality test in the world.

    About 2 million people take it annually, at the behest of corporate HR departments, colleges, and even government agencies. The company that produces and markets the test makes around $20 million off it each year.

    The only problem? The test is completely meaningless.

    "There's just no evidence behind it," says Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who's written about the shortcomings of the Myers-Briggs previously. "The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you'll be in a situation, how you'll perform at your job, or how happy you'll be in your marriage."

    ANALYSIS SHOWS THE TEST IS TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE AT PREDICTING PEOPLE'S SUCCESS AT VARIOUS JOBS

    The test claims that, based on 93 questions, it can group all the people of the world into 16 different discrete "types" — and in doing so, serve as "a powerful framework for building better relationships, driving positive change, harnessing innovation, and achieving excellence." Most of the faithful think of it primarily as a tool for telling you your proper career choice.

    But the test was developed in the 1940s based off the totally untested theories of Carl Jung and is now thoroughly disregarded by the psychology community. Even Jung warned that his personality "types" were just rough tendencies he'd observed, rather than strict classifications. Several analyses have shown the test is totally ineffective at predicting people's success in various jobs, and that about half of the people who take it twice get different results each time.

    Yet you've probably heard people telling you that they're an ENFJ (extraverted intuitive feeling judging), an INTP (introverted intuitive thinking perceiving), or another one of the 16 types drawn from his work, and you may have even been given this test in a professional setting. Here's an explanation of why these labels are so meaningless — and why no organization in the 21st century should rely on the test for anything.


    In 1921, Jung published the book Psychological Types. In it, he put forth a few different interesting, unsupported theories on how the human brain operates.

    Among other things, he explained that humans roughly fall into two main types: perceivers and judgers. The former group could be further split into people who prefer sensing and others who prefer intuiting, while the latter could be split into thinkers and feelers, making for a total of four types of people. All four types, additionally, could be divided based on attitudes into introverts and extraverts (Jung's spelling). These categories, though, were approximate: "Every individual is an exception to the rule," Jung wrote.

    Even these rough categories, though, didn't come out of controlled experiments or data. "This was before psychology was an empirical science," says Grant, the Penn psychologist. "Jung literally made these up based on his own experiences." But Jung's influence on the early field was enormous, and this idea of "types" in particular caught on.

    NONE OF THIS CAME OUT OF CONTROLLED EXPERIMENTS OR DATA — IT WAS ALL THEORETICAL

    Jung's principles were later adapted into a test by Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of Americans who had no formal training in psychology. To learn the techniques of test-making and statistical analysis, Briggs worked with Edward Hay, an HR manager for a Philadelphia bank.

    They began testing their "Type Indicator" in 1942. It copied Jung's types, but slightly altered the terminology, and modified it so that a person was assigned one possibility or the other in all four categories, based on their answers to a series of two-choice questions.

    Raise two (the number of possibilities in each category) to the fourth power (the number of categories) and you get 16: the different types of people there apparently are in the world. Myers and Briggs gave titles to each of these types, like the Executive, the Caregiver, the Scientist, and the Idealist.

    The test has grown enormously in popularity over the years — especially since it was taken over by the company CPP in 1975 — but has changed little. It still assigns you a four-letter type to represent which result you got in each of the four categories:


    The Myers-Briggs uses false, limited binaries

    With most traits, humans fall on different points along a spectrum. If you ask people whether they prefer to think or feel, or whether they prefer to judge or perceive, the majority will tell you a little of both. Jung himself admitted as much, noting that the binaries were useful ways of thinking about people, but writing that "there is no such thing as a pure extravert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum."

    But the test is built entirely around the basis that people are all one or the other. It arrives at the conclusion by giving people questions such as "You tend to sympathize with other people" and offering them only two blunt answers: "yes" or "no."

    "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PURE EXTRAVERT OR INTROVERT," JUNG WROTE

    It'd be one thing if there were good empirical reasons for these strange binary choices that don't seem to describe the reality we know. But they come from the disregarded theories of a early 20th century thinker who believed in things like ESP and the collective unconscious.

