Personality Cafe banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,804 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What I want to do here is criticize some of the concepts/constructs underlying the MBTI itself. I've been skeptical of the MBTI for some time, but I recently read about the Jungian functions. And they made a lot of sense! So, using that as a point of comparison, I was able to see the flaws in the MBTI more clearly.


Online descriptions of MBTI types still use Jung's function theory, even though the MBTI test is unrelated.

If you change a letter in a person's MBTI type and look at the changes in their Jungian functions, there's very little rhyme or reason to it. The MBTI and Jung functions are pretty much independent, even though they use the same naming scheme.

According to Jungian functions, INFJ and INFP have the following dominant/auxiliary functions:

INFJ: Ni/Fe
INFP: Fi/Ne


When you look at MBTI descriptions, INFJ and INFP are pretty similar types. The online type descriptions are pretty similar. Except, they seem to emphasize INFJs' mystical aura or preternatural empathy (or something) while INFP descriptions tend to emphasize artistic production, commitment to morals/principles, and activism. These MBTI descriptions stretch the Jungian functions, but there is some relationship. The descriptions for these MBTI types are somewhat consistent with the Jungian functions. (You can kind of imagine Ni corresponding to insight/foresight and Fi relating to moral values.)

However, if you look at the questions, it makes no sense at all. The distinctions between J and P on the test questions have to do with neatness, organization, promptness, and spontaneity. If I take a hypothetical person and make them more organized, does that suddenly mean that all of their cognitive functions are flipped? Suddenly, their Fi and Ne are shadow functions that are inaccessible, and the only thing I've changed about them is that they clean their room!

This example shows that the MBTI, as used today, is something totally independent from the Jungian functions. However, type descriptions on the internet still try to merge the two. But this is a mistake if you look at the actual questions asked on the MBTI. It's pretty strange to think that changing a person's responses on any of the MBTI letters would result in a 180-degree shift in how they process information (Jung functions). It seems like they're looking at two completely different things.


The MBTI letters themselves contain subdimensions that don't have to all coexist in the same individual.

If you look at the questions on the MBTI test, the descriptions of individual dimensions/letters, or just the stuff floating around on the forum, it's clear that the individual letters describe clusters of traits. However, are these traits inside each cluster actually related?

Examples:

1. Judging/Perceiving
a) Prompt, concerned with completing tasks and arriving at events on time
b) Clean, neat, have organized desks/rooms, have filing systems, etc.
c) Non-spontaneous; like things to be planned ahead of time, have difficulty adapting to change, etc.

Couldn't a person be some of these but not all of these? Are these all really connected? I know plenty of people who follow through on their responsibilities promptly, but they are spontaneous and have messy rooms. And I happen to be someone who is prompt and non-spontaneous, but I don't really adhere to a strict organizing system.

2. Feeling/Thinking
a) Interest in logical, technical, scientific, mathematical fields/ideas
b) Tactful/polite
c) Perceptive of others' emotions and underlying motivations
d) Perceptive of one's own emotions and motivations
e) Sentimental/touchy-feely

I see all of these thrown around and intermingled.

3. Sensation/Intuition
a) Respect for tradition/conventionality
b) Awareness of physical senses
c) Tendency to think abstractly

The biggest reason why typism exists is that the MBTI assumes that if you type as a particular letter, you have all of the traits associated with that letter. Typism is a consequence of the conceptual confusion that is at the heart of the MBTI. When you just look at what each letter contains, there's absolutely no reason why a person must have all of those traits. I believe that a lot of typism is not the user's fault. The test just describes people poorly, and people believe the test. Anybody who takes the MBTI completely seriously is bound to engage in typism.


The MBTI places things on opposite poles that aren't necessarily incompatible

1. If each letter of the MBTI contains subdimensions that are actually independent, then there would be no contradiction in a person being high in two opposite letters.

Example: A person high in both S and N might be good at both abstract thinking and letting go of their thoughts and immersing themselves in the here-and-now of the 5 senses.

