Group Hug: The Myers-Briggs Test

The Myers-Briggs test seems to be the Trust Fall of this decade’s MBA program. I learned my type during a mini-MBA training program at JP Morgan six years ago. That seminar is the only one I remember clearly. It made a great deal more sense than the Black-Scholes pricing equation, and I liked it all the better for the sneering it earned from the thrusting Wall Streeters who sat next to me.

I liked Adam’s recent entry on MBTI(Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) testing.

For those who aren’t familiar, the Myers-Briggs type indicator is a scale used to slot people into one of sixteen basic personality types. It is the kind of test that I would hold in the same general regard that I have for astrology, except that it tends to produce uncannily accurate results.

My sister has just started an MBA program, like Adam, and she and I had spent the previous evening on IM(instant messenger) babbling about the results of her class’s Myers-Briggs seminar. It turns out she’s the same type as me–INFP(Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving type)–and we love this stuff. We are the people who crowd the seminar speakers at the end of the session asking how we can get their job. We are amateur sleuths forever guessing new friends’ types. And we tend to annoy more sceptical people by repeating over and over “Well, of course you think it’s all bollocks. That’s _characteristic_ of The Scientist/INTJ(Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging) personality.”
(But no, I don’t have loyalty points from the Psychic Hotline.)

The Myers-Briggs test seems to be the Trust Fall of this decade’s MBA program. I learned my type during a mini-MBA training program at JP Morgan six years ago. That seminar is the only one I remember clearly. It made a great deal more sense than the Black-Scholes pricing equation, and I liked it all the better for the sneering it earned from the thrusting Wall Streeters who sat next to me. But the results revealed the horror of being a lone Feeling, Perceiving type exiled in a wasteland of investment banking ENTJ(Extroverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging types)s and ESTJ(Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judging)s. We’d all be living in caves if it weren’t for the extroverted Thinking and Judging types. I’d hire them without reservation. But they’re great big Bossy Boots, and besides, camping in caves is fun.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to a free online Myers-Briggs test. The Typelogic site analyzes the results fairly well. The Personality Page is slightly more cartoonish in its descriptions (and more entertaining).

7 thoughts on “Group Hug: The Myers-Briggs Test”

  1. Hey Dervala,

    I share your love for personality theory. I first ran into the concept with the four greek temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic and Melancholy. Since then I’ve encountered variation after variation (my animal is the Otter!) and understood that upon the complex idea of ‘types’ people have built various abstractions.
    Even the MBTI “types” are an abstraction of the idea that there are various “functions” that we all possess and develop as we grow. There is physical evidence to support this: the networks of neurons in the brain are more well developed in the pieces associated with type functions that are more dominant in an individual.
    The book I first read covering MBTI and introducing the notion of temperament was David Kiersey’s embarrasingly titled “Please Understand Me” [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0960695400/qid=1062097408/sr=2-3/ref=sr_2_3/103-9203788-0288641]. He essentially groups MBTI results into temperaments: SJ (Guardian), SP (Artisan), NT (Rational) and NF (Dervala, the Idealist). If you want exposure to the idea of “functions” and a more detailed account of this theory look no farther than Lenore Thomson’s Personality Types[http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0877739870/qid=1062097753/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/103-9203788-0288641?v=glance&s=books&n=507846]. It is dense at some points but well worth the reading.
    My type is INTP. To give you a clear idea of how this can be read in blunt generalizations look here: http://www.personalitypage.com/INTP.html. If you want to see a more cogent approach, however, look here: http://www.intp.org/intprofile.html. It serves the point that too much abstraction can lead to theories like this being read like astrology.
    I think what I liked most about delving into the idea of types is that I began to understand not only myself but the people around me much better. I understood my conflicts with more clarity. There is nothing like knowing exactly where the itch is when you want to scratch.

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  2. I’m very fond of the INTPs, with their mad-professorish absorption in the word of ideas (I went so far as to marry one). The second site link is a great description. Thanks for the book links. On the JP Morgan course they gave us the first one (Please Understand Me), which I devoured but didn’t put on the bookshelf due to the cheesy title. I’ll look into the second one.

    Agree completely on understanding conflicts, and I think the business courses are clear on this–they use it to help you figure out what approach to take with different people. Of course, we ENFPs abuse it to dissect and make fun of other types.

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  3. I remember when I took the Myers-Briggs during my MBA program. I forget what my final typing was, but I do remember that we were all asked to stand up and make groups according to type. Out of the 70-odd people in the room, about half of them fell into the “business school” types (aggressive, analytical, etc.) I, with my music background and “poet” mentality, fell into a group all to myself. The only one-person group in the class. I can still see my team members faces — “What have we been stuck with?” Needless to say, I was always the last person to see our deliverables before they went in (spell/grammar/structure check), and I was the one who though of the cool logo for our “company” in case competition. I think we did OK.

    Meyers-Briggs is a great party game, and even though there are types that are more suited to the MBA lifestyle, it’s really your skill set and your willingness to learn that is the basis for success or failure. IMHO.

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  4. Oy… these things bug the bejeezus out of me. Always seems to me that the test results are basically just paraphrasing the answers you gave to the questions. But I was probably subjected to too many dumbed-down versions of this kind of thing in high school to be able to judge it fairly. This is not a joke: once, for unknown reasons, we all had to do a “left-brain vs. right-brain” profile in which one of the questions was “Which do you like better, dogs or cats?”.

    Still it’s always great fun to parody:
    http://www.graphesthesia.com/eb/prose/grim.html

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  5. Eli,your test is fab! I love it. You’re such an INTJ, dude, etc.

    I am completely irritating about these tests in real life. People glaze over instantly. I diagnose their tendency to glaze over. Luckily, I’m soon onto a new fad, so they keep me around.

    I’m only truly interested in the MBTI, though, mainly because it’s the only one that seems to acknowledge sliding scales of tendencies rather than presenting a firm “diagnosis”. The all-singing big-bucks MBA version is more like 130 questions, which you don’t get online. And we had full training in the extensive disclaimers at JP Morgan’s expense, which is something that the freebie tests unaccountably leave out.

    That said, after I posted this, Wendy sent me a link to a “What Country Are You?” test. I’m incapable of not filling these things out, even when I scoff and especially when I’m busy. So, first go, out of 70 possibilities: Ireland. That can’t be right, I thought, and did it again. The UN: “You’re at home everywhere but your heart is in New York…” Ooh, spooky.

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  6. dervala, i really like your blog and first came across it when i saw the spelling of your name…i have a very good friend named dervilla, we call her derv for short, does anyone call you that? i think yours is a beautiful name…

    anyway, i did my MB a few months back, i wrote about it on my blog just yesterday and right now i re-took the quick jungian one you have a link to and STILL i am an ISJF…i really dislike the terms they label us ISFJs: Protector, Nurturer, Guardian…some of the characteristics suit me well and describe me okay, but others are quite a bit off…interesting all the same…

    i look forward to reading more…

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  7. My Irish and English friends (and family) mostly call me Derv, my North American friends not so much, for some reason. I never mind either way. There are tons of ways to spell it (Dervla, Dervilla, Dervala, Dearbhla, Derbhle, Dearbhaile etc.) but they’re all pronounced pretty much the same.

    I don’t think I’ve met any ISFJs, that I’m aware of anyway, but Protector/Nurturer sounds pretty good to me. Better than Drill-Sergeant Martinet, right?

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