    Actual data tells psychologists that these traits do not have a bimodal distribution. Tracking a group of people's interactions with others, for instance, shows that as Jung noted, there aren't really pure extroverts and introverts, but mostly people who fall somewhere in between.

    All four of the categories in the Myers-Briggs suffer from these kinds of problems, and psychologists say they aren't an effective way of distinguishing between different personality types. "Contemporary social scientists are rarely studying things like whether you make decisions based on feelings or rational calculus — because all of us use both of these," Grant says. "These categories all create dichotomies, but the characteristics on either end are either independent from each other, or sometimes even go hand-in-hand." Even data from the Myers-Briggs test itself shows that most people are somewhere in the middle for any one category, and just end up being pigeonholed into one or the other.

    This is why some psychologists have shifted from talking about personality traits to personality states — and why it's extremely hard to find a real psychologist anywhere who uses the Myers-Briggs with patients.

    There's also another related problem with these limited choices: look at the chart above, and you'll notice that words like "selfish," "lazy," or "mean" don't appear anywhere. No matter what type you're assigned, you get a flattering description of yourself as a "thinker," "performer," or "nurturer."

    This isn't a test designed to accurately categorize people, but a test designed to make them feel happy after taking it. This is one of the reasons why it's persisted for so many years in the corporate world after being disregarded by psychologists.

    Theoretically, people might still get value out of the Myers-Briggs if it accurately indicated which end of a spectrum they were closest to for any given category.

    But the problem with that idea is that the fact that the test is notoriously inconsistent. Research has found that as much as 50 percent of people arrive at a different result the second time they take a test, even if it's just five weeks later.

    AS MUCH AS 50 PERCENT OF PEOPLE ARRIVE AT A DIFFERENT RESULT THE SECOND TIME THEY TAKE THE TEST

    That's because the traits it aims to measure aren't the ones that are consistently different among people. Most of us vary in these traits over time — depending on our mood when we take the test, for instance, we may or may not think that we sympathize with people. But the test simply tells us whether we're "thinking" or "feeling" based on how we answered a handful of binary questions, with no room in between.

    Another indicator that the Myers-Briggs is inaccurate is that several different analyses have shown it's not particularly effective at predicting people's success at different jobs.

    If the test gives people such inaccurate results, why do so many still put stock in it? One reason is that the flattering, vague descriptions for many of the types have huge amounts of overlap — so many people could fit into several of them.

    This is called the Forer effect, and is a technique long used by purveyors of astrology, fortune-telling, and other sorts of pseudoscience to persuade people they have accurate information about them.

    The Myers-Briggs is largely disregarded by psychologists

    All this is why psychologists — the people who focus on understanding and analyzing human behavior — almost completely disregard the Myers-Briggs in contemporary research.

    Search for any prominent psychology journal for analysis of personality tests, and you'll find mentions of several different systems that have been developed in the decades since the test was introduced, but not the Myers-Briggs itself. Apart from a few analyses finding it to be flawed, virtually no major psychology journals have published research on the test — almost all of it comes in dubious outlets like The Journal of Psychological Type, which were specifically created for this type of research.

    VIRTUALLY NO MAJOR PSYCHOLOGY JOURNALS HAVE PUBLISHED RESEARCH ON THE TEST

    CPP, the company that publishes the test, has three leading psychologists on their board, but none of them have used it whatsoever in their research. "It would be questioned by my academic colleagues," Carl Thoresen, a Stanford psychologist and CPP board member, admitted to the Washington Post in 2012.

    Apart from the introversion/extroversion aspect of the Myers-Briggs, the newer, empirically driven tests focus on entirely different categories. The Five Factor model measures people's openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism — factors that do differ widely among people, according to actual data collected. And there's some evidence that this scheme have some predictive power in determining people's ability to be successful at various jobs and in other situations.

    One thing it doesn't have: the marketing machine that surrounds the Myers-Briggs.

    So what is the Myers-Briggs useful for?

    The Myers-Briggs is useful for one thing: entertainment. There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking the test as a fun, interesting activity, like a BuzzFeed quiz.

    But there is something wrong with CPP peddling the test as "Reliable and valid, backed by ongoing global research and development investment." The company makes an estimated $20 million annually, with the Myers-Briggs as its flagship product. Among other things, it charges between $15 and $40 to each person who wants to take the test, and $1,700 to each person who wants to become a certified test administrator.