2. Even if two personality elements are contradictory and conflicting, that still wouldn't necessarily stop a person from possessing both of them.

The MBTI reduces people to either/or. People are much more complex. A lot of what makes people interesting and unique is that they have internal contradictions. People can have multiple selves, and these do not necessarily have to be in harmony. A part of growth is working through these contradictions.

Ex: A strong I tries to be more social, succeeds, and then finds that these new qualities conflict with aspects of his former self.

*This also leads me to seriously question the utility of the MBTI as a tool for growth. The MBTI might stunt people's growth by convincing them that they're strictly one set of traits when they're actually more than that. People who are trying to find themselves might be especially prone to latching onto the first identity that's given to them that seems to make sense.


A person's MBTI score is ambiguous--primarily because there are subdimensions that the MBTI completely ignores.


The MBTI would give the same score to all of the following cases:

1. Answering "yes" to most N and S questions
2. Answering "no" to most N and S questions
3. Answering 1/2 "yes" and 1/2 "no" for N and S questions.
4. Answering in the middle for all N/S questions

*This last option actually isn't actually possible, even though it should be. The actual MBTI and most internet MBTI tests are forced-choice questionnaires. Which means that you can only say "yes" or "no". There isn't any "strongly agree", "strongly disagree", or "sometimes".

The Jungian personality theory actually predicts that while people have a basic personality type, they can increase or decrease in different dimensions--and these changes are relatively independent from one another. So, just because a person increases their Te doesn't mean they lose their Fi at the same time. It's more like you gain a new ability, and then you start applying it in situations where you might have used an older ability. You adapt yourself based on the situation.

The MBTI splits things into black or white and assumes that if you move toward one pole, you must be moving away from the other. The Jungian functions are different and make more sense. They allow a person to be high on both Te and Fi or low on both. It's a more expansive view of the self, and it's more congruent with the idea of a changing self.

This brings me to my next point.


MBTI test results are unstable.

This isn't a flaw of the MBTI in particular so much as of personality tests in general. This isn't to say that personality fluctuates in the same way as mood. But, people do change over time, and the way that they respond to personality tests is skewed by certain factors.

1. The social context/culture that a person is in

People establish their identities through social comparison. When deciding whether you are "neat", "friendly", "extroverted", etc. you're comparing yourself to the people around you. These words derive their meaning from contexts, and they don't mean anything outside of a particular social context. Whether you're typing yourself or somebody else is typing you, all types are expressed relative to a particular set of norms. Your personal identification as being this or that depends on what you're comparing yourself to.

Example: Assume two people behave similarly in terms of extroversion. The first person might type themselves as an I because they are around very extroverted people. The second person, however, might type themselves as an E.

This doesn't make the MBTI invalid, but it does mean that everybody has a different definition of what it means to be an INFP or an INTP. One's type might depend on the context of comparison. Depending on what a person is primed to, they'll answer the MBTI differently.

2. Recent life experiences

This is very similar, but it goes back to the same idea of context. If you recently went to a party and talked to a lot of people, you're more likely to type yourself as an E. If you haven't been to any parties lately and all of your friends are going to parties, you might type yourself as an I.

3. Situational traits

Identity is unstable, and the level of instability depends on the person. Some people are very set in their ways. Other people change depending on the situation. Other people behave consistently, but they're trying to change themselves. The MBTI doesn't really address any of this, except to suggest that people are basically the same across situations.

Jung's function theory provides a framework that can explain fluidity in a person's identity. It is very consistent with Jungian functions to say that people apply different parts of themselves depending on the situation. A person might be sociable/outspoken in one situation and reserved/anxious in another. But the MBTI, by its nature, boxes people in.

