@jeffhargarten

a blog of data, dystopia and despair

  • MBTI is the New Astrology

    First, no offense to anyone who puts stock in these sorts of things. I have friends who believe deeply in astrology, Myers-Briggs and all manner of similar systems for dividing people into easily-understandable meat silos.

    Anyone can believe what they want.

    But let’s not for a moment pretend that all beliefs are created equal, or that all are equally backed by scientific consensus.

    Millennials are flocking to astrology and other forms of spirituality1. It’s not only noted in the media, as I also see it in my social circles.

    But many are also delving into the world of Myers-Briggs Type Indicators2. That’s right, those personality tests that decide what kind of extrovert or introvert you are seem to be all the rage among my generation3.

    And it’s not just young people, but businesses, colleges, and other collaborative spaces that are leaning on MBTI tests to try to understand its colleagues. I had to take it all the way back in community college, and have been required to take it a couple times since as well (though luckily not within the realm of journalism).

    It’s also all over online dating apps. OKCupid and Tinder profiles have become an alphabet soup of MBTI labels, and I’ve run into skepticism from those asking what my type is and why I don’t display it.

    The problem?

    Scientifically, the test has little-to-no merit4, and the origins of MBTI are dubious at best5.

    6

    On its face, it’s completely harmless. This 60-year-old personality test isn’t even remotely new. It can be fun, and like astrology some people may find their personality test results suit them perfectly and provide insights into their being.

    But there are issues when people who don’t want to be identified in a certain way based on their perceived MBTI type or astrological sign start being treated differently based on that signifier.

    In short, it’s irritating to be pre-judged based on something that means nothing.

    At the end of the day, I’ll chalk this phenonmenon down to “mild annoyance” – but it has been a noticible shift in the last couple years.

    1. Paul, Kari. “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” MarketWatch. October 23, 2017. Link 

    2. “MBTI Basics” The Myers & Briggs Foundation. Link 

    3. Bottger, Caroline. “Bizarrely, the Myers-Briggs personality test is having a millennial moment” MarketWatch. October 23, 2017. Link 

    4. Dr. Grant, Adam. “Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die” Psychology Today. September 18, 2017. Link 

    5. Burnett, Dean. “Nothing personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test” The Guardian. March 19, 2013. Link 

    6. truTV. “Adam Ruins Everything” YouTube. August 1, 2017. Link 

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