    ABOUT 200 FEDERAL AGENCIES REPORTEDLY WASTE MONEY ON THIS TEST

    Why would someone pay this much to administer a flawed test? Because once you have that title, you can sell your services as a career coach to both people looking for work and the thousands of major companies — such as McKinsey & Co., General Motors, and a reported 89 of the Fortune 100 — that use the test to separate employees and potential hires into "types" and assign them appropriate training programs and responsibilities. Once certified, test administrators become cheerleaders of the Myers-Briggs, ensuring that use of the outdated instrument is continued.

    If private companies want to throw their money away on the Myers-Briggs, that's their prerogative. But about 200 federal agencies reportedly waste money on the test too, including the State Department and the CIA. The military in particular relies heavily on the Myers-Briggs, and the EPA has given it to about a quarter of its 17,000 employees.

    It's 2015. Thousands of professional psychologists have evaluated the century-old Myers-Briggs, found it to be inaccurate and arbitrary, and devised better systems for evaluating personality. Let's stop using this outdated test — which has about as much scientific validity as your astrological sign — and move on to something else.

    Correction: this piece previously stated that the military uses the Myers-Briggs for promotions in particular, rather than using it as a general tool.

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    Well I like socionics better, but that's different from being objective about how good what test is. Adam Grant's slant strikes me as too cursory, and this article like many makes the cardinal error of judging MBTI's empirical validity next to Jung.. Myers worked a HELL of a lot to produce the test having decent empirical properties, following Jung's ideas but heavily refining them precisely because she wanted a more empirical theory.

    The real truth is MBTI does little to no good in understanding Jungian functions or modeling cognition, and its lack-of-in-the-middle option and forced choice format make it worse at fulfilling its own most natural aims... it needs to be really explicit and emphatic about that possibility.
    But used as it is, it's not a bad test and it does have a lot of research behind it in terms of pure quantitative stats...particularly if you acknowledge (as Myers used to) that you could have no preference between any two items on the test, and could end up more in-the-middle than significantly differentiated, as Jung acknowledged many are like.

    Used the way Myers presented it, aka as a way of understanding Jungian functions, yes it fails like hell. But used purely as a test it correlates quite well with the Five Factor Model, and has a lot of research to bring it up to speed on having good psychometric properties.

    That said, no overly standardized test tends to be conceptually rich. Generally you're going to get more insight reading lots of interesting psychological insights that have to do with these ideas than just trying to sort yourself by dichotomies.
    Jung wasn't empirical, and from that standpoint a lot of his ideas need revision. But the foundation to his thought strikes me as philosophically rich and having depth, and someone willing to challenge his insights and play with them can get a lot out of them.

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    High Priestess glam's Avatar
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    i remember seeing this article a few months ago. it's similar to other critiques of MBTI & other typology systems that pop up sometimes, in that while they may bring up valid criticisms, these kinds of articles also tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater, imo.
    Quote Originally Posted by chemical View Post
    Well I like socionics better, but that's different from being objective about how good what test is. Adam Grant's slant strikes me as too cursory, and this article like many makes the cardinal error of judging MBTI's empirical validity next to Jung.. Myers worked a HELL of a lot to produce the test having decent empirical properties, following Jung's ideas but heavily refining them precisely because she wanted a more empirical theory.
    agreed re: the shallow criticism of this article. when discussing MBTI, it doesn't really separate the background of the theory from its application. the fact that corporations and the military, etc. have used the results of the MBTI test in a flawed manner doesn't necessarily mean that the theory's ideas have no explanatory power regarding people's personalities & behavior. as you pointed out, MBTI tests are behavior-based rather than cognitive (a probable reason why so many people receive different results when re-taking the test.) it's disingenuous of the author to compare Myers-Briggs types with the results of astrology or a Buzzfeed quiz, simply on the basis that the theory is unscientific. the theory and its background are not the same as the test and the application of it.