Marino suggests a way to transcend that boxiness, but this is definitely an unconventional interpretation of the MBTI. This is more akin to how Jungian functions would operate.

http://personalitycafe.com/myers-briggs-forum/5282-house-analogy-how-mbti-does-not-put-you-box.html


tl;dr
:laughing:
 

·
Subterranean Homesick Alien
Joined
·
11,928 Posts
The reason I don't think your type boxes you in is that it doesn't explain how exactly you will act in certain situations or what you will like and all that shit. MBTI tests don't really go very deep into actual perception and brain process...which is why I like cognitive functions.

Plus, MBTI is extremely black and white. Js are organized, Ps are disorganized, Es are social, Is are not social, Ss are concrete, etc.

That's why I think a lot of people may have trouble finding their type or may view it as boxing them in, because MBTI does seem to explain things in black and white terms and is also very surface.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,022 Posts
It's kind of like poorly measured astrology.
But I'll still look up my star signs from time to time, and even do tarot cards.
Get a bit of attribution theory going.

The bottom line is the same as any other personality test (The Big Five/FFM/HEXACO); it can only describe the traits it measure, and the more they are elaborated on the less accurate they become.
Theoretical explanations could only ever be observational, which is highly unreliable.
And, yes, it also doesn't help having items on double ended spectrums. E and I maybe, but the others?
hmmm

But, it's still fun.
I wouldn't use it in I&O :p
...unless I wanted to get sued :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,804 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
it can only describe the traits it measure, and the more they are elaborated on the less accurate they become.
I didn't think of that. That really is a problem.
I wouldn't use it in I&O :p
...unless I wanted to get sued :D
:tongue: Yeah...

Yeah, MBTI is still fun. And it's got some merit if people gathered here can find commonalities and unite around them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
I like studying MBTI types. Though yes, I will agree the test seems to be flawed, as it isn't always accurate. I like the simplistic nature of it, actually. It gives me a glimpse into who someone is, and after that, I can learn about their interests, and many other factors about them that have little to no relation to the MBTI. I will say it helps to understand others to a certain extent, along with the Jungian cognitive functions. But it's certainly not absolute. And I also have to stress that the MBTI is supposed to define someone's preferences, not necessarily their behaviours. Like you mention, there are many circumstances that change behaviour like recent past experiences, culture, or other external pressures. For me, looking back on the times in my life when I haven't had much pressure on me, such as my early childhood, and seemingly the few years of my life, it seems to me like the INFP type fits me pretty well. There have been other times in my life when I have had other priorities, other pressures, and I've appeared to behave like other types. So, you know, it's very general. A little glimpse of a person. One cannot usually judge too much about a person, I think, in knowing their MBTI type.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
305 Posts
What I want to do here is criticize some of the concepts/constructs underlying the MBTI itself. I've been skeptical of the MBTI for some time, but I recently read about the Jungian functions. And they made a lot of sense! So, using that as a point of comparison, I was able to see the flaws in the MBTI more clearly.


Online descriptions of MBTI types still use Jung's function theory, even though the MBTI test is unrelated.

If you change a letter in a person's MBTI type and look at the changes in their Jungian functions, there's very little rhyme or reason to it. The MBTI and Jung functions are pretty much independent, even though they use the same naming scheme.

According to Jungian functions, INFJ and INFP have the following dominant/auxiliary functions:

INFJ: Ni/Fe
INFP: Fi/Ne


When you look at MBTI descriptions, INFJ and INFP are pretty similar types. The online type descriptions are pretty similar. Except, they seem to emphasize INFJs' mystical aura or preternatural empathy (or something) while INFP descriptions tend to emphasize artistic production, commitment to morals/principles, and activism. These MBTI descriptions stretch the Jungian functions, but there is some relationship. The descriptions for these MBTI types are somewhat consistent with the Jungian functions. (You can kind of imagine Ni corresponding to insight/foresight and Fi relating to moral values.)

However, if you look at the questions, it makes no sense at all. The distinctions between J and P on the test questions have to do with neatness, organization, promptness, and spontaneity. If I take a hypothetical person and make them more organized, does that suddenly mean that all of their cognitive functions are flipped? Suddenly, their Fi and Ne are shadow functions that are inaccessible, and the only thing I've changed about them is that they clean their room!

