Sunday, January 30, 2005

what the myers-briggs doesn't say about me

Prompted by Katy's post, I just took some version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for perhaps the dozenth time in my life. I came out as an INTJ. This puts me in the same box as Katy and Oblivio, which does give one reason to be suspicious of Oblivio's mention of research that INTJ's are the rarest of the 16 personality types, representing "less than 1% of the population."

Or, perhaps, bloggers are vastly disproportionately likely to be INTJs. It would make sense that bloggers have more similar personalities to one another than to the population at large, and, it might even make sense that bloggers are most likely to have the personality type which, according to Oblivio, is most associated with being an "asshole." (Proof positive of the latter proposition, maybe, would be if we got Drek--a blogger who regularly expresses great pride in his asshole-hood--to take the test and see if he comes out as an INTJ.)

In any case, I don't really think that my Myers-Briggs type really provides a very good picture of me. Usually, when people say this, they mean that they don't buy the idea that you can say much about people's personality by arraying them on a very small number of personality dimensions. Not me, I think there's ample evidence that a whole lot of personality can be captured via a relatively small number of dimensions.

Nonetheless, there are two problems with the Myers-Briggs representation of me. First, saying that I'm an "INTJ" is misleading because, as it turns out, I'm really barely both a T (a Thinker vs. a Feeler) and a J (a Judger vs. a Perceiver). I come out almost smack in the middle on both these dimensions, and it's only by virtue of the equivalent of tie-breaker questions that I end up getting classified as a TJ. For that matter, I also do not come out as a particularly strong I (Introvert vs. Extravert)--I've come out an E other times when I've taken the MBTI--but I am plainly an N (a iNtuiter vs. a Senser).

Second, and this is more important, the Myers Briggs is one dimension short of being state-of-the-art for measuring personality. Much of serious personality psychology nowadays is quite enamored of the "Five-Factor Theory" of personality. Research has shown that the four Myers Briggs dimensions reasonably neatly onto four of the Big Five dimensions, as follows:
MBTI E/I --> Big Five Extraversion
MBTI N/S --> Big Five Openness
MBTI T/F --> Big Five Agreeableness
MBTI J/P --> Big Five Conscientiousness
So, what's the Big Five personality dimension not covered by the Myers-Briggs? Neuroticism. Knowing somebody's score on the other four dimensions basically provides no way of predicting whether they are going to score high or low on a Neuroticism scale. And I have a more extreme score--extremely high, as if you couldn't tell--on the Neuroticism scale than on any of the four other dimensions. And thus, somebody who thought they were scientifically compatible with me because I'm an INTJ would have no idea what a neurotic quagmire they were getting themselves into.

12 comments:

Brayden said...

I'm your second confirmation of the blogger-asshole hypothesis. It appears that I am an INTJ too. I purposely tried to take the quiz as quickly as I could so that I wouldn't think about any of the questions too much and bias my answers by what I thought the outcome should be. Drek is _definitely_ an INTJ.

dorotha said...

did you take the quiz that katy linked? i just did. it seems pretty stupid. i did not come up as an asshole, which we all know is wrong. i don't know, the questions were difficult to answer and i don't feel that well this morning, but how am i an ESTP? i mean, the only thing in the description that seemed right was that i am manipulative. my star sign rings truer, and we all know that's crap.

Anonymous said...

I dunno - I would think rather than being overrepresented in bloggerdom, that type would be overrepresented in academia.

But what do I know, I'm apparently an 'extroverted intuitive thinking perceiving'' type. Which I guess makes me an intellectual dilletante with no patience for details. Guess I'll go write a manifesto or something.

-brady

Anonymous said...

Its funny that they say that INTJs make up less than 1% of the population, because I just took it and came up as an INFP, which, according to the Kinsey description also represents 1% of the general population. So I guess that the other 14 types make up the remaining 98+%. Anyone know what the most common types are?

Anonymous said...

"And thus, somebody who thought they were scientifically compatible with me because I'm an INTJ would have no idea what a neurotic quagmire they were getting themselves into."

From what little I've read, you may want to think again before underestimating an INFJ. Way to keep 'em guessing, Jeremy.

- an older friend

Anonymous said...

The Lonely Donut Man doth fade'th away
'twas but a sabbatical brought me here to play
with quirky verse no opinions did I sway
could it be but any other way
with naught but greasy donuts on a tray
hoping for a glimpse of Love's shining ray?
'twas lonliness I only found each day
return'eth again? oh, perhaps I may
for Nina's affections still I pray
proffering glazed ne'er shall I dismay-
LDM

jeremy said...

What, are you leaving us, Lonely Donut Man? But you were the only reason anybody reads my blog! At least tell us your Myers-Briggs type before you go.

Anonymous said...

Verily it say'eth I am fat and a slouch
with a propensity to be grouch
yet shy like a Joey in a pouch
'tis the question thou did'st ask
take'th me not to task
in the limelight I sought not to bask
my strange verse flow'eth with ease
lonely hearts I seek'eth to appease
yet ladies avoid'eth me like one with fleas
Woe! verily I must soon depart
gone and forgotten like a stale fart
after all, this really isn't art - LDM

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, with the departure of the infamous Doughnut Man, Jeremy will be hard pressed to retain his audience. I for one would like to hear some of his commentary on " meta-Analysis" - and I would refer him to the MSN Health & Fitness section of today, and a study of ill geezers who were taking vitamin E. "Doctors debate value of vitamin E" the article proclaims, then goes on with some doctors lambasting this statistical engine. I realize it's been probably 30 years since I took some Stat classes, but isn't 'meta-analysis' just another word for factor analysis? If the Maestro would expound a bit, some readers would appreciate it and hopefully not mourn the loss of the Doughnut Man for too long.

jeremy said...

Meta-analysis has nothing to do with factor analysis; their main similarity may be that quantitative sociologists typically know little about either. "Factor analysis" encompasses a set of techniques for reducing some large number of measures to a smaller number of factors that account for the shared variance among the measures. "Meta-analysis" encompasses a set of techniques for systematically combining the results from multiple studies that ask (directly or incidentally) the same question.

jeremy said...

Sorry my last comment had a pissy edge to it. I'm still getting over the prospective loss of Lonely Doughnut Man.

jeremy said...

Sorry my last comment had a pissy edge to it. I'm still getting over the prospective loss of Lonely Doughnut Man.