    socionics doesn't suffer from all the same weaknesses as MBTI. while it's also theoretical, and like MBTI is derived from Jung's "unempirical" ideas, it provides a testable means of assessing its own validity in the predictions offered by intertype relations theory. most people who use socionics don't depend on tests to determine someone's sociotype, though obviously there are major problems with the lack of an objective, fullproof means in which to determine a person's type.

    i think articles such as this can be emotionally satisfying to those who are frustrated with typology, with all its flaws and and the limits of strict categorizations that often don't seem to match up with reality. it's certainly easier to say "it's all bullshit" and dismiss everything instead of accepting that typology theories, even with their flaws, at the very least are often based on ideas & insights worth looking into.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glam
    it's certainly easier to say "it's all bullshit" and dismiss everything instead of accepting that typology theories, even with their flaws, at the very least are often based on ideas & insights worth looking into.
    Yep exactly.

    I dislike how the proponents of socionics tend to use more elitism "zomg MBTI is behavior and so shallow" than a thorough analysis of the issue and acknowledging what is flawed in each side. I also dislike how proponents of MBTI toot the horn that Myers went and got all this psychometric testing research done, so yay, that somehow means the MBTI works better than socionics. All that means to me is ultimately that Myers figured out a way to measure some things related to Jung's ideas in a way that produces a very standardized result -- that is, one where you can compare people's results on a scale having decent measurement properties. Many concepts interesting to modeling personality don't fit in those 4 scales in any neat way, so you kind of have to build a speculative edifice that you can't apply in as standardized a way... which says nothing if they're insightful or not (I think they often are)
    Even more idiotic is when they do this tooting and then use the cognitive functions models of the MBTI, which do NOT have the same research/empirical validation, is probably even more speculative than socionics, and honestly seems to have much worse reasoning behind it (I almost always found it's better to toss MBTI's take on the functions altogether...Jung can be good in some places, albeit needing revision, and socionics applied nontraditionally can be good)

    Like I got done stating in another thread, in terms of personality in a totally empirical sense, realistically if one is going to just measure things flatly, people's traits don't tend to fit into any neat models. They just kind of are what they are. You can only work with structurally neat models if willing to select key, central focal points of the psyche to conceptualize, not if wishing to be as empirically exhaustive as possible. Being exhaustive as such can wind up resembling something more of a description than an analysis.

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    So how is Socionics actually testable via the way interrelations play out? To test relationships, you'd need first to accurately establish the personalities involved. I've yet to see people converge on typings. Members of this particular forum seem to argue less about typing than in the past, having evidently given up on convincing one another of anything, so we have several competing versions of Socionics depending on who's doing the typing.

    The article is "shallow" because from an empirical data point of view, MBTI is easy to discredit. It doesn't need to delve any deeper. One could criticize the author for not leaving an open end for the empirical establishment of cognitive differences in line with what Jung proposed.

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    This article reads like many sensationalized articles on various topics common to sites all over the web. The criticism is shallow with evidence that could be easily found doing independent research. I've posted bits and pieces on my views on MBTI around various threads in this forum, but there are some important things I'd like to point out:

    MBTI types individuals solely based on their self-perceived behaviors, without explaining their actual personal desires. Socionics has the theoretical backbone of Model A, which organizes Jung's (albeit edited) functions in a way specific to one of the 16 Sociotypes. Functions have been indispensable to Socionics since its conception. MBTI began with the 4 dichotomies based off of Jung's work, but without actually organizing his functions. MBTI later superimposed a flawed model of Jung's functions to the types, but the problem arises when you try to use it to explain Jungian functions. Socionics is more for self-realization because it provides a way of using Jung-ish functions to understand yourself and others around you.

    I would say that MBTI is a good way to introduce people to Socionics; a more substantial theory. Without it, many of us wouldn't be here. What I don't want to see is people using MBTI theory in Socionics study: their roots are so different that few parallels can be drawn.

    And yes, Socionics is flawed enough that it probably shouldn't be taken seriously as a science. But it's a far cry from MBTI nonetheless.



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    Yeah, so the thing about just inherently putting down Jung because of his methods never sits well with me, because while I thoroughly agree the empirical side of Jung's ideas leaves much to be desired, that's not his strength IMHO.