This example shows that the MBTI, as used today, is something totally independent from the Jungian functions. However, type descriptions on the internet still try to merge the two. But this is a mistake if you look at the actual questions asked on the MBTI. It's pretty strange to think that changing a person's responses on any of the MBTI letters would result in a 180-degree shift in how they process information (Jung functions). It seems like they're looking at two completely different things.


The MBTI letters themselves contain subdimensions that don't have to all coexist in the same individual.

If you look at the questions on the MBTI test, the descriptions of individual dimensions/letters, or just the stuff floating around on the forum, it's clear that the individual letters describe clusters of traits. However, are these traits inside each cluster actually related?

Examples:

1. Judging/Perceiving
a) Prompt, concerned with completing tasks and arriving at events on time
b) Clean, neat, have organized desks/rooms, have filing systems, etc.
c) Non-spontaneous; like things to be planned ahead of time, have difficulty adapting to change, etc.

Couldn't a person be some of these but not all of these? Are these all really connected? I know plenty of people who follow through on their responsibilities promptly, but they are spontaneous and have messy rooms. And I happen to be someone who is prompt and non-spontaneous, but I don't really adhere to a strict organizing system.

2. Feeling/Thinking
a) Interest in logical, technical, scientific, mathematical fields/ideas
b) Tactful/polite
c) Perceptive of others' emotions and underlying motivations
d) Perceptive of one's own emotions and motivations
e) Sentimental/touchy-feely

I see all of these thrown around and intermingled.

3. Sensation/Intuition
a) Respect for tradition/conventionality
b) Awareness of physical senses
c) Tendency to think abstractly

The biggest reason why typism exists is that the MBTI assumes that if you type as a particular letter, you have all of the traits associated with that letter. Typism is a consequence of the conceptual confusion that is at the heart of the MBTI. When you just look at what each letter contains, there's absolutely no reason why a person must have all of those traits. I believe that a lot of typism is not the user's fault. The test just describes people poorly, and people believe the test. Anybody who takes the MBTI completely seriously is bound to engage in typism.


The MBTI places things on opposite poles that aren't necessarily incompatible

1. If each letter of the MBTI contains subdimensions that are actually independent, then there would be no contradiction in a person being high in two opposite letters.

Example: A person high in both S and N might be good at both abstract thinking and letting go of their thoughts and immersing themselves in the here-and-now of the 5 senses.

2. Even if two personality elements are contradictory and conflicting, that still wouldn't necessarily stop a person from possessing both of them.

The MBTI reduces people to either/or. People are much more complex. A lot of what makes people interesting and unique is that they have internal contradictions. People can have multiple selves, and these do not necessarily have to be in harmony. A part of growth is working through these contradictions.

Ex: A strong I tries to be more social, succeeds, and then finds that these new qualities conflict with aspects of his former self.

*This also leads me to seriously question the utility of the MBTI as a tool for growth. The MBTI might stunt people's growth by convincing them that they're strictly one set of traits when they're actually more than that. People who are trying to find themselves might be especially prone to latching onto the first identity that's given to them that seems to make sense.


A person's MBTI score is ambiguous--primarily because there are subdimensions that the MBTI completely ignores.


The MBTI would give the same score to all of the following cases:

1. Answering "yes" to most N and S questions
2. Answering "no" to most N and S questions
3. Answering 1/2 "yes" and 1/2 "no" for N and S questions.
4. Answering in the middle for all N/S questions

*This last option actually isn't actually possible, even though it should be. The actual MBTI and most internet MBTI tests are forced-choice questionnaires. Which means that you can only say "yes" or "no". There isn't any "strongly agree", "strongly disagree", or "sometimes".

The Jungian personality theory actually predicts that while people have a basic personality type, they can increase or decrease in different dimensions--and these changes are relatively independent from one another. So, just because a person increases their Te doesn't mean they lose their Fi at the same time. It's more like you gain a new ability, and then you start applying it in situations where you might have used an older ability. You adapt yourself based on the situation.

