Is it possible to fail the Myers-Briggs Personality Test?

I recently finished a book on editing. In that book, there’s a section on a writer’s voice. The author suggests when a writer knows themself, they can spot and enhance their voice in a manuscript. It was a great book, but one of her suggestions was to take a personality test.

Okay. I want to know myself more. Maybe it will improve my writing and enhance my voice. Off I went to the website. One hundred and eighty-six questions later, here’s what I learned.

I have no idea if I could talk endlessly to a group of people or a few close friends. I don’t think I could chat with anyone endlessly, but that wasn’t an option.

I’m not sure if I prefer to make plans or act spontaneously. It depends. Sometimes I love it when Michael says, “Let’s go watch the sunset.” Other times he can suggest the grocery store, and I’m pissed because that was not the plan.

I like the words “solid” and “fluid.” I sometimes make lists but do my best work under deadline pressure. I’m not crazy about change, but the same thing all the time is boring. I want mercy and justice.

After completing the test, I have my four-letter category and a brief description of my personality type. I am skeptical, critical, independent, and determined. I have an original mind and a great drive to implement my ideas and goals. I like to organize and carry through on complex jobs. I have high standards of competence for myself and others.

Yikes. I sound like a real treat.

Is it accurate? I have no idea. Some days, I guess. Other days I’m gullible, needy, and lazy. (I’m pretty much always critical, they got that part right.) How the hell does anyone declare they have an “original mind?” Aren’t all minds original?

And I rarely have “great drive” for more than half a day. I do like to organize (aka move things around), but what is a complex job? Are we talking about figuring out a rocket ship or locating the loose end of packing tape?

I’m sure personality test people (if that’s a thing) would say these tests help determine your most-of-the-time behavior. Companies use these tests for hiring or putting together dynamic teams.

With respect, now that I’ve participated in one of these things, I think it’s silly. Anything that serves to put human beings neatly into an LMNOP category, group, class, or clique assumes an arrogance that everything can be explained.

People in Group A are artsy. People in Group B are analytical. People in Group A like parties. People in Group B like to read.

What about the artsy analysts who like a good party over a bad book? Human beings are complicated. We are endless combinations of flavors, sometimes within a week or even 24 hours.

Also, maybe I’m not self-aware, but I could not definitively answer over half the questions. Perhaps I should ask the people who live and work with me every day to take the test. Maybe they’ll know whether I introduce people at parties or wait for an introduction.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to making things up in a voice I hope knows itself better than its writer.

My thoughts from the laundry room. Stomach Sleeper.


4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I always liked that particular test, since it was more detailed and had more interesting results than some of the others. It helped me to understand some of my friends too. But you are right, I know, about how complicated we are and the fact that all categories break down eventually for one reason or another when it comes to those kinds of tests.

  2. I’m also sceptical towards these tests, but I think you captured my personality in your post: “artsy analysts who like a good party over a bad book” 😁

  3. My “Lessons From Life” so far–don’t take these personality tests. They are very tempting but I like being “Me” and hate the idea of being slotted into someone’s classifications. I agree with Nan, just be yourself. I”m retired too and enjoy meeting people who have opinions and comments and just embrace each day. . .

  4. Yeah, the Meyers-Briggs test…just be yourself, Tracy. I’ve taken it; I know the rationale behind the results, but the only thing I really got out of my results is that only 4% of the population think like me. This means that 96% don’t and if I wish to communicate effectively with other people in my career, then I have to find a way to think differently. Did it work? Well, I am retired now so it doesn’t really matter. I just muddle on. ~nan

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