    Jung was an intuitive philosopher. Let's face it -- by calling himself a so-called scientist, he meant he was observing "facts" in much the same way, say, an esoterically minded ILI might observe "facts" -- he got strong glimpses into the inner workings of the psyche, and given they were internal glimpses, it was hard to put down into standardized science which often operates in a more sensation-logic friendly way -- it turned out to be more akin to philosophy.
    Which is not bad -- we have to remember even modern cognitive science turns to philosophizing, because part of the point is to model how the psyche operates and conceptualize how it is meaning is produced. It's not all about capturing biological processes on paper or something, a lot of it really is precise conceptualization.

    I'd say those who combine modern empirical research with Jung can get really cool insights.

    2) As I said, MBTI just isn't one-sidedly empirically bullshit (which isn't to say it doesn't have flaws) -- it has got a lot of empirical validation behind it, and the main sense in which it IS bullshit is a) they present it as dichotomies, when the truth is a lot of people are in-the-middle, and Jung even predicted this -- e.g. he said many are in the middle on E/I and also said people can have 2 developed auxiliaries or 2 undifferentiated auxiliaries b) they try to propose these unbelievable correlations between the dichotomies and cognitive processes

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    I should say that the whole idea of these neat structural layouts like Ti Ne Si Fe and so forth is based more on pure structural conceptualization more than empiricism, so like I posted elsewhere, we unlikely should hope that this somehow records and classifies the exact factual nature of the 8 processes.

    The best we can say is that there's definitely a grain of truth to the socionics model, because the structural layout does tend to be some fusion of observed empirical trends and more conceptual considerations regarding how people think (e.g. that the ego must process perceptually and rationally).
    Perhaps what is to be expected in a Te-demonstrative NeTi ego inventor.

    On the empirical side, the personality dimensions seem to be more normally distributed than bimodally, meaning one would expect people might tend to have preferences, but are somehow generally not extreme. This likely is why people see a grain of truth to the alternating E/I model, and likely also why people tend to agree that the ego tends to some balance between perception and judgment, and also that sometimes people have a prominent HA (i.e. only one function pair tends to be strongly differentiated). It might even have something to do with why people tend to have only 1/2, say, judging functions strongly developed, with the other more lagging (I don't tend to think of them as opposites, but as compensatory/complementary).

    It also tends to be why people don't see the truth as being "are you N or are you S" and prefer the more conditional questions of "are you Ne or Ni valuing."

    At the same time of course, all these are just understandable viewpoints, not hard and fast empirically grounded rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN View Post
    If this is already posted round here, I missed it.

    http://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947...st-meaningless
    I don't like posts often, but when I do I like posts disproving typology.

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    I don't have much to add to the posts here, they already said everything important but I found this part of the article er, funny

    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN View Post
    (...) But the test is built entirely around the basis that people are all one or the other. It arrives at the conclusion by giving people questions such as "You tend to sympathize with other people" and offering them only two blunt answers: "yes" or "no."(...)
    Person who wrote that sentence doesn't know the meaning of the expression "tend to"... not the same as "all one or the other". Preference in MBTI just means existence of a tendency, not some 100% "on" or "off" quality.

    That's because the traits it aims to measure aren't the ones that are consistently different among people. Most of us vary in these traits over time — depending on our mood when we take the test, for instance, we may or may not think that we sympathize with people.
    From the latter the former simply doesn't follow. The former statement could be valid but not because of the "reasoning" that comes afterwards.. Above expression "tend to" also still escapes the understanding of the author of the article.

    But the test simply tells us whether we're "thinking" or "feeling" based on how we answered a handful of binary questions, with no room in between.
    Those binary questions with "no room in between" have actually measured correlations to type and so overall a prediction can be made about what the actual preferences of the test taker are based on the answers; it's only an estimate, not a black/white yes or no. Those percentage numbers you get on the official tests reflect that estimation.

    I could go on but I got bored at this point..

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    If this were true about Socionics we wouldn't have someone like a. LSE coming onto the forum and opening a Delta duality thread and being very accurate and precise about it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subteigh View Post
    I don't like how the article doesn't use real reasoning for anything, just bs hints all over the place.

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