The MBTI splits things into black or white and assumes that if you move toward one pole, you must be moving away from the other. The Jungian functions are different and make more sense. They allow a person to be high on both Te and Fi or low on both. It's a more expansive view of the self, and it's more congruent with the idea of a changing self.

This brings me to my next point.


MBTI test results are unstable.

This isn't a flaw of the MBTI in particular so much as of personality tests in general. This isn't to say that personality fluctuates in the same way as mood. But, people do change over time, and the way that they respond to personality tests is skewed by certain factors.

1. The social context/culture that a person is in

People establish their identities through social comparison. When deciding whether you are "neat", "friendly", "extroverted", etc. you're comparing yourself to the people around you. These words derive their meaning from contexts, and they don't mean anything outside of a particular social context. Whether you're typing yourself or somebody else is typing you, all types are expressed relative to a particular set of norms. Your personal identification as being this or that depends on what you're comparing yourself to.

Example: Assume two people behave similarly in terms of extroversion. The first person might type themselves as an I because they are around very extroverted people. The second person, however, might type themselves as an E.

This doesn't make the MBTI invalid, but it does mean that everybody has a different definition of what it means to be an INFP or an INTP. One's type might depend on the context of comparison. Depending on what a person is primed to, they'll answer the MBTI differently.

2. Recent life experiences

This is very similar, but it goes back to the same idea of context. If you recently went to a party and talked to a lot of people, you're more likely to type yourself as an E. If you haven't been to any parties lately and all of your friends are going to parties, you might type yourself as an I.

3. Situational traits

Identity is unstable, and the level of instability depends on the person. Some people are very set in their ways. Other people change depending on the situation. Other people behave consistently, but they're trying to change themselves. The MBTI doesn't really address any of this, except to suggest that people are basically the same across situations.

Jung's function theory provides a framework that can explain fluidity in a person's identity. It is very consistent with Jungian functions to say that people apply different parts of themselves depending on the situation. A person might be sociable/outspoken in one situation and reserved/anxious in another. But the MBTI, by its nature, boxes people in.

Marino suggests a way to transcend that boxiness, but this is definitely an unconventional interpretation of the MBTI. This is more akin to how Jungian functions would operate.

http://personalitycafe.com/myers-briggs-forum/5282-house-analogy-how-mbti-does-not-put-you-box.html


tl;dr
:laughing:
I've expressed many similar ideas in a thread I posted 6 hours before you posted this:
http://personalitycafe.com/cognitive-functions/36457-assessing-errors.html

I agree that there are inaccuracies, but are we just going to throw the system out or can it be reworked to provide better results?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,636 Posts
I also believe the MBTI is flawed. I agree with some of the things you say and disagree with other.

I have to remark that I think you're way off with this statement "Typism is a consequence of the conceptual confusion that is at the heart of the MBTI". Rather it's an effect of the human psyche.

The way I see it, typism(or racism) is more of an attempt to cope with the world. You have yourself (your mind, body and emotions) and you have the outside world (which is inherently dangerous), typism is a way to manage the outside world(one of many)- it keeps things that are "not you" out of your life. You reject parts of yourself and call it "not you".

It makes perfect sense, because when you say "I am not an E, I am an I(and with it rejects the loud parts of yourself that you associate with E)" you are suddenly part of a group and much safer. You've created a group.

But extraversion is still a part of you. Same with races, because there is no important difference between races- only what you exaggerate to feed the lie to be safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
good post! a worthy read. and i agree with most of your stated contradictions and issues with mbti. it's kind of a best fit system though. not perfect, but better than no system at all.

one thing you said - "The MBTI might stunt people's growth by convincing them that they're strictly one set of traits when they're actually more than that." this might be true. but if you're the sort of person that takes something at face value all the time, then your mbti type isn't your greatest hurdle. it would be my profound hope that people look at their mbti and attempt to rebel against it. for example - i know im an 'I' so I attempt to stretch myself socially, because i know it's my weakness. i guess i simply can't understand someone who looks at their letters and says, oh hell with it, i cant make friends im introverted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,544 Posts
I haven't read all of this post because I don't care enough, but you're not taking into consideration that the test is based on percentages and not on whether or not someone is strictly one thing or another.

Maybe it's just me, but I know that just because you score as a sensor, doesn't mean you're going to have all sensor traits and no intuitive traits. IT'S BASED ON PERCENTAGES.

This isn't a breakthrough. :/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,999 Posts
I don't think of MBTI theory as being synonymous with MBTI tests, for many of the reasons you posted. However, I am confused, because your post seems to be focused on MBTI tests, but your title implies that you are talking about the theory.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,047 Posts
I find it best to answer the questions with the creator of them in mind. I completely agree that the categorizing of types is seriously flawed and decidedly corporate in nature. The cognitive interpretations are much better, like extroverted thinking (Te) is thinking in an extroverted way, simple. I think these test are very useful in narrowing down your type however, but digging much deeper into cognitive process' is required either from relating to others or reading a certain types experiences.
 

·
Old Man
Joined
·
2,834 Posts
The theory at it's base (must have functions included), is pretty stable. MBTI gets ruined in how it is interpreted.

Most people stumble into MBTI through an associated test (helloquizzy, stumbleupon, socionics), while it sparks their interest; people only build on the descriptions they are given. The market is now flooded by people with a loose handle on the system, and people listen.

Typism stews in people as they "understand" more, because now they understand people. Rather than use it to aid communication, they use it let others know "there will be no middle ground here because you are XXXX". People exile themselves to type groups, "why do I need the other types, when I can just stay with my own". Cesspools, unhealthiness, and stereotypes form. N's are a small number of the population, an N who feels like an "oddball", "overly complicated", or outcast-ed will have a poor disposition to the norm, which are Sensors. People no longer matter, only how one processes information. MBTI is a starting point in understanding people around you, you should build on it; MBTI is not the end.

People become their type. The main flaw, is the flaw of human nature.

I enjoyed your post, hopefully it will steer some "misguided youths" to the actual theory.

Edit: People like simple theory, spoonfed type descriptions are where it usually stops. It's too much work to read.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
So most of your post said, "Tests are inaccurate." I concur.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
I think what you've posted has a lot of merit.

I come out as borderline on T/F and J/P normally when I take the test. When I was younger I used to come out as INTJ oddly enough. I wonder if a lot of that was more down to societal expectations of "maleness" in honesty. It was only when I started questioning the result I got that I even begun to gain any useful information from the whole MBTI system. In my case I could just as equally come out as 4 different types. I share bits and pieces from the J/P spectrum, and to a lesser degree the T/F spectrum. When it comes down to the functions aspects I think I can understand what you're saying entirely. Perhaps that's a sense you get when you feel like you're "sitting on the fence" so to speak, as that gives you more of a feeling that you might be more rounded in which functions you use, or at least as if you've developed more of them to a greater degree.

Ultimately the MBTI is a flawed, but still semi-decent, way of understanding both yourself and others. Believing everything that is written about your type blindly, without first questioning it and asking "is that me?" is not the way to go. In that way you can let it be extremely limiting to your personal growth.
 
  • Like
Reactions: fairytales

·
Registered
Joined
·
351 Posts
Hmm...I agree that tests shouldn't be the end-all, be-all. MBTI has helped me understand myself a little better though--I kept testing as INTJ but fortunately I was able to sit down and question it and realize that I was just answering the way I thought all my family members and teachers would want me to answer.

I think the basic concept in itself is valuable, no matter how flawed the specifics might be. It's lead me to stop and think more often and say, "Wait a minute. This person is not just like me. I need to see things from their point of view." But I definitely agree that taking "XXXX" as the complete word of God, especially when there's so much of a middle ground in all the traits, isn't the way to go